For the department to deliver outcomes in controlled, transparent and accountable ways, strong governance is essential.
The department’s governance framework comprises the principles, practices and tools needed to ensure the approach to governance is consistent and coordinated. Major elements include:
- coordinated business planning that reflects the department’s Corporate Plan
- performance monitoring through regular review of strategic and organisational performance measures—see Annual Performance Statement 2017–18
- strong management of the department’s major programs and projects
- the department’s Risk Management Framework.
Regulatory reform agenda
The Australian Government remains committed to improving the quality of its regulation, including minimising the burden of regulation on businesses, community organisations and individuals. The department contributed $4.8 million in deregulation savings towards this agenda in 2017–18. The department has contributed savings of $323 million to the Deregulation Agenda since it commenced in 2013.
Governance committee framework
The department’s governance committee structure at 30 June 2018 includes the Executive Committee and eight supporting governance committees that provide advice and assurance.
A number of the committees have an independent chair and/or members who are senior experienced professionals from outside the organisation who offer an additional level of independent oversight and assurance.
Executive Committee—provides advice to the Secretary 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 at least twice each month.
Enterprise Transformation Committee—provides advice and assurance to the Secretary on major enterprise transformation activities to ensure coordinated delivery of the department’s transformation. The Secretary chairs the committee, which meets monthly.
Finance and Investment Committee—provides advice to the Secretary on financial issues and internal investment. The Secretary chairs the committee, which meets at least quarterly.
ICT Committee—provides strategic advice relating to the information and communications technology (ICT) operations of the department, including ICT investment and architecture decisions. The committee also provides strategic guidance on critical ICT risks and issues for resolution to ensure that sufficient planning and controls are in place to mitigate strategic risks. The Secretary chairs the committee, which meets at least quarterly.
Audit Committee—reviews and gives independent advice and assurance on the appropriateness of the department’s financial and performance reporting and systems of risk oversight, risk management and internal control. The committee has an independent chair and three other independent members. It meets at least five times a year.
Implementation Committee—provides advice to the Secretary and Executive Committee to ensure the effective implementation of significant departmental change initiatives and programs and projects. The committee is chaired by the Deputy Secretary, Enabling Services, and has one independent member. It meets monthly.
Service Delivery Committee—provides advice and assurance to the Secretary and the Executive Committee on the department’s service delivery priorities and arrangements. The committee is chaired by the Deputy Secretary, Service Delivery Operations, and has one independent member. It meets monthly.
Workforce Management Committee—provides advice and assurance to the Secretary and Executive Committee on all departmental workforce and people matters. The Deputy Secretary, Corporate Services, chairs the committee. It meets monthly.
Program and project management
In 2017–18 the department continued to improve its program and project management. This included finding better ways to deliver budget measures, legislative reforms and transformation initiatives.
Work during the year included:
- improving governance of programs and projects
- improving risk management and change management practices
- streamlining program and project management processes and artefacts
- improving the quality, timeliness and accuracy of reporting
- developing senior officials and program/project managers
- building an engaged program and project management community.
Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 allows for investigation of allegations of serious wrongdoing in the APS and provides protections for staff who disclose or report suspected wrongdoing. Staff undertake mandatory refresher training that includes information about making a public interest disclosure.
The department’s responsibilities and functions under the Act are delegated to a core group of staff to ensure that disclosures are controlled and managed consistently and correctly.
In 2017–18 the department received ten public interest disclosures. There were six in 2016–17.
Of the ten disclosures received, two were assessed as not being public interest disclosures under the Act, four were not investigated further, disclosable conduct was not found in three, and one disclosure is under investigation.
The role of the department’s internal audit function is to provide objective and independent assurance on business activities. Internal auditing promotes accountability, transparency and sound governance.
Each year the department develops a risk‑based rolling work program of internal audit priorities for the coming 12 months, designed to ensure broad coverage of responsibilities and activities. The internal audit team developed the program for 2017–18 in consultation with the Senior Executive Service (SES), the Audit Committee and the Secretary. It focused on the business risks associated with the digital transformation of customer services.
In 2017–18 the department presented 26 internal audits to the Audit Committee. External consultants selected from the department’s internal audit services panel completed these audits in accordance with the standards of the Institute of Internal Auditors International Professional Practices Framework.
The internal audit team also continued to monitor the implementation of internal and Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit recommendations, providing advice and assistance on request to the responsible business areas.
The department has a business continuity program based on the international standard BS ISO 22301:2012 Societal security: Business continuity management systems—Requirements.
The business continuity team conducts business continuity analysis to support the development of the department’s business continuity plans, then tests these plans through a formal validation program to confirm response and recovery arrangements.
The team reports on the progress of business continuity activities to the department’s Executive Committee.