Part 3: Management and accountability
Staff in the Corporate Services Division provide high-quality services, systems, support and advice to the executive and business divisions. This enables the activities which achieve the department purposes. Corporate responsibilities include financial management, workforce management and planning, information and communication technology, ministerial and parliamentary services, legal services, property and office services management, governance, business planning, audits, risk management and evaluation, and communication services.
The department's governance framework promotes the principles of good governance. It is applied in ways that encourage all employees to be accountable for their actions, focus on high standards of performance, strive for excellence, and ensure the efficient, effective and ethical management of resources. This framework includes committees focused on particular areas of organisational management, business planning and reporting activities, performance management, risk management, audit and evaluation activities, and activities which promote awareness of ethical standards.
The department implemented several changes to the high-level groups that helped the secretary and senior management with decision-making in 2017–18.
Before this, there were three high-level departmental governance groups—the Secretary's Business Meeting, Executive Management Team and Senior Executive Service Management Team. The most senior was the Secretary's Business Meeting, comprising the secretary, deputy secretaries and chief operating officer. It met weekly to consider departmental business priorities, ministerial and parliamentary business, corporate policy, departmental resourcing and operational matters, including risk management.
The executive management team, which also met weekly, was the main executive communication and coordination forum. the team consisted of the secretary, deputy secretaries, 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 other general managers within the Corporate Services Division, attended meetings in an advisory capacity.
In April 2018 an Executive Board replaced the Secretary's Business Meeting. The Executive Board meets each week and consists of the secretary, deputy secretaries, the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer and two other executive directors on a rotating basis. The first week of each month is an executive strategy discussion, consisting only of the secretary and deputy secretaries.
The Executive Board:
- provides strategic guidance on infrastructure, transport and regional development issues to the Australian Government
- manages ministerial support matters
- oversees corporate policy matters
- is responsible for high level policy
- oversees departmental resourcing, including divisional budget allocation
- is responsible for operational matters
- notes and endorses governance committee updates and decisions
- is responsible for departmental inclusion and diversity policy (departmental champions)
Executive communications forums
Executive Management Meeting
The Executive Management Meeting is a continuation of the previous executive management team and provides executive directors with the opportunity to workshop cross-cutting strategic policy and organisational issues, as well as keeping the secretary appraised of key issues.
Specific organisational management committees
The Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the secretary and executive on the appropriateness of our financial reporting, performance reporting, system of risk oversight and management, and system of internal control.
In accordance with its charter, the Audit Committee:
- monitors and provides advice on our risk management framework
- reviews the appropriateness of our systems and procedures for assessing and reporting performance
- considers and endorses the internal audit work program and monitors its implementation
- assesses whether management has taken steps to embed a culture that promotes the proper use and management of public resources, and is committed to ethical and lawful conduct
- provides a forum for ourselves and the Australian National Audit Office to exchange views on external audit findings and associated recommendations
- oversees preparation of our financial statements in conjunction with the Financial Statements sub-committee
The Audit Committee meets at least four times a year in accordance with the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. Membership consists of two department officials and three independent members. Mr Geoff Knuckey is the Audit Committee's independent chair.
Departmental Consultative Committee
The Departmental Consultative Committee operates on matters relating to our Enterprise Agreement, general employment matters and for employee representatives to raise workplace issues. It is consulted on matters including:
- operation and implementation of the agreement
- impact of any legislative change affecting employment conditions
- machinery of government changes
The committee meets quarterly and comprises the chief operating officer (chair), employee-elected representatives for each division, and two SES officers. The committee chair also determines whether other matters related to the workplace, such as accommodation, are discussed.
Work Health and Safety Committee
The Work Health and Safety Committee considers work health and safety (WHS) strategy, policy and performance matters to improve our health and safety environment.
The committee meets quarterly and comprises a general manager, management representatives and employee representatives.
Up until April 2018, the Finance, Reporting and Program Committee, and Strategic Information Technology and Security Committee focused on specific areas of organisational management and decision-making.
