Management and Accountability

Corporate Governance

Governance framework

The Department's governance framework is designed to ensure that the principles of good governance are applied in all aspects of its work, and high standards of performance, conformance and accountability are maintained. The governance framework promotes ethics, integrity, transparency and accountability to maintain high standards of governance and instil confidence in all those who deal with the Department.

In 2010–11, the Secretary initiated a program to raise the profile of evaluation across the Department and to ensure a systematic and strategic approach to the evaluation of its program, policy and regulatory functions through the development of an agency-wide Evaluation Plan.

The Department has committed to ensuring continual improvement in the performance of its regulatory functions from best practice in the design of regulation to best practice in administration and enforcement.

A number of regulatory governance activities have been implemented to support the Department to continually improve its regulatory performance. These include enhancing existing generic training, and development of specific regulatory training; increasing and enhancing stakeholder relationships; giving staff more opportunity through forums to exchange views on issues of common relevance; and enhancing systems and procedures.

High-level groups

Three high-level departmental groups meet regularly and assist the Secretary and senior management in the Department's decision-making process. They are the:

  • Secretary's Business Meeting (SBM)
  • Executive Management Team (EMT), and
  • Senior Executive Service Management Team (SESMT).

The most senior of the Department's committees is the SBM, comprising the Secretary, the Deputy Secretaries and the Chief Operating Officer. The meeting is held weekly to formally consider ministerial support, corporate policy, high-level policy, departmental resourcing and operational matters.

The EMT, which also meets weekly, is the main executive communication and coordination forum. The team consists of the Secretary, the Deputy Secretaries, the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Directors (heads of the Department's business divisions). Other employees, including the Chief Financial Officer, General Counsel, Chief Information Officer, General Manager People and Performance, General Manager Community Engagement, and General Manager Governance and Reporting, attend meetings in an advisory capacity.

The EMT meets to:

  • receive briefings from executive directors on key issues for each business division
  • consider strategic policy proposals and receive updates on issues such as financial and human resource management
  • receive advice from the SBM, and
  • provide the Secretary with an opportunity to communicate key messages about the performance of the Department, areas for improvement and coming priorities.

The SESMT meetings provide an opportunity to:

  • promote closer links and engagement as a Senior Executive Service (SES) group
  • encourage participation by SES employees in organisational management discussions
  • provide feedback from SES employees to the Executive on key management issues, and
  • update the SES group on important government, Australian Public Service and departmental policy and operational matters.

During 2010–11, these meetings changed from monthly two-hour meetings to quarterly half-day meetings. This allows for a closer alignment with the business planning process. Each quarter a small group of SES employees are selected by the Executive to form an organising committee to make arrangements for, and facilitate each meeting. Departmental staff and external speakers may be invited to provide presentations on key departmental and broader government issues.

Apart from the quarterly meetings, the SESMT may be called together from time to time to discuss special topics and events.

Specific Organisational Management Committees

Four committees focus on specific areas of organisational management and decision-making.

The Audit Committee provides assurance and assistance to the Secretary on the Department's risk, control and compliance frameworks and external accountability responsibilities. The Audit Committee has a sub-committee whose primary role is to oversee financial statements reporting and processes on behalf of the Audit Committee.

In accordance with its charter, the Audit Committee:

  • monitors the Department's risk-management framework
  • endorses the internal audit work program and monitors its implementation
  • provides a forum for the Department and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to exchange views on external audit findings and associated recommendations, and
  • oversees the preparation of the Department's financial statements, in conjunction with the Financial Statements Sub-Committee.

In 2010–11, the Audit Committee met five times. Following the machinery-of-government changes, the committee membership reduced from nine members to six comprising two independent members and four departmental representatives. The Chair of the Audit Committee from 14 September was Deputy Secretary Andrew Wilson. Meetings were also attended by observers, including representatives from other areas of the Department and from the ANAO, as required.

The Strategic Information Technology and Security Committee:

  • develops a common vision for the Department's information technology requirements
  • oversees the Department's data requirements and determines data-collection priorities
  • recommends IT and security funding priorities
  • recommends information and protective security policies, and
  • provides a forum for IT and security issues to be raised and discussed.

This committee meets quarterly, is chaired by Deputy Secretary Lyn O'Connell, and is accountable to the Secretary.

The Finance, Reporting and Program Committee:

  • oversees the Department's Budget process
  • considers monthly financial reports
  • recommends Budget priorities
  • oversees the development of the Department's Annual Report
  • oversees the strategic management and delivery of administered programs
  • considers and recommends non-IT capital investment proposals, and
  • provides a forum for finance, reporting and program management issues to be raised and discussed.

This committee meets monthly and consists of the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

The People and Capability Committee:

  • considers strategic capability-building issues and directions for the Department
  • recommends capability-building priorities
  • fosters relationships between divisions to achieve a cohesive, shared approach to enhancing people management, and
  • provides a forum for people-management issues to be raised and discussed.

This committee meets monthly in conjunction with the Finance, Reporting and Program Committee and consists of the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager, People and Performance.

Employee Forum Committees

The Department also has two committees to provide the main forum for ensuring the views of employees are taken into account in the operation and implementation of the Department's Enterprise Agreement and the continuous improvement of the Department's health and safety environment.

