Chapter 7: Management and Accountability
The primary objective of the Corporate Services Division is to enable the Department and its business divisions to deliver business priorities and activities. It seeks to do this by providing high quality and contemporary business services, systems, support and advice to the Executive and the Department's divisions.
Through its professional teams, the Division is responsible for providing a broad range of corporate services including financial management, workforce management and planning, information and communication technology, ministerial and parliamentary services, legal services, property and office services management, governance, business planning, reporting, audit, risk management and evaluation, and communications services.
The Department's governance framework promotes the principles of good governance and ensures they are applied in ways that encourage all employees to be accountable for their actions; to focus on high standards of performance; to strive for excellence; and ensure the efficient, effective and ethical management of resources. The governance framework includes committees focused on particular areas of organisational management; business planning and reporting activities; performance management; management of risk; audit and evaluation activities; and activities which promote awareness of ethical standards.
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 emerging 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. 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
- considers and endorses the internal audit work program 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.
To meet the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, the Audit Committee was restructured to include three independent members and two departmental representatives, with an independent Chair, Mr Geoff Knuckey. The Audit Committee met four times. Observers included the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, internal audit manager, internal audit providers, representatives from other areas of the Department and the Australian National Audit Office.
The Finance, Reporting and Program Committee:
- is a forum for finance, reporting and program management issues
- oversees the Department's budget process and recommends budget priorities
- oversees the strategic management and delivery of administered programs
- considers monthly financial reports and determines internal allocation of the departmental budget
- considers monthly 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, the General Manager of the People and Performance Branch and the Deputy Chief Financial Officer.
The Strategic Information Technology and Security Committee:
- develops a common vision for the Department's information technology and security requirements
- oversees data and information requirements and determines 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 comprises a Deputy Secretary, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Financial Officer and the executive directors of Infrastructure Investment, Policy and Research, and the Office of Transport Security.
Planning and Reporting Framework
The Department published the 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements in May 2015. These:
- describe the outcomes, programs and administered items for which the Department will receive funding in the forthcoming budget year
- detail objectives of each program and the goods and services that each will deliver during the year
- set financial and other performance targets for each program, and
- present the Department's budgeted financial statements for the budget year and three forward years.
In July 2015, the Department published its first Corporate Plan. This covers a four-year period (2015–16 to 2018–19) and will be updated annually. It is designed to be the principal planning document and informs the reader about the Department's purposes, operational environment, key priorities, major activities to be undertaken and how performance will be measured. It also includes information on capability building and risk management.
Results against planned performance featured in the Department's 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements and Corporate Plan can be found in the Annual Performance Statement section of this report.
Both the Portfolio Budget Statements and Corporate Plan inform the strategic business plans for each division. Three times a year, divisional leadership reviews progress against business plans together with the Executive. 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 updated its departmental risk framework in 2015–16. The framework is based on four risk categories: program failure; regulatory failure; organisational failure; and policy advice failure. It emphasises that managing risk properly helps develop operational innovation and reduce red tape.
Business Continuity Management
Business continuity management is 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 be delivered pre, during and post event
- provide a coordinated response to an event so that normal business is resumed in a way that minimises disruption to the Department, and
- ensure the safety and wellbeing of departmental staff.
The Department continued to monitor risk factors during 2015–16 and changed processes and controls where necessary to meet the expectations of the Executive and Australian Government's protective security requirements. This process will continue in 2016–17 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.
In 2015–16, the internal audit work program was developed through a risk-based approach and endorsed by the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee is provided with updated risk reports throughout the year.
In June 2016, the Department launched an Evaluation Strategy 2016–21 and Evaluation Resource Booklet 2016–21, to further embed a culture of reflective and evaluative thinking in the Department to ensure we get the best results from what we do. The strategy is designed to promote a shared understanding and commitment to the Department's approaches on evaluation. The resource booklet is designed to provide practical information and guidance to employees before undertaking an evaluation-related activity.
Seven training courses were held to build skills in developing policy/program/regulatory logics, monitoring and evaluation. Mentoring was also trialed to provide employees with assistance to develop logics, monitoring, risk and compliance activities for particular areas of work.
The Department is committed to maintaining high standards of integrity, good governance and ethics. All employees are required to uphold the Australian Public Service Values, Employment Principles and Code of Conduct.
Guidance and training is provided to all employees for ethical decision making and to assist in recognising and dealing with ethical issues. In 2015–16, the Department developed a new ethical standards training module available to all employees to complete via the Learning Management System. An information pack was also developed to underscore SES employees having discussions with their divisional and branch employees on ethical standards of behaviour. Under a longstanding requirement, all SES employees within the Department have been required to submit an annual declaration of their interests.
In 2015–16, a review was conducted to identify particular Executive Level 2 roles which, due to the nature and sensitivity of the work, require the relevant employee to submit declarations of any potential for a perceived or actual conflict of interest. As a result of this review, a process has been established which ensures employees holding these positions, or acting in these positions for periods of three months or longer, also submit a declaration upon commencement and on an annual basis triggered to coincide with the SES process.
