Chapter 7: Management and Accountability
Corporate Services Division's primary objective is to provide high quality business services, systems, support and advice to the Executive and the Department's divisions to enable them to deliver their programmes and activities.
Through its professional teams the Division is responsible for providing a broad range of corporate services including financial management, workforce management, information and communication technology, ministerial and parliamentary services, legal services, property management, governance, planning, reporting and evaluation, and communications services.
The Department's governance framework is designed to ensure that the principles of good governance are applied in all aspects of its work, and that high standards of performance, conformance and accountability are maintained. The governance framework promotes impartiality, commitment to service, accountability, respectfulness and ethical behaviour to maintain high standards of governance and instil confidence in all who deal with the Department.
Three high-level departmental groups meet regularly and assist the Secretary and senior management in decision-making. They are the Secretary's Business Meeting, Executive Management Team and Senior Executive Service Management Team.
The most senior is the Secretary's Business Meeting comprising the Secretary, deputy secretaries and Chief Operating Officer. It meets weekly to consider departmental business priorities, ministerial and parliamentary business, corporate policy, departmental resourcing and operational matters.
The Executive Management Team, 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 divisions). Other employees, including the Chief Financial Officer, General Counsel, Chief Information Officer and general managers within the Corporate Services Division, attend meetings in an advisory capacity.
The Executive Management Team:
- is briefed by executive directors on key issues for each division
- considers strategic policy proposals and updates on issues such as financial and human resource management
- receives advice from the Secretary's Business Meeting, and
- enables the Secretary to communicate key messages about departmental performance, areas for improvement and emerging priorities.
Senior Executive Service Management Team meetings are held as required for a half or full day.Departmental employees and external speakers may be invited to give presentations on key issues.The Senior Executive Service Management Team meetings:
- promote closer links and engagement among the senior executive service
- encourage participation by senior executive service employees in organisational management discussions
- provide feedback to the Executive on key management issues, and
- update senior executive service employees on important government and operational matters.
Specific Organisational Management Committees
Three committees focus on specific areas of organisational management and decision making.
The Audit Committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the Secretary and the Executive Management Team 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.
In accordance with its charter, the Audit Committee:
- monitors the Department's risk management framework
- endorses the internal audit work programme and monitors its implementation
- provides a forum for the Department and the Australian National Audit Office to exchange views on external audit findings and associated recommendations, and
- oversees preparation of the Department's financial statements in conjunction with the Financial Statements Sub-committee.
The Audit Committee was chaired by Deputy Secretary Andrew Wilson and met four times. The committee has six members including two independent members and four departmental representatives. Meetings were attended by observers including the internal audit manager, representatives from other areas of the Department and the Australian National Audit Office.
The Finance, Reporting and Programme Committee:
- is a forum for finance, reporting and programme management issues
- oversees the Department's budget process and recommends budget priorities
- oversees the strategic management and delivery of administered programmes
- considers monthly financial reports
- considers workforce reports and initiatives
- considers quarterly work health and safety reports, and
- considers priority evaluations and related Department activities.
This committee meets monthly and consists of the Secretary, deputy secretaries, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and the General Manager of the People and Performance Branch.
The Strategic Information Technology and Security Committee:
- develops a common vision for the Department's information technology and security requirements
- oversees data requirements and determines data-collection priorities
- recommends IT and security funding priorities
- recommends information and protective security policies, and
- provides a forum to discuss IT and security issues.
The committee meets quarterly and is chaired by Deputy Secretary Lyn O'Connell.
Planning and Reporting Framework
The Department published the 2014–15 Portfolio Budget Statements in May 2014 which:
- describe the outcomes, programmes and administered items for which the Department will receive funding in the forthcoming budget year
- detail objectives and components of each programme and the goods and services that each will deliver during the year
- set financial and other performance targets for each programme, and
- present the Department's budgeted financial statements for the budget year and three forward-years.
The Portfolio Budget Statements inform the development of strategic business plans for each division. Three times a year, divisions review progress against business plans. This informs the Executive of achievements and any emerging areas of concern in relation to the delivery of agreed outcomes.
Department-Wide Risk Management
The Department maintained an overarching risk management policy to manage and monitor identified risks. This involved:
- presenting the Department's risks to the Executive to confirm they are aligned with changing functions and directions
- coordinating input into the departmental risk register with contributions from all divisions to ensure divisional risks are identified and mitigated, and
- updating the departmental risk profile which contributed to the development of the Department's 2014–15 internal audit work plan.