In April 2018, three committees were formed, each chaired by a deputy secretary and responsible to the Executive Board:
- People Committee
- Finance and Operations Committee
- Performance and Reporting Committee
The People Committee meets each month. It is responsible for people planning and strategy. Matters for consultation and decision may include:
- monthly human resources and workforce reports
- performance management policy
- people planning and strategy
- learning and development
- recruitment and retention strategies
- developing departmental policies
- managing and developing the Graduate Program
- the department's enterprise agreement
- reports from the Workplace Health and Safety Committee
- reports from the Departmental Consultative Committee
- managing SES forums
- inclusion and diversity policy
Finance and Operations Committee
The Finance and Operations Committee was established in April 2018 and meets each month. It is responsible for financial management, IT, accommodation, security and program management. The committee:
- recommends information technology, information governance and security funding priorities to Executive Board
- oversees the department's budget process
- considers the department's monthly financial reports
- recommends budget priorities to the executive board
- oversees strategic management and delivery of the department's administered programs
- considers and recommends capital investment proposals
- oversees the department's property strategy
- provides a forum for finance, reporting and program management matters
- provides a forum for consideration of departmental implications for whole-of-government initiatives
Performance and Reporting Committee
The Performance and Reporting Committee was established in April 2018 and meets each month. It is responsible for business and corporate planning, including the performance framework. The committee:
- oversees the department's data requirements and determines data collection priorities
- manages the department's information storage policy in accordance with risk, including risks associated with security, access, privacy, continuity and cost
- recommends appropriate information and protective security policies to the Executive Board
- oversees internal information reviews to identify information assets and their value
- manages risk and compliance and improves business processes
- oversees the department's corporate plan and annual report
- is responsible for risk management processes, including making decisions informed by portfolio risk assessments
- is responsible for the evaluation framework
- considers and notes updates on internal audits from the secretariat of the Audit Committee
- drives the departmental innovation agenda
Planning and reporting framework
The corporate plan is the department's primary planning document and is updated each year. The 2017–18 Corporate Plan was published in August 2017, covering the four years from 2017–18 to 2020–21. The plan includes information about our purposes, operational environment, strategy, key priorities and performance targets, as well the approach to departmental capability building and risk management. The 2017–18 Portfolio Budget Statements, published in May 2017, included financial information and details about our outcomes, programs, administered items and performance targets for 2017–18.
Both the corporate plan and the portfolio budget statements inform the strategic annual business plans for each division. Twice a year, meetings are held between divisional senior executive service staff and the executive to discuss progress against divisional business plans. This informs the executive of achievements and any emerging areas of concern in delivering agreed activities and outcomes.
Results against the performance measures as outlined in the 2017–18 Corporate Plan and Portfolio Budget Statements are included in the Annual Performance Statement's part of this report.
The department takes a proactive approach to managing risk at the agency, division and program levels, and encourages staff to make risk based decisions. Enterprise and high-level program risks are revised quarterly with ongoing monitoring and oversight by the Executive and Audit Committee. Divisions and the Executive engaged in regular discussions on division level risks that were identified and reviewed with business plans.
The department continued implementing its Fraud Control Plan 2016–18 during the year, which outlines strategies to prevent, detect and investigate potential fraud.
We managed issues of potential fraud under section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 and reported these quarterly to the Audit Committee.
Business continuity management
Business continuity management is an important part of the department's overall approach to effective risk management. Our business continuity response aims to:
- ensure the uninterrupted availability of key resources necessary to support critical business functions, so these can be delivered before, during and after the event
- provide a coordinated response to minimise disruption to the department
- ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff
The department reviewed internal and external risk factors during 2017–18 and strengthened processes and controls to meet the Australian Government's protective security requirements. We are evolving our security practice to a more risk based approach consistent with upcoming changes to the Protective Security Policy Framework. The department will continue these reforms in 2018–19 is introduced.
In 2017–18 the department developed the annual internal audit work program through a risk-based approach. This was endorsed by the Audit Committee and approved by the secretary. The Audit Committee monitored progress of the work program and completed internal audits.
The Audit Committee received regular reports on the agency and high level program risks to provide insight into the department's key risks and to ensure alignment with the internal audit work program.
The department's Monitoring and Evaluation Capability Strategy 2017–2020 aligns with the PGPA Act. It measures and assesses the department's performance and progress in achieving its purposes. It also sets out the skills and knowledge that underpin the department's overall operational capability, as outlined in the corporate plan. The monitoring and evaluation resource booklet provides an overview of key monitoring and evaluation concepts and is a guide for staff on practical application.
The department developed an evaluation work program for 2017–18. Mentoring was provided to help employees evaluate activities.
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.
In 2017–18 the department undertook a range of activities as part of its Ethics in the Workplace communication strategy. This emphasises our commitment to a high standard of ethical behaviour. The activities aimed to:
- raise awareness and understanding about what ethical behaviour means
- improve staff's understanding of their responsibilities
- increase participation in the department's internally developed Fraud and Ethical Awareness online training module
- increase awareness of the information and resources available to employees
In March 2018 we conducted our annual employee declaration of personal interests for SES employees. In addition a number of identified Executive Level staff were required to complete the declarations due to the nature and sensitivity of their work. Throughout the year, staff were regularly reminded to consider their personal arrangements and complete a declaration if necessary. The department's key management personnel also submitted their related parties' disclosure as required by the Australian Accounting Standard AASB 124—Related Party Disclosures.