Information Publication Scheme
Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 are required to publish information to the public 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. It is available at www.infrastructure.gov.au/department/ips/index.aspx.
Decisions by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Eight freedom of information decisions made by the Department were reviewed by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, however these were all either withdrawn or closed due to inactivity. As such, there were no reviews of the Department's freedom of information decisions finalised by the Information Commissioner during the reporting period.
Decisions of Courts and Tribunals
In 2015–16, the Department was involved in some matters before Australian courts and tribunals. These related to issues such as motor vehicle imports, approval of airport master plans and major development plans, freedom of information, and licensing under the Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Act 2012. Some matters were ongoing at 30 June 2016.
Legal Services Expenditure
For 2015–16 the Department's legal expenditure was:
- $12,507,925.05 for total external legal services expenditure, and
- $1,408,269.09 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 and other public bodies.
The Department formally responds to the Australian National Audit Office's reports in writing, which includes the Department's responses in its reports, which are available at www.anao.gov.au/Publications/Audit-Reports.
Details of the reports of Parliamentary Committee inquiries are available 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 which were released in 2015–16 and the dates these were tabled in Parliament.
Table 7.1 External Reports Relating to the Department in 2015–16
|Australian National Audit Office|
|Departmental audits||Approval and Administration of Commonwealth Funding for the East West Link Project||14 December 2015|
|Design and Implementation of the First Funding Round of the Bridges Renewal Program||20 January 2016|
|Cross-portfolio audits||Delivery and Evaluation of Grant Programs||15 March 2016|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee||Shipping Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 [Provisions]||12 October 2015|
|Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications||Motor Vehicle Standards (Cheaper Transport) Bill 2014||25 November 2015|
|Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories||Governance in the Indian Ocean Territories—Final report: Economic Development and Governance||15 March 2016|
|Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities||Smart ICT: Report on the inquiry into the role of smart ICT in the design and planning of infrastructure||15 March 2016|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee||Transport Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill 2016 [Provisions]||22 April 2016|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee||Decision to commit funding to the Perth Freight Link project||3 May 2016|
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 2015–16
|Source of questions||Number|
|House of Representatives||63|
|Senate Estimates Committee hearings||414|
Management of Human Resources
- The Department successfully negotiated and implemented a new Enterprise Agreement. It was approved by an all staff ballot in February 2016 and came into effect on 28 March 2016. The new agreement nominally expires on 20 March 2019.
- The Department was successful in its application to the Fair Work Commission to modernise the Christmas Island Administration Award 2003. The Fair Work Commission approved the application and made the Christmas Island Administration Enterprise Award 2016 on 23 May 2016, resulting in a new safety net and minimum terms and conditions for the Minister's employees on Christmas Island.
- The Workforce Plan 2015–16 was released which focuses on ensuring the Department has the necessary workforce capability to deliver outcomes for the Australian Government. Workforce metrics and analytics reports on a range of workforce issues, such as identifying spans of control ratios, measuring the rate of internal employee mobility, and reviewing separation patterns over time. These will inform the Department's next workforce plan, for implementation in 2016–17.
- The Australian Public Service Employee Census found that the Department received stronger results compared to similar agencies in the areas of job security, autonomy, recruitment and selection, and efficiency. Results for commitment, loyalty and engagement were similar to the results for the broader Australian Public Service.
- During 2015–16, Learning and Development continued to build and extend capability in key areas including in policy, regulatory development, leadership and management, communication, change management and stakeholder engagement. During this period, employees engaged in more than 5,300 learning opportunities. Of these, 33 per cent occurred through classroom delivery offered within the department, 61 per cent through online learning and the remainder through a range of external offerings including seminars and conferences.
- The Department also continued to deliver its nationally recognised award winning Graduate Development Program. This provided new graduates with exposure to a variety of work opportunities across the department through job rotations and industry work experience, as well as formal learning opportunities including a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration.
- The Department ranked 25th overall and first in the Australian Government for the 2015–16 University Vacation Employment Program in the Australian Association of Graduate Employers intern program rankings.
- Initiatives continued to be developed under our Workplace Diversity and Equity Strategy to help attract, develop and retain skilled and talented employees. Emphasis was given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, people with a disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- A number of milestones were achieved around workplace diversity, including:
- developing the Department's 2016–2019 Diversity and Inclusion Strategy
- developing the Department's 2016–2018 Reconciliation Action Plan
- engaging participants for the first time through the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program
- celebrating National Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week and International Day of People with Disability
- appointing and briefing new Diversity Champions, and
- reviewing the Disability Working Group and launching the Infrastructure Disability Engagement Alliance.
The Department's Enterprise Agreement 2016 was approved by an all staff ballot and came into effect on 28 March 2016. The agreement provided a three per cent increase to base salary and allowances for all non-SES employees on commencement. Following the successful ballot for the new agreement, Senior Executive Service employees also received an equivalent increase to base salary in March 2016.