The Department continued to revise and update the departmental risk framework in 2014–15. The framework is structured around four risk categories: programme failure, policy advice failure, regulatory failure, and organisational risk.
Categorising risk around these themes helps establish links between divisions, promote co-ownership of risks and develop a more consistent approach to managing risk.
In 2014–15 the internal audit work programme was prepared through a risk-based approach and endorsed by the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee is provided with updated risk reports throughout the year.
Business Continuity Management
Business continuity management is also an important part of the Department's overall approach to effective risk management. The aims of the business continuity response are to:
- ensure the uninterrupted availability of key resources necessary to support critical business functions, so that these can continue to be delivered pre, during and post event
- provide a coordinated response to the event so that normal business is resumed in a way that minimises the overall disruption to the Department, and
- ensure the safety and wellbeing of departmental staff.
The Department continued to monitor risk factors during 2014–15 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 2015–16 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.
Information Publication Scheme
Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 are required to publish information as part of the Information Publication Scheme. This requirement is in Part II of the Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. The Department's plan shows the information that is published in accordance with the requirements of the Information Publication Scheme is available at www.infrastructure.gov.au/department/ips/index.aspx.
Decisions by the Australian Information Commissioner
Two reviews by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner were finalised in 2014–15. The decisions can be found at www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/applying-the-foi-act/ic-review-decisions.
Decisions of Courts and Tribunals
In 2014–15 the Department was involved in a small number of matters before Australian courts and tribunals. These related to issues such as motor vehicle imports, approval of airport master plans and major development plans, airport curfew breaches, freedom of information, matters concerning approvals and designations under the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2013, and licensing under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012. Some matters were ongoing at 30 June 2015.
Legal Services Expenditure
For 2014–15 the Department's legal expenditure was:
- $9,668,380.76 for total external legal services expenditure, and
- $976,615.00 for total internal legal services expenditure.
Audit Office and Parliamentary Scrutiny
Reports on matters relating to the Department are released by the Australian National Audit Office, parliamentary committees or other public bodies.
The Department formally responds to the Australian National Audit Office reports in writing, and it includes the Department's responses in its reports which are available online at www.anao.gov.au/Publications/Audit-Reports.
Details of the reports of parliamentary committee inquiries are available online at www.aph.gov.au. The Australian Government tables its responses to parliamentary inquiries and other reports in the Parliament.
Table 7.1 lists the reports relating to the Department that were released in 2014–15 and dates these were tabled in Parliament.
Table 7.1 External reports relating to the Department in 2014–15
|Australian National Audit Office|
|Departmental audits||Design and Conduct of the Third and Fourth Funding Rounds of the Regional Development Australia Fund||27 November 2014|
|Cross-portfolio audits||Audit of the Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the period 30 June 2014||18 December 2014|
|Interim Phase of the Audits of the Financial Statements of Major General Government Sector Agencies for the year ending 30 June 2015||5 June 2015|
|Administration of the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements by Emergency Management Australia*||30 April 2015|
|Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs||Eyes in the Sky: inquiry into drones and the regulation of air safety and privacy||14 July 2014|
|Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport||Infrastructure Australia Amendment (Cost Benefit Analysis and other Measures) Bill 2014||26 Novembe 2014|
|Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport||Role of Public Transport in delivering Productivity Outcomes||5 December 2014|
|Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications||Planning, Procurement and Funding for Australia's Future Infrastructure: Report on the Inquiry into Infrastructure Planning and Procurement||4 December 2014|
|Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories||Same country: different world—The future of Norfolk Island||20 October 2014|
Note: * The Australian Government Reconstruction Inspectorate, supported by the National Disaster Recovery Taskforce (within the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development) provides assurance in relation to expenditures covered by the National Partnership Agreements, while the Attorney–General's Department retains responsibility for all Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements payments and acquittals.
Senior Executive Service employees of the Department, in addition to attending specific parliamentary inquiries, also attend Senate Estimates Committee hearings to respond to questions about the Department's activities.
Table 7.2 provides a summary of the number of parliamentary questions on notice received by the Department.
