Organisational Governance

The Organisational Governance Structures of the Department
Department-wide Management Committees
Corporate and Operational Planning
Internal Audit, Risk Management and Ethics

The Organisational Governance Structures of the Department

The Departments structures and processes are designed to ensure it delivers its stated outcomes and outputs in an accountable, ethical and timely fashion. Organisational governance information is disseminated to staff via the Intranet site and issues of note are also featured in the weekly staff newsletter.

DOTARS commenced an external review of its corporate governance arrangements this year to ensure that they are keeping pace with developments in management practices and conventions in the modern public service. This review focused on identifying and providing advice on the implementation of improvements required to achieve better practice. The initial findings of the review indicate that DOTARS has a sound base with all of the major building blocks of good organisational governance in place, but also identify some areas that need attention. The final component of the analysis, which is yet to be delivered, will provide DOTARS with guidance on addressing those issues and will be detailed in next years annual report.

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Department-wide Management Committees

Portfolio Business Meeting

The weekly Portfolio Business Meeting with the Ministers and their senior advisers, reinforces the link between the Ministers and the Department. These meetings address both administrative and policy issues facing the portfolio.

Portfolio Chief Executives Forum

The weekly Portfolio Chief Executives Forum was established in July 2000 to provide an opportunity for high-level interaction across the transport and regional services portfolio on matters of common interest. It comprises the Secretary of DOTARS and the Chief Executives of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia, Australian Maritime Safety Authority and National Capital Authority. Meetings are generally held quarterly.

Executive Board

The Executive Board supports the Secretary in discharging his statutory responsibility of promoting the efficient and ethical use of departmental resources. Members of the Executive Board are responsible for advising the Secretary on matters of corporate governance, direction, priorities and policy.

Departmental Executive Meeting

Weekly departmental executive meetings focus on the upcoming week, with members reporting on issues facing the Divisions and Ministers. The meetings provide an opportunity for senior staff to exchange views on issues, alert the executive to upcoming events and foster a collegiate and cross-divisional ethos.

Table 2—Department-wide Management Committees

Membership as at 30 June 2001 Responsibility Meetings
Portfolio Business Meeting Ministers, Senior Advisers, Secretary, Deputy Secretaries Address both administrative and policy issues facing the portfolio Weekly
Portfolio Chief Executives Forum Secretary and Chief Executives of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Airservices Australia, Australian Maritime Safety Authority and National Capital Authority Discuss issues of common interest across the portfolio Quarterly
Executive Board Secretary, Deputy Secretaries, Division and Bureau Heads and CFO Advise the Secretary on matters of corporate governance, direction, priorities and policy Fortnightly
Departmental Executive Meeting Secretary, Deputy Secretaries, all FAS, AS Executive Services Group, CFO, General Counsel and Director Legal Services Discuss issues currently facing Divisions and Ministers Weekly
Departmental Audit Committee Deputy Secretary, FAS Economic Research & Environment, FAS Regional Services, Development & Local Government, GM Information Services Group, AS High-Speed Train Branch, Mr Paul McGrath AM as an independent member Provide advice to the Secretary on the governance of DOTARS Six times per year
People Management Committee Deputy Secretary, GM Business Group, FAS Economic Research & Environment, AS People & Strategy, AS Cross-Modal Maritime, AS Territories and Regional Support, AS Environment, Director Land Transport, Director Regional Services, Development & Local Government, Co-Chairs RtP Taskforce, Director HR Programs Align people management activities and departmental business objectives, including future business needs; provide executive support and guidance to RtP Taskforce Every six to eight weeks
Results Through People Taskforce Divisional representatives Formulate and promote RtP initiatives in DOTARS As required (approximately every month)
Health and Safety Committee GM Business Group, Manager People and Strategy, Director Employee Services, one divisional FAS, union representatives and departmental health and safety representatives Consider the Departments OH&S strategy and policy and performance issues; improve the Departments health and safety environment Quarterly
Departmental Consultative Committee Elected representatives from each Division, regional office and union that is party to the CA, as well as a management representative nominated by the Secretary Make recommendations and oversee the implementation of the Certified Agreement Every six to eight weeks

Departmental Audit Committee

The Audit Committee is a high-level panel that provides advice to the Secretary on the governance of DOTARS. It is accountable to the Secretary and operates under a charter prepared in line with the Australian National Audit Offices Better Practice Guide. The Audit Committee focused on:

  • fostering growth of the trust-based system throughout DOTARS;
  • finalisation of the Departmental Fraud Risk Assessment and Fraud Plan (consistent with the Fraud Control Policy of the Commonwealth);
  • finalisation of the Departmental Risk Management Policies and Procedures and Risk Register; and
  • department-wide training in risk management and incorporation of risk management into the annual business planning process.