In addition to salary, the Department provides 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 employees, including Senior Executive Service employees, during the reporting period.
Since 1994, non-corporate entities have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the National 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 National Disability Strategy was overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020. This sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with a 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 a disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 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|
|Employees and public office holders|
|Indian Ocean Territories||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||1||-||-||-||-||-||1|
|Pacific Ocean Territories||-||-||1||2||-||2||1||2||1||-||-||-||3||6|
Table 7.4 Workforce Gender Profile, Including Holders of Public Office (Employees who Identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australians are shown in brackets)
|Total||566 (9)||556 (10)||597 (6)||568 (8)||1,163 (15)||1,124 (18)|
|Holder of public office||3||3||12||13||15||16|
|Ongoing full-time||448 (8)||457 (9)||559 (6)||529 (8)||1,007 (14)||986 (17)|
|Ongoing part-time||97 (1)||90 (1)||17||20||114 (1)||110 (1)|
Table 7.5 Salary Ranges for Departmental Employees by Classification
|30 June 2015 ($)||30 June 2016 ($)|
|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 which covered former employees of the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport. Employment conditions were then aligned with those specified in the enterprise agreement of the former Department of Infrastructure and Transport until this was replaced on 28 March 2016 by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Enterprise Agreement 2016.
* Individual flexibility arrangements, salary maintenance and annualised shift allowance have been reflected in the maximum salary figures above for these classifications.
Table 7.6 Number of Employees Employed, by Type of Employment Agreement at 30 June 2016 (Employees with Individual Flexibility Arrangements are shown in brackets)
|Section 24(1) determination under the Public Service Act 1999||Enterprise Agreement||Total Employees|
Table 7.7 Employee Recruitment and Retention in 2015–16
|Graduates recruited externally||35|
|Other external recruits||132|
|Total external recruits||167|
|Retention rate (%)||84.08|
|Transfers/promotions to another Australian Public Service entity||87|
|Resignations and retirements||79|
Note: Non-ongoing employees are excluded from recruitment numbers and retention and separation data.
Table 7.8 Workforce Diversity at 30 June 2016
|People from non-English speaking backgrounds||180|
|People with a disability||34|
|Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people||18|
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.
2015 Building Resilience program
Now in its third year, the Building Resilience program focuses on creating a healthier Department by building resilience in all parts of life through its five streams—health; leadership; diversity; rewards and recognition; and communication.
In 2015–16, the program was themed around the ‘Centenary of Anzac’ to recognise the service and sacrifice of members of our armed forces, and their spirit of resilience.
The program was launched by John Bale, Chief Executive Officer of Soldier On, a charity organisation which works to support Australia's wounded service personnel, and included:
- guided tours of the Australian War Memorial, with proceeds donated to Soldier On
- 49 significant key dates in Australia's military history displayed in the foyers, as well as information on the red poppy and the Ode
- exhibitions on Australian military history, featuring artefacts from the Australian War Memorial
- a conversational event between former war correspondent Hugh Riminton and a wounded Afghanistan veteran and his wife, and
- the commemoration of key dates such as Anzac Day, Legacy Week and Remembrance Day.
The Secretary Mike Mrdak AO, also attended a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial and laid a wreath on behalf of the Department.
The Building Resilience program also included a range of speakers from all walks of life and career paths. Robert de Castella shared his passion for all Australians to be healthy. Connie Johnson, breast cancer advocate and fundraiser, spoke about the importance of early detection and the importance of ‘being breast aware’. Sherene Hassan, a director of the Islamic Museum of Australia, spoke of her work to stem hateful and divisive language on both sides of the conversation.
Within the leadership stream, employees heard from Jim Betts, CEO Infrastructure NSW; Karl Kent, Director of the Victoria Police Forensic Services; and Philip Lowe, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. In addition to their knowledge as subject matter experts, these speakers also contributed insights into demonstrating resilience in rapidly changing environments.
2015 Graduate Development Program
In 2015, the Department was again voted an Australian Top Graduate Employer as surveyed by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers. This acknowledgement is testament to the success of the Graduate Development Program in providing graduates with the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge to priority work across the Department.
Graduates have access to on-the-job rotations, formal training, coaching, mentoring, and engagement with industry. This supports graduates to develop a depth of understanding of the responsibilities of the Department in the design and implementation of the Australian Government's infrastructure, transport and regional development policies and programs.
During the 12 month program, graduates undertook rotations across the Department's divisions. Complementing these rotations was the opportunity to attain a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration. As part of completing this additional professional qualification, graduates engaged in a project which explored a policy issue of direct relevance to the functions of the Department. Graduates completed their projects in teams, working with the direction and guidance of an experienced departmental leader.
In 2015, the project topics enabled graduates to build skills in policy development, regulatory design and program management. Graduates also had the opportunity to engage directly with stakeholders, other government agencies, and the Australian community; gaining first-hand insight into the broader context of the Department's priorities.