Strong governance is key to the department delivering outcomes in controlled, transparent and accountable ways, and serving its customers efficiently and effectively.
The department’s governance framework comprises 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 Corporate Plan
- performance monitoring, through regular review of strategic and organisational performance measures-see Annual Performance Statement 2015-16
- strong management of the department’s major programmes and projects
- an integrated enterprise risk management framework
During 2015-16 the department:
- developed the 2015-16 Corporate Plan. The plan outlines the department’s purpose and includes the vision, mission, themes and priorities that shape our business planning
- updated the Portfolio Budget Statements to align 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 2016 includes the Executive Committee and 7 supporting governance committees that provide advice and assurance to the Executive Committee. A number of the committees also have an independent chair and/or members who are senior experienced professionals outside of the organisation who provide an additional level of independent oversight and advice.
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 4 independent members: Mr Mark Ridley as Chair and Ms Jenny Morison, Mr Nick Baker and Mr Andrew Dix. The Audit Committee 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 Executive Committee that the strategic ICT operations of the department including ICT investment and architecture decisions achieve high quality government outcomes. The Secretary chairs this committee which meets at least quarterly.
Workforce Management Committee-provides advice and assurance to the Secretary and Executive Committee on all departmental workforce and people matters. This Committee replaced the People and Leadership Committee and meets at least monthly.
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.
Implementation Committee-provides advice to the Secretary and Executive Committee to ensure the effective implementation of significant departmental change initiatives and programmes and projects. This committee has one independent member, Ms Sandra Lambert AM, and meets monthly.
Figure 6: Governance committee structure at 30 June 2016
Deregulation and Red Tape reduction
The government is committed to reducing the cost of red tape for individuals, businesses and community organisations by $3 billion over 3 years. The department contributed savings of $132.7 million to the government’s target in the 2015 calendar year, as reported in the Annual Red Tape Reduction Report 2015. A copy of the report is available on the Cutting Red Tape website at cuttingredtape.gov.au
Several areas across the department were involved with initiatives to improve interactions with the public and to reduce red tape. These included improving claims processes and online functionality for customers, and working with the Department of Education and Training to reduce the need for job seekers to phone the department or visit a service centre about participation activities.
The department also consults with external parties about opportunities to reduce red tape through its national advisory groups and forums.
Functional and efficiency review
A Functional and Efficiency Review (FER) was undertaken as part of the government’s Efficiency through Contestability Programme to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the department’s operations, programmes and administration. Mr David Tune AO PSM was appointed as the Independent Leader of the review. Mr Tune was supported by an independent secretariat, Yellow Edge Consulting.
Programme and Project Management
In 2015-16 the department made significant progress in improving the way we manage and coordinate a large number of programmes and projects across the department. This includes finding ways to better deliver Budget measures, legislative reforms and service transformation initiatives.
A key part of this was to set up a portfolio project function within the department to drive the improvements. Work during the year included:
- building on our programme and project management tools and methodologies
- helping managers and teams to follow our programme and project management frameworks
- conducting status reviews to provide assurance that projects are staying on track
- training around 3,000 staff, including SES officers with responsibility for specific programmes and projects
- regularly reporting on progress to the Implementation Committee, and alerting them to any issues or risks