Strong governance is key to the department delivering outcomes in controlled, transparent and accountable ways, and serving its customers efficiently and effectively.
The governance framework outlines the principles, practices and tools we need to ensure our approach to governance is consistent and coordinated. Major elements include:
- coordinated business planning which reflects the department’s Strategic Plan
- performance monitoring, including key performance indicator reporting—see Table 1 on page 12
- an integrated risk management framework—see Risk management on page 98
During 2014-15 the department:
- implemented the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and supporting policies
- developed the 2015-19 Strategic Plan. The plan outlines the department’s strategic direction, and includes the vision, mission, themes and priorities that shape our business planning
- updated the Portfolio Budget Statements to align with the 2015-19 Strategic Plan
- reviewed and updated our key performance indicators for consistency with the Enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework
- improved risk management through regular reviews, management of enterprise risk interdependencies, and governance of risk through the department’s Risk, Business Continuity and Security Committee
Governance committee framework
The department’s governance committee structure at 30 June 2015 includes the Executive Committee and seven supporting governance committees that provide advice and assurance to the Executive Committee. The performance of governance committees against their purpose, key activities and deliverables is reviewed annually by members.
Executive Committee—provides advice to the Secretary who has overall accountability to support the Minister in delivering the department’s responsibilities and contributing to broader government priorities. The committee advises on the department’s strategic directions, and on significant management and investment decisions. It also monitors financial performance, risk and compliance standards. The Secretary chairs the committee which meets weekly.
Audit Committee—reviews and gives independent advice and assurance about the appropriateness of the department’s financial and performance reporting, and systems of risk oversight, risk management, and internal control. This committee has 3 independent members, including Mr Mark Ridley as Chair, and meets at least quarterly.
Customer Committee—provides advice and assurance to the Secretary and Executive Committee that customer service achieves high quality government outcomes that are consistent with best practice. This committee meets monthly.
Finance and Investment Committee—provides advice and assurance to the Executive Committee that all significant investment decisions are transparent and accountable. The Secretary chairs this committee which meets at least quarterly.
ICT Committee—provides advice and assurance to the Secretary and Executive Committee that ICT management, operations and expenditure deliver the desired outcomes within the budget and timelines agreed by government.
People and Leadership Committee—provides advice and assurance to the Secretary and Executive Committee on all departmental people strategies including people leadership management, people development and workforce strategies to maintain and create the capability to deliver government priorities and outcomes. This committee has 1 independent member and meets every 8 weeks.
Risk, Business Continuity and Security Committee—provides advice and assurance to the Secretary and Executive Committee that there is appropriate oversight of the department’s risk, business continuity and security arrangements. This committee has an independent Chair, Ms Philippa Godwin PSM, and meets monthly.
Transformation Committee—provides portfolio level advice and assurance to the Secretary and Executive Committee, focusing on the key programmes and projects across the department. This committee meets monthly.
Figure 6: Governance committee structure at 30 June 2015
The department participates in several external forums that bring together policy formulation, programme design and implementation to more effectively deliver outcomes for government. It also takes part in interdepartmental working groups formed occasionally for specific purposes. These include:
Health and Human Services Secretaries and Chief Executive Medicare Forum—enables the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health to engage on issues such as service delivery reform, eHealth, policy development, and effective administration and implementation of programmes. In 2014-15 its members were the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary Health, Compliance and Information (as Chief Executive Medicare) and the Secretary of the Department of Health.
Department of Social Services Bilateral Management Committee—sets the strategic direction of jointly managed work and fosters collaborative relationships between the department and the Department of Social Services (DSS). It also attempts to resolve all escalated issues raised within the performance assurance reporting process.
Reliance Framework Board—plays an advisory role in the design and delivery of the Reliance Framework (myGov digital service). The Reliance Framework is a whole-of-government initiative to improve access to online government services which is being delivered under the oversight of an interdepartmental board. The board provides a whole-of-government cross-agency approach in the design and delivery of the myGov service and provides a forum for cross-agency expertise and issues to be considered in the design and build of the myGov service. The Reliance Framework Board ceased on 30 June 2015.
Deregulation and red tape reduction
The government’s deregulation policy aims to reduce unnecessary red and green tape costs on individuals, businesses and community organisations by $1 billion net per year. The department contributed savings of $109.1 million to the government’s target in the 2014 calendar year, as reported in the Social Services (Department of Human Services) Annual Deregulation Report. A copy of the report is available on the department’s website.
Several areas across the department were involved with initiatives to improve interactions with the public and reduce red tape. These included:
- delivering additional functionality for myGov users—see myGov on page 155
- making it easier for customers to update their circumstance details online—see Personal details and circumstances updates on page 158
- working with the Department of Health to streamline the process for individuals and businesses who interact with the department on compensation matters
The department also consults with external parties about opportunities to reduce red tape through its national advisory groups and forums.
The department’s Quality Framework provides a single set of standards to ensure that the services we deliver are high quality and meet the expectations of both customers and government. The elements of the framework are accountability, quality processes, issues management, capability, culture and reporting. Underpinning these elements is the key principle of continuous improvement.
The department completed the first annual assessment of the Quality Framework in January 2015. It reflected the work of the Quality Advisory Group, which was formed to oversee quality across the department. The assessment highlighted early indicators of success, in particular areas where the framework was used. Supporting the framework is the Quality Hub which has tools and templates to assist in implementing elements of the framework.
The department also participated in a self-assessment against the Service Quality Guidelines developed by the International Social Security Association, of which the Secretary is a member. An overall rating of ‘advanced’ was achieved, which means the department has advanced structures, processes and mechanisms to support implementation of the guidelines.