Information Publication Scheme
Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 must publish information as part of the Information Publication Scheme. This requirement in Part II of the Act has replaced the former section 8 requirement to publish a statement in an annual report. Our department's plan shows the information that is published in accordance with the requirements at infrastructure.gov.au/department/ips/index.aspx.
Legal services expenditure
Paragraph 11.1(ba) of the Legal Services Directions 2017 requires the department to appropriately record and monitor our legal services purchasing, including expenditure. It also requires that each year we make our records of legal services expenditure for the previous financial year publicly available by 30 October.
For 2017–18, our legal expenditure was:
- $7,627,148.09 for total external legal services expenditure
- $1,372,295.00 for total internal legal services expenditure
Decisions of courts and tribunals
The department was involved in some matters before Australian courts and tribunals during the year. These related to issues such as motor vehicle imports and a dispute with an airport company regarding payments under its lease with the Commonwealth. Some matters were ongoing at 30 June 2018.
Decisions by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner reviewed nine of our freedom of information decisions. Two reviews were finalised and one was closed. Six reviews remain on hand.
Australian National Audit Office and parliamentary scrutiny
The Australian National Audit Office, parliamentary committees and other public bodies release reports on matters relating to the department's work.
The department formally responded to the Australian National Audit Office's reports in writing, and these responses are included in the Auditor-General's reports, 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 Parliament.
|Australian National Audit Office|
|Performance audit across entities||Management of the Preconstruction Phase of the Inland Rail Programme||27 September 2017|
|Performance audit across entities||Delivery of the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal||19 December 2017|
|Performance audit across entities||Design and Governance of the National Water Infrastructure Fund||28 February 2018|
|Performance audit across entities||Effectiveness of monitoring and payment arrangements under National Partnership Agreements||24 May 2018|
|Performance audit across entities||Senate Order for Departmental and Entity Contracts (Financial Year 2016–17 Compliance)||25 June 2018|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee||Increasing use of so-called Flag of Convenience shipping in Australia||19 July 2017|
|Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources||Social issues relating to land-based automated vehicles in Australia||11 September 2017|
|Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories||The strategic importance of Australia's Indian Ocean Territories||11 September 2017|
|Economics References Committee||Toll roads: issues of building, financing and charging||14 September 2017|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee||Australia's rail industry||18 October 2017|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee||Aspects of road safety in Australia||26 October 2017|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee||Coastal Trading (Revitalising Australian Shipping) Amendment Bill 2017 [Provisions]||4 December 2017|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee||Airports Amendment Bill 2016 [Provisions]||19 March 2018|
|Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee||Road Vehicle Standards Bill 2018 and related bills||7 May 2018|
As well as attending specific parliamentary inquiries, the department's SES employees attend Senate Estimates Committee hearings to respond to questions on our activities.
The department received 371 parliamentary questions on notice
|Source of questions||Department||Agencies|
|House of Representatives||17||0|
|Senate Estimates Committee hearings||342||151|
Management of human resources
Throughout 2017–18 there was a continued focus on the right people, in the right roles at the right time. The department leveraged the Workforce Strategy 2016–2019 to build and sustain a highly capable and engaged workforce.
The People and Performance Branch is responsible for managing human resources. Its primary objective is to enable the organisation to deliver on its purpose through modern and innovative people strategies. It plays a key role in building and sustaining a workplace culture of inclusivity, integrity and professionalism, which reflects a modern and responsive public service.
Through its professional teams the branch focuses on meeting the department's needs and expectations, including through a broad range of innovative human resource services and practices to ensure staff are equipped to meet immediate and emerging challenges.