The Departmental Consultative Committee:

  • makes recommendations on workplace issues relating to the implementation of the Enterprise Agreement
  • considers proposals from employees for improving the workplace
  • considers new and existing guidelines for implementing the Enterprise Agreement
  • considers the impact of any legislative change affecting employment conditions
  • monitors and makes recommendations on matters relating to accommodation under the Enterprise Agreement, and
  • ensures the Department meets its obligations under the Public Service Act 1999.

This committee meets quarterly and consists of Deputy Secretary Andrew Wilson (Chair), elected employee representatives, union representatives, and management representatives.

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee considers strategy, policy and performance matters to continually improve the Department's health and safety environment. The Committee is advisory in nature, making recommendations on draft policies and programs to the Secretary.

Planning and reporting framework

The Department published detailed plans in May as part of the Budget papers. The Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS):

  • describe the departmental outcomes, programs and administered items for which the Department will receive funding in the coming Budget year
  • detail the objectives and components of each program, and the goods and services that the program will deliver during the year
  • set the financial and other performance targets that will apply to each program, and
  • present the Department's budgeted financial statements for the Budget year and three out-years.

These plans are updated, if required, in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements (PAES) and Portfolio Supplementary Additional Estimates Statements (PSAES). For 2010–11, PAES were published in February 2011, but no PSAES were published.

The PBS are used to inform the development of strategic business plans for each division. These business plans, within the operating context for the year ahead, present an environmental scan, divisional positioning to respond to its environment, key deliverables and functional activities, significant risks and available resources.

Each quarter, the Executive of the Department asks divisions to review progress against business plans. This review process informs the Executive of achievements and any emerging areas of concern in relation to the continued delivery of agreed outcomes. The quarterly reviews also allow for an exchange between the Executive and divisions to ensure that the Department is well placed to address planned and unplanned priorities.

Enterprise-wide risk management

In 2010–11, the Department maintained an overarching risk-management policy which provided a formal framework for managing and monitoring identified risks.

This involved:

  • presenting the Department's risks to the EMT for discussion and confirmation that they are updated in line with changing functions and directions
  • conducting risk-assessment workshops with all business divisions in the Department, to ensure that divisional risks are identified and mitigated, and
  • updating the departmental risk profile which formed the basis of the Department's 2010–11 internal audit work plan.

The Department revised and updated the Enterprise Risk Framework, including the Risk Management Policy, in late 2010–11. The revised framework and policy places greater emphasis on accountability and consistency and is the foundation for broader changes to further improve the Department's management of risk.

Disclosure of major risks

As required, the Department continued to disclose fiscal risks and contingent liabilities, with a large potential impact, in the Budget papers. The enterprise-wide fiscal risks and contingent liabilities disclosed for 2010–11 were managed without significant impacts.

They related to:

  • Airservices Australia: Compensation for Airservices Australia in the event it experiences any financial detriment as a result of complying with government directions about airspace control services
  • Australian Maritime Safety Authority incident costs: Clean-up costs, arising from ship-sourced marine pollution incidents that cannot be recovered
  • Maritime Industry Finance Company Limited—board members' indemnities: Indemnities for Maritime Industry Finance Company Limited board members, and
  • Tripartite deeds relating to the sale of federal leased airports: Tripartite deeds applying to 12 leased federal airports-these provide financiers with limited step-in rights when an airport lease is terminated, to enable them to correct the circumstances that triggered termination of the lease.

Protective security and fraud control

  • The Department continued to monitor contemporary risk factors during 2010–11, to maintain an appropriate level of assurance for the Executive and to meet the Australian Government's protective security expectations. This process will continue in 2011–12 to ensure compliance and alignment with the Australian Government's Protective Security Policy Framework and Information Security Manual. The Department's risk profile remains at a ‘low’ status.
  • The Department's Fraud Control Plan and processes for controlling, investigating and reporting on fraud all comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines, as certified by the Secretary in the letter of transmittal of this annual report.

Internal audit

In 2010–11, approximately 80 per cent of internal audit activity was allocated to performance audits. The internal audit work program was designed to focus on core business activities, particularly program administration, and to mitigate risks identified through the annual risk-assessment processes.

The following audits were undertaken:

  • Strengthening Aviation Security Program
  • Implementation of Clarity (Phase 1)
  • Administration of Aviation Programs
  • Delegations Compliance
  • FMA Compliance—Procurement
  • IT Change Management
  • Office of Transport Security—Procurement Management
  • Office of Transport Security—Management of Compliance Findings, and
  • Protective Security Policy Framework—Gap Analysis.

Ethical standards

In July 2010 the Department established an internal probity advisory role to ensure particular probity requirements and evidence of ethical behaviour are demonstrated when conducting particular processes.

In 2010–11, the Department continued its requirement for the preparation of probity plans for all grant programs, open-tender activities above $500,000, and any other procurement activity considered to be high risk or sensitive. These probity plans use templates designed to ensure that the highest standard of ethical behaviour is evident in all covered processes.

In 2010–11, the Department continued to deliver the training program Working Ethically and Professionally in the APS, which is specifically aimed at building capability in ethical decision-making and behaviour in accord with the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

Client service standards

The Department is committed to providing its clients with a high level of service, and welcomes feedback on its results. The Department's client service charter sets out its service standards and explains how clients can provide feedback or lodge a complaint if they are not satisfied with the service received. The client service charter is available on the Department's website at

In 2010–11, six complaints were received and resolved under the provisions of the client service charter. All complaints were investigated and, where appropriate, internal procedures were amended to reduce the risk that such concerns reoccur.

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Last Updated: 29 October, 2014