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Output Group 2

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2.1 : Policy Advice and Legislation, Ministerial Services

Output
Performance indicators

2.1 Policy Advice and Legislation,
Ministerial Services

Quality: Ministers and Ministers'; Offices satisfied with the quality of policy advice and legislation development, and Department meets standards for policy advice, legislation and Ministerial services.

Target: 95 per cent level of satisfaction.

Improvement in cooperative work and
action across agencies.

Results based on performance indicators

Achieved

In 2001-02 the Ministerial Offices recorded a 98.9 per cent level of satisfaction with the various types of advice sent to them. This represents an improvement over the previous year';s level of 96.7 per cent satisfaction. Because responses are recorded against Divisions it is not possible to provide specific data on a Key Result. A breakdown of these figures can be found in Part 5-Management and Accountability.

The Department provides a range of policy advice to our portfolio Ministers and their Offices to support their interest in a wide variety of regional issues.

One of the major policy outputs for the Department in 2001-02 was support in the preparation of the Government';s Regional Policy Statement, Stronger Regions, A Stronger Australia, which was completed in August 2001. The statement articulated the Government';s vision for a strong, positive and self-reliant regional Australia where communities have the power to lead their own future. The statement announced a partnership approach that fosters the development of self-reliant regional communities.

In July 2001, COAG agreed to establish the Regional Development Council (RDC). This new Ministerial Council comprises Ministers for regional development from all States and Territories, and the Australian Local Government Association, and is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon John Anderson MP.

The aim of the RDC is to facilitate more effective cooperation across all spheres of government in order to achieve sustainable economic, social and environmental outcomes for regional Australia.

The Department provides secretariat support and policy advice to the RDC and to its supporting body of senior officials, the Standing Committee on Regional Development (SCORD), which met for the first time in May 2002.

The Department has also provided secretariat services to the COAG Review of Natural Disaster Relief and Mitigation Arrangements involving the three levels of government and other key stakeholders. The Department';s Secretary chaired a high-level group of senior officials undertaking the review. A report containing recommendations from this group is due to be completed in 2002.

It is expected that the review will lead to regional communities being better able to access opportunities to protect themselves from the effects of natural disasters.

Other examples of enhanced cooperative work across agencies are identified in the key strategies for Key Result 2.

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2.2 : Services to Communities

Output
Performance indicators

2.2 Services to Communities

Quality: Department ensures that funding recipients meet terms and conditions of funding.

Where appropriate, stakeholder satisfaction with the programme.

Administration of programmes in accordance with legislation, Government policy, and Departmental standards.

Improved crossportfolio and jurisdictional cooperation.

Results based on performance indicators

Substantially achieved

All recipients of funding of services to communities are required to enter into funding agreements with the Department. These funding agreements bind recipients to the terms and conditions of their funding. Ongoing monitoring of these agreements and their reporting requirements help the Department ensure that funding recipients meet the terms and conditions of their funding.

The Department undertook a market research survey as part of the Regional Programmes Review. This survey showed general satisfaction with programmes that were part of the review. In addition, individual programmes have mechanisms to gauge stakeholder satisfaction. The feedback gathered through these mechanisms is used to continually improve the Department's service to communities through administered programmes.

Where relevant, programmes are administered in accordance with relevant legislation. Grant programmes are administered in accordance with the requirements of the Australian National Audit Office's Best Practice Guide on Administration of Grants.

The Department works with a range of Commonwealth agencies to facilitate effective whole of government outcomes for regional communities. This role includes coordinating, influencing and implementing regional policies, programmes and issues. It also includes participating in a number of key cross-portfolio working groups through the More Accessible Government initiative and trialing a range of bilateral working groups with the Department of Family and Community Services.

More Accessible Government aims to improve access to grant programmes and streamline grant administration, with a particular focus on regional, rural and remote communities. The process involves further development of collaborative work by Federal Government Departments to achieve these outcomes.

Furthermore, the Department is working closely with the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DOCITA) in striving for improved telecommunications services to regional, rural and remote Australia. The Department has worked with DOCITA in developing the Government's $163 million response to the Telecommunications Services Inquiry and in monitoring its implementation. In addition, the Department has monitored, and provided feedback to DOCITA on, the roll out of the $150 million untimed local calls and Internet access initiative in the extended zones of Australia.

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2.3 : Research and Data

Output
Performance indicators

2.3 Research and Data

Quality: Research and analysis activities contribute to policy development and programme delivery.

Research and analysis activities in accordance with Departmental and appropriate peer and academic research standards.

Research and analysis outputs increase and improve stakeholder knowledge.

Results based on performance indicators

Achieved

The Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics, within the Department, produced two research publications during 2001-02 examining ways regional communities could take the lead in their own planning and development:

  • Flood Damage in Tamworth' (Working Paper 48) provides estimates of the economic cost of the November 2000 floods in the Taminda industrial area. The research will enable Governments to plan more effective responses to future floods in the Tamworth area and similar regional areas.
  • Benefits of Flood Mitigation in Australia (Report 106) examines the substantial economic benefits of implementing flood mitigation measures, such as land use planning, building controls, voluntary purchase of flood-prone properties, levees and road sealing. The research is a major input into the review of natural disaster and relief arrangements being undertaken by COAG.
  • 'Atherton Tablelands Regional Analysis' (Working Paper 43) examines socio-economic conditions in this region.

The Department renamed the Bureau of Transport Economics as the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics to establish a dedicated regional research capability. In 2002-03, this capability will be fulfilled and a research programme implemented that concentrates on research that improves the Government's understanding of economic and social factors affecting regional Australia.

For details of the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics research programme and publications, visit http://www.bitre.gov.au/, or contact (02) 6274 7210.

The Department is also responsible for the administration of programmes that include research and analysis activities. Information on the results of these administered programmes within Output 2.3-the Understanding Rural Australia Programme, the Regional and Rural Development Grant, and the Regional and Rural Research Information and Data Programme-is set out in the report on administered programmes.

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2.4 : Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements

Output
Performance indicators

2.4 Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements

Quality: Administration of programmes in accordance with the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements Determination and associated
programme guidelines.

Department ensures that funding recipients meet terms and conditions of funding.

Where appropriate, stakeholder satisfaction with programmes.

Improved crossportfolio and jurisdictional cooperation.

Price: $0.6 million

Results based on performance indicators

Achieved

Portfolio responsibility for the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements (NDRA) was transferred from the Department of Finance and Administration to the Department under the machinery of government changes in December 2001. Standard Commonwealth terms and conditions apply in respect of the funding arrangements, and all terms and conditions have been satisfied. Consequently, all NDRA claims for reimbursement have been paid.

The Natural Disaster Risk Management Studies Programme funding round has been finalised, with 167 projects funded. Audited Financial Statements from the States and Territories are current, and the 2000-01 financial year has been reconciled. Satisfaction with the programmes has been shown by the continued heavy demand for funding.

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