Table 7.2 Parliamentary questions in 2014–15
|Source of questions||Number|
|House of Representatives||44|
|Senate Estimates Committee hearings||612|
Management of Human Resources
- The Workforce Plan 2014–15 was released which focused on ensuring the Department had the necessary workforce capability to deliver outcomes for the Australian Government.
- The Department participated in the Australian Public Service Employee Census which found that the Department received stronger results compared to similar agencies in the areas of autonomy and efficiency. Results for commitment, loyalty and engagement were consistent with the results for the broader Australian Public Service.
- The Department ranked second overall in the Australian Government for the 2014 University Vacation Employment Program in the Australian Association of Graduate Employers intern programme rankings.
- A proactive approach was taken to review and evaluate the learning and development programme to ensure it was meeting the needs of employees. New programmes were developed, concentrating on change management, decision making, communication and regulatory skills. There was a significant increase in the number of employees attending these new programmes and evaluation results were extremely positive.
- There was an increased focus on developing core management and leadership skills, particularly managing and leading change, which was highlighted in the 2013–14 State of the Service report as a key area for development. To support formal learning, employees were provided with more opportunities to engage directly with the senior executive to discuss leadership within the Department and the wider Australian Public Service. These conversations, supported by group and individual coaching, informed individual management and leadership development pathways.
- A learning management system was developed and implemented to facilitate learning across the Department. The system is linked to individual development plans, enabling each employee to identify a range of learning opportunities related to their role and career development.
- Our Graduate Development Program was ranked the number one graduate programme in the Australian Government and number five overall in the Australian Association of Graduate Employers 2015 top graduate employer rankings. This was the second year running that our programme has been voted number one in the Australian Government.
- The Department continued to develop initiatives under our Workplace Diversity and Equity Strategy to help attract, recruit, develop and retain skilled and talented employees. Particular emphasis was given to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians, people with disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- The Department had a number of notable achievements in regards to workplace diversity, including:
- increasing the number of students engaged through the Australian Network on Disability's ‘Stepping Into…’ internship for students with disability
- supporting and promoting a number of Australian Disability Enterprises through the Department's International Day of People with Disability celebrations
- offering disability confidence and awareness training for employees
- supporting two employees to work in an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community through the Jawun Indigenous APS Community Secondment Programme
- using special measures recruitment for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians in the Department's Graduate Development Program
- redesigning the Department's Indigenous Traineeship Program to increase the career pathways for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander trainees
- establishing relationships with university diversity centres, and
- celebrating World Day of Cultural Diversity by running language classes for departmental employees.
The Department implemented the final step from the September 2013 machinery-of-Government changes with the release from the Determination under subsection 24 (3) of the Public Service Act 1999 from 1 June 2015. As a result of the release from the Determination, all Australian Public Service non-Senior Executive Service departmental employees are now employed under the Department of Infrastructure and Transport Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014. This agreement determines conditions of employment for non-Senior Executive Service employees.
In addition to salary, the Department provided its employees with a range of non-salary benefits including activities targeting employee health and wellbeing, support for professional and personal development and access to flexible working arrangements.
The Department made no performance payments to Senior Executive Service employees and provided 12 performance payments to non-Senior Executive Service employees. Employees who received performance payments were employees from the former Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.
Since 1994, Australian Government departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission's State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. From 2010–11, departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.
The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a 10 year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports will be available in late 2014, and can be found at www.dss.gov.au.
Human Resources Statistics
Table 7.3 Workforce location profile, including holders of public office, by classification
|APS 1–4 and equivalent||APS 5–6 and equivalent||EL1 and equivalent||EL2 and equivalent||SES/SEC and equivalent||Holder of Public office||Total|
|June 2014||June 2015||June 2014||June 2015||June 2014||June 2015||June 2014||June 2015||June 2014||June 2015||June 2014||June 2015||June 2014||June 2015|
|Employees and public office holders|
|Pacific Ocean Territories||1||1||1||1||1||3|
Table 7.4 Workforce gender profile, including holders of public office (employees who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians are shown in brackets)
|Holder of public office||1||3||4||12||5||15|
|Ongoing full-time||489(10)||448(8)||564(9)||559 (6)||1053(19)||1007(14)|
Table 7.5 Salary ranges for departmental employees by classification
30 June 2014 ($) Former Infrastructure
30 June 2014 ($) Former Regional
30 June 2015 ($)
|Secretary||The Secretary's remuneration is determined by the Prime Minister after taking into account the recommendations of the Remuneration Tribunal.|
Notes: Effective from 1 June 2015, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development was released from the s24(3) Determination that covered former employees of the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. The pay, benefits and employment conditions of these employees have been aligned with conditions specified in the enterprise agreement of the former Department of Infrastructure and Transport.