- The department achieved an 89% response rate for the 2018 APS Employee Census, the highest departmental participation rate recorded since the Census commenced in 2012, and 11% higher than the previous year. Staff responded well to the department's new Census branding campaign, which encouraged them to respond and help build a ‘Census City'. Labour hire contractors were also invited to provide feedback through the Census for the first time
- In 2017–18 a new dynamic workforce analytics dashboard was implemented. This enables SES and business management units to access key metrics to improve workforce planning functionality
- A review was conducted of current workforce planning processes, which identified a number of actions to improve the department's strategic use of workforce planning data
- The People Committee established new governance arrangements, which allow senior management to oversee, discuss and provide input into people strategies and initiatives
- The department's Workforce Capability Framework was fully integrated with recruitment and selection processes
Inclusion and diversity
The department continued work towards its goal of building and sustaining a culture of inclusion and diversity. An inclusion events series was established to:
- acknowledge milestones of inclusion and diversity significance
- encourage staff to share their stories
- celebrate the diversity people bring to the workplace
The Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group advanced its goals and finalised two key actions under the department's Reconciliation Action Plan 2016–2018:
- developing the department's first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy
- producing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultation and engagement toolkit
Implementation continued on the Gender Equality Action Plan with a focus on supporting women:
- to develop their leadership confidence and capability
- returning to the workplace after maternity and carers leave
The department acknowledged and celebrated dates of significance in relation to workforce diversity including:
- the anniversary of the Apology
- International Women's Day
- Harmony Day
- Trans Day of Visibility
- International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia
- National Sorry Day
- National Reconciliation Week
- National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week
- Wear it Purple Day
- Transgender Day of Remembrance
- International Day of People with Disability
The department also maintained memberships of key diversity organisations including the Australian Network on Disability, the Diversity Council of Australia, and Pride in Diversity.
Recruitment and talent management programs
Welcomed 22 new participants as part of the Graduate Development Program
The department has a contemporary approach to attracting, recruiting and retaining staff, and is working to become an employer of choice within the public sector. Our approach to advertising positions was refreshed during the year to focus on what our people do and the capabilities needed for success.
The department welcomed 22 new employees as part of the Graduate Development Program. Graduates are exposed to a broad range of opportunities through three diverse rotations. They also have an opportunity to help manage the department's social club, and join an SES-sponsored industry tour.
Graduates can access a range of formal learning and development opportunities, including a choice of a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy, support to undertake a Master's degree, or help to complete a Graduate Diploma of Legal practice.
We welcomed University Vacation Employment Program participants and Stepping Into program participants to give graduates and people with disability a taste of life in the department.
The department broadened opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment by:
- piloting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mobility Placement within the Western Sydney Unit
- developing a department specific Affirmative Measures Program in partnership with the Regional Programs Branch to offer employment opportunities in our regional office
- registering to participate in new, whole-of-government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment opportunities to attract and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is a shift from our previous entry level opportunities
- participating in the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program
- participating in the Australian Public Service Commission Pathways Graduate Program
The department revised and developed new employment procedures during the year to support its Enterprise Agreement 2016. Extensive consultation was undertaken to develop the procedures, which provide greater clarity and include case studies to help apply employment conditions in the workplace.
The department successfully negotiated and implemented a new enterprise agreement for the Indian Ocean Territories Administration. It was approved through an all-staff ballot in February 2018 and came into effect on 25 June 2017. The new agreement nominally expires on 25 June 2021.
Creating and maintaining a workplace where everyone is treated with respect and courtesy is a key priority. During the year we reviewed and updated our bullying and harassment guidelines with consultation and input from staff. Our new Workplace Respect and Courtesy Guidelines were implemented in December.
Learning and development
The department continued developing a high performing workplace and organisational culture during the year by providing opportunities for staff to build their skills and competencies in-line with the department's Workforce Capability Framework.
This resulted in relevant, practical and contemporary learning which is developing staff with the right skills and knowledge to perform their duties now, and prepare for the future.
In 2017–18 staff engaged in a total of 2,215 learning opportunities. A total of 34% of these occurred through formal classroom training, 62% via online learning and 4% through other learning events including conferences and public sector related events. The focus was on developing core capabilities to help staff be:
- accountable (75%)
- outcomes driven (16%)
- future focused (4%)
Key highlights included new initiatives to:
- build data skills and literacy across all APS levels
- extend writing and communication skills through programs specifically customised to the department's diverse range of stakeholders
- build and foster managerial and leadership skills through the department's Emerging Managers Program for APS 5 and 6 officers, and the Executive Level Mastery Program for EL1 officers
Developing professional policy skills was a key priority, and was achieved through a new policy learning suite tailored to the department's specialist policy capability requirements.
During the year 86 new staff participated in the department's induction program. About a third of these also took the opportunity to meet with and hear from the secretary as part of the program's formal classroom component.
A number of staff accessed the department's Study Assistance Scheme during the year, and 82 engaged in higher education to build their professional development. Forty-two staff accessed the department's professional coaching scheme to plan their career and professional development.
A new adaptive learning platform, Percipio by Skillsoft, was procured during the year to provide staff with a greater range of real-time development options through a variety of delivery mechanisms.
Remuneration for SES staff is provided for under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999, while remuneration for non-SES staff is subject to the provisions of the department's enterprise agreement. The enterprise agreement provided a one per cent increase to base salary and allowances for all non-SES employees on 28 March 2018. SES employees also received an equivalent increase to base salary on the same date.