People Management Committee

The People Management Committee works as a committee of the Executive Board to advance key people-related activities and programs, to provide an advisory role to the People and Strategy Branch and to enhance the design of human resource projects. Committee members work within their respective branches to design specific projects based on the Departments human resource framework, to act as an executive committee for the results through people (RtP) taskforce and to provide strategic advice to the Executive Board on people management issues.

Results through People Taskforce

The main function of the RtP taskforce is to act as a bottom-up feedback mechanism on corporate initiatives and business performance for the executive group. The mechanism for providing this feedback is a report delivered to the Secretary and the Executive Board specifying staff perceptions of performance against key result areas, including examples of best practice observed within and external to DOTARS.

The People Management Committee has replaced the RtP Steering Committee as the executive reference group for the taskforce.

Health and Safety Committee

The Health and Safety Committee meets regularly to consider the Departments occupational health and safety strategy and policy and performance issues, with the aim of improving the Departments health and safety environment.

Departmental Consultative Committee

The Departmental Consultative Committee is a body established by the Certified Agreement (CA) to make recommendations and oversee the implementation of the CA. It functions to establish workplace relations that value communication, consultation, cooperation and input from employees on matters that affect their workplace.

The committee is comprised of elected representatives from each Division, a representative of regional offices, a representative of each union party to the CA and senior executive representatives nominated by the Secretary. It meets every six to eight weeks and is chaired by the Secretary.

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Corporate and Operational Planning

The Departments planning procedures, illustrated below, indicate the connection between the different levels of planning within the organisation. The key planning document, the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), sets out the Governments intentions in relation to the portfolio and the allocation of resources to DOTARS. The PBS underlies the development of internal planning documents, such as the divisional plans, which in turn guide the development of lower-level work plans.

In aligning the Departments operational planning documents the organisation has instituted a line of sight approach between the individual staff members planning process (the plan on a page) and the Departments formal planning document, the PBS. This line of sight approach involves maintaining the connection from the PBS through the corporate plan and the divisional plans to the development of the individuals plan on a page. In this way, all members of the organisation should be able to determine where their work sits in relation to the delivery of the Departments outcomes and the Governments objectives.

A further key planning document is the Secretarys Statement of Future Skills Requirements, which is available to staff through the Intranet. In this document the Secretary identifies the Departments ongoing skill requirements to assist management and staff in planning and undertaking training and development. This key planning document feeds into the individual plans on a page.

Figure 6—Relationship between the Departments planning and reporting

Figure 6—Relationship between the Department's planning and reporting

Departmental Corporate Plan

A new departmental corporate plan for the period 2000–01 to 2002–03 commenced on 1 July 2000. As the highest-level document in the Departments planning hierarchy, the new corporate plan guides the Departments operations and describes its purpose, role and values. It also considers changes that may affect work over the period and identifies what we will do differently.

The plan is reviewed each year and revised so that it continues to look three years ahead. The current plan is available on the Departments website.

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Internal Audit, Risk Management and Ethics

Internal Audit

From May 2000 internal audit services have been provided by one consultant rather than by a panel, as had been the case for several years. This arrangement is providing more consistent audit quality. Matters selected for internal audit are based on risk analysis, which includes the size and nature of the functional area, the inherent risk in the operations, the period since the last audit, and the results of prior reviews.

Risk Management

To manage risk, DOTARS has established an overarching risk-management plan and promoted a risk management culture. The procedures outlined in the risk-management plan deal with all areas of risk management, including fraud risk and continuity planning. This plan will be updated annually as part of the business planning process. In addition, a series of risk management workshops and seminars have been run for staff on appropriate risk management practices.

The fraud risk assessment and control plans were updated and have been approved by the Commonwealth Fraud Control Evaluation Committee, which consists of representatives of the Attorney-Generals Department and the Australian Federal Police. The fraud risk plan is available to staff via the Departments Intranet.

Ethics, Values and Code of Conduct

As part of the Introduction Program (outlined in Human Resource Management), new staff members are given a copy of the Australian Public Service (APS) values and code of conduct, the DOTARS Service Charter and workplace diversity information. The Secretary also addresses new staff on the Departments culture and corporate values. All people management initiatives are designed to promote ethical codes of conduct consistent with APS values.


In line with Public Service Regulation 10, DOTARS provides a comprehensive policy allowing employees to present evidence of fraud, waste or misconduct within the Department without harassment. There have been no cases to date.

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