* IFAs, Salary Maintenance and Annualised Shift Allowance have been reflected in the above maximum salary figures for these classifications. The Department of Infrastructure and Transport Enterprise Agreement 2011–14 was agreed by departmental officers in June 2011. The Department is negotiating a new agreement within the terms of the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy.
Table 7.6 Number of staff employed, by type of employment agreement, at 30 June 2014
Section 24(1) determination under the Public Service Act 1999
Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFAs)
|Senior Executive Service (SES)||44||Nil||Nil||44|
Table 7.7 Employee recruitment and retention in 2014–15
|Graduates recruited externally||27|
|Other external recruits||78|
|Total external recruits||105|
|Retention rate (%)||90.02|
|Transfers/promotions to another Australian Public Service entity||41|
|Resignations and retirements||59|
Note: Non-ongoing employees are excluded from recruitment numbers and retention and separation data.
Table 7.8 Workforce diversity at 30 June 2015
|People from non-English speaking backgrounds||174|
|People with disability||28|
|Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people||15|
Note: Includes ongoing and non-ongoing employees. Excludes Holders of Public Office.
Information (except gender data sourced from payroll records) has been sourced from an equity and diversity report where individuals have volunteered to provide their diversity information to the Department.
Best Australian Government Graduate Programme
The Department's Graduate Development Program retained the highest ranking amongst Australian Government graduate programmes in the 2015 Top Graduate Employers rankings. It also moved up seven places in the overall standing for Australian graduate employers to fifth place.
The rankings are determined from survey feedback gathered from graduates after they have spent 12 months working with their respective organisations. The rise of the Department in these rankings reflects the comprehensive training and wide range of opportunities for career advancement offered.
As well as on-the-job training, our graduates also undertake a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration through the University of Canberra and complete a graduate industry tour. This enables graduates to explore in detail the Department's diverse real-world functions and see how its work contributes to the Australian community. It also provides graduates with an understanding and appreciation of the broader context in which the Department interacts with key industry stakeholders, other government agencies and the Australian community.
In 2014 six industry tour groups researched a range of priority issues nominated by the Department's divisions, including aviation security, identity security, western Sydney and regional airports, landside freight access and regional development. Graduates then prepared a research report and presented their findings to the Executive and wider Department. These reports were used to inform the development and evaluation of policies and programmes.
Are we there yet? The Secretary's Presentation to the Canberra Evaluation Forum
In March 2015 Secretary Mike Mrdak spoke to the Canberra Evaluation Forum about the Department's experiences since 2011 in developing our evaluation capability and culture. This included information on our evaluation strategy, which formalises the Department's commitment to continuous improvement and accountability.
Launched in 2012, the five-year evaluation strategy is developing a culture of reflective thinking to ensure we systematically and objectively evaluate what we do, why we do it, what we have achieved and what we could do better. It ensures that evaluation activities are undertaken with the following principles:
- plan for success
- allocate sufficient resources
- learn by doing
- strategically prioritise evaluations
- conduct objective, honest and ethical evaluations
- examine the past and consider the future, and
- share and use findings to improve performance.
The strategy aims to build a culture of ‘evaluative thinking’ to embed regular reflection, probing and improvement in our everyday work and key business processes. It also encourages us to be smarter about the information we collect, and to use existing information sources where possible and relevant.
Our evaluation strategy is reviewed each year to assess whether progress has been achieved towards the intended outcomes, and whether implementation strategies should be revised based on that progress and the Department's medium-term goals.
As a result of our evaluation activities, we have achieved greater collaboration with stakeholders, implemented programme improvements, clarified and established a shared understanding of objectives, increased the efficiency of data collection, and achieved greater accountability and more effective and timely monitoring of programme and regulatory performance.
We are continuing to implement the evaluation strategy and adapting it in line with the review findings. Outcomes of our implementation to date will be independently assessed in 2015–16 to help refocus the strategy for the next five years.