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, access to flexible working arrangements and a range of paid leave entitlements.
The department made no performance payments to employees, including SES 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. Since 2010–11, departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.
The National Disability Strategy has now been replaced 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 bi-annual report will track progress against each of the six strategy outcome areas and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014. Reports are available at www.dss.gov.au.
Human resources statistics
|APS 1–4 and equivalent||APS|
5–6 and equivalent
|EL1 and equivalent||EL2 and equivalent||SES/|
Secretary and equivalent
|Employees and public office holders|
|Indian Ocean Territories||-||1||-||-||-||1||1||-||-||-||-||1||2|
|Pacific Ocean Territories||-||-||1||1||2||1||1||-||-||-||-||-||4||2|
Note: Excludes inoperative employees on long term leave. Indian Ocean Territories reporting is departmental only and excludes employees under the employment authorities of Indian Ocean Territories Administration
|Holder of public office||1||2||2||1||3||3|
|Ongoing full-time||464 (9)||374 (5)||512 (12)||375 (9)||976 (21)||749 (14)|
|Total||575 (9)||471 (5)||543 (12)||404 (9)||1,118 (21)||875 (14)|
Note: Employees who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander are shown in brackets. Excludes inoperative employees on long term leave and employees under the employment authorities of Indian Ocean Territories Administration
|30 June 2017 ($)||30 June 2018 ($)|
|Secretary||The secretary's remuneration is determined by the Prime Minister after taking into account the recommendations of the Remuneration Tribunal.|
- Individual flexibility arrangements, salary maintenance and annualised shift allowance have been reflected in the maximum salary figures above for these classifications
|Section 24(1) determination under |
the Public Service Act 1999
|Enterprise Agreement||Total Employees|
|Non-SES||-||826 (50)||826 (50)|
Note: Employees with Individual Flexibility Arrangements are shown in brackets. Excludes inoperative employees and Holders of Public Office
|Graduates recruited externally||23 (1)|
|Other external recruits||129|
|Total external recruits||152|
|Note: Employees who commenced in the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program are shown in brackets.|
|Retention rate (%)||87.3%|
|Transfers/promotions to another Australian Public Service entity||67|
|Resignations and retirements||61|
Note: Non-ongoing employees are excluded from recruitment numbers and retention and separation data
|People from non-English speaking backgrounds||123|
|People with disability||33|
|Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples||16|
Notes: Includes ongoing and non-ongoing employees and inoperative employees on long term leave; 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 diversity information to the department
|Employment Group||30 June 2017||30 June 2018|
Note: includes employees engaged under the employment authorities of Indian Ocean Territories Administration
The department manages $37.9 million of non-financial assets, comprising leasehold improvements ($17.4 million), computers, furniture and other equipment ($7.8 million) and in-house developed and purchased software ($9.0 million).The remaining non-financial assets relate to prepayments and leases. During the year the department upgraded leasehold improvements in its Canberra premises in conjunction with base building works by the building owner and refreshed its desktop computers and laptops, along with enhancements to internally developed software.
Assets with a carrying value of $6.0 million that supported the Office of Transport Security were transferred to the Department of Home Affairs as a result of the machinery of government changes.
The department is responsible for administering $0.7 billion in non-financial assets on behalf of the Australian Government (recognised in the Administered Schedule of Assets and Liabilities).These assets are mainly used to provide infrastructure and services to the external territories and the Jervis Bay Territory. The assets classes comprise land and buildings ($205.4 million), infrastructure, plant and equipment ($334.7 million), assets of heritage and cultural significance ($115.0 million) and intangible assets ($3.8 million).
Major asset transactions during 2017–18 included:
- write-down of land at Badgerys Creek NSW which was leased to WSA Co for no consideration
- acquisition of land from the operators of Melbourne Airport for no consideration and subsequent incorporation into the Melbourne Airport lease
- upgrades to the Cascade Pier, Hospital and School on Norfolk Island
- purchases and upgrades of assets in the Indian Ocean Territories and Jervis Bay Territory
We ensure effective management of these assets by:
- establishing annual capital budgets that require proposals for the acquisition or construction of assets to be approved by the Executive
- considering IT related projects through the department's Finance and Operations Committee
- applying Accountable Authority Instructions on asset management issued by the secretary
- maintaining departmental and administered asset registers supported by annual stocktake and impairment reviews to verify their accuracy
- engaging external expertise to help manage and maintain infrastructure assets used to provide services to external territories and the Jervis Bay Territory
- implementing heritage and conservation plans and arrangements to manage assets of heritage and cultural significance