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Departmental management and accountability

A botanist inspects growing plants.

Corporate governance

The department’s corporate governance practices define how the department delivers its outcome and programme responsibilities and controls its business, both internally and externally.

During 2015–16, the department’s governance structure comprised one board and four committees:

  • Executive Board
  • Assurance and Audit Committee
  • ICT and Data Strategy Committee
  • Programme Assurance Committee
  • Security Committee.

The department’s governance practices comply with all statutory requirements and are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

The department’s planning and risk management processes are closely integrated. Business and risk management plans for divisions are prepared annually and detail how the priorities set out in the department’s strategic plan will be achieved and how any major risks will be managed.

The department used a quarterly traffic light reporting system to keep the Executive informed of the status of key deliverables and organisational health metrics.

Fraud control

The department’s fraud control framework is consistent with best practice standards and provides assurance that fraud control strategies are robust. Its approach includes ongoing fraud awareness training for all staff. As required by the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework, the department has a fraud control plan that details strategies for the prevention, detection and investigation of alleged fraud affecting the department, as well as reporting procedures.

Officers responsible for fraud control and investigations hold the qualifications detailed in the Australian Government Investigations Standards and the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework.

Significant issues reported to ministers

No significant issues of non-compliance were reported to responsible Minister as part of the department’s internal compliance reporting process for 2015–16.

External scrutiny

During 2015–16, the department appeared at several parliamentary committee hearings, including supplementary budget estimates hearings on 22 October 2015, additional estimates hearings on 10 and 11 February 2016, and budget estimates hearings on 6 May 2016.

During 2015–16, the department was directly involved in three audits by the Australian National Audit Office that resulted in the following reports being tabled:

  • Implementing the deregulation agenda: cutting red tape
  • Delivery and evaluation of grant programmes
  • Cyber resilience.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman provided the department with a report in August 2015 on the department’s handling of a fraud allegation. The Ombudsman made a number of findings including that the department acted in accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines and its internal Fraud Control Plan. The Ombudsman also made a recommendation about the department’s communication with complainants. The department accepted all of the Ombudsman’s findings and recommendations. The Ombudsman did not make the report publicly available due to the nature of the matter.

Management of human resources

The department’s People Plan 2016–2020: Building a high performance organisation incorporates strategies to manage resources and build capability. To further assist the Senior Executive Service to better lead and manage staff resources, a workforce plan on a page was developed that incorporates optimal management structures, capability needs now and into the future, and strategies to address any identified issues. The plan will be incorporated into the broader business and risk planning cycles and will inform the development of a department-wide workforce plan.

The department delivered a range of capability development programmes in 2015–16, with a focus on written communication and economic capability. In 2016, the department introduced a selection of two-hour master classes for all staff on a range of management and career development topics and a series of workshops on current leadership topics for Executive Level staff.

The department continued to deliver a range of management and leadership programmes, including the Management Action Programme. With a focus on building capability at the Australian Public Service (APS) 6 level, the department held its inaugural APS 6 conference and piloted an APS 6 development programme for high-potential APS 6s. The department also offered a range of opportunities for high-potential staff, including the Career Development Programme, the Scholarship Award Programme and an Economics Scholarship.

The department continued its two-year Graduate Development Programme. The programme is underpinned by formal and on-the-job learning and incorporates a graduate certificate in either economics or management in the second year. It is designed to give graduates the skills and capabilities required to meet the challenges of working in the Australian Public Service.

In October 2015, 48 staff were transferred to the Department of the Environment; 20 staff were transferred in from the Department of Communications and the Arts; and eight staff were transferred in from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development as a result of the Administrative Arrangements Order of 21 September 2015.

The One Innovation Enterprise Agreement 2011 nominally expired on 30 June 2014. A new Industry, Innovation and Science Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019 was negotiated and came into effect on 6 April 2016.

The department’s workforce statistics tables are in Appendix A3.

Work health and safety

The department focused on maintaining its safe systems of work and improving its compensation and rehabilitation performance during 2015–16. The improved performance resulted in a substantial reduction in annual workers’ compensation premiums and produced mutually beneficial rehabilitation outcomes for affected workers and the department.

Six incidents during the year were deemed notifiable under section 38 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and reported to Comcare.

No investigations were conducted and no notices were issued under Part 10 of the Work Health and Safety Act.

Purchasing

During 2015–16, the department undertook its procurement in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and the requirements of its Accountable Authority Instructions.

In accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the department published its annual procurement plan on AusTender to give prospective suppliers the opportunity to prepare for potential work with the department.

The department supports small business participation in the Australian Government procurement market. Participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance website (http://www.finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts).

In accordance with paragraph 5.4 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the department has procurement practices and internal policies in place to ensure small and medium enterprises are not unfairly discriminated against. These measures include, but are not limited to:

  • the mandatory use of the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for all low risk procurements up to $200 000 (GST inclusive)
  • formal procurement training, including a session on contracting with small and medium enterprises
  • a dedicated online Procurement Toolkit facilitating instant advice for procuring officers.

The department recognises the importance of ensuring that small business are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website (www.treasury.gov.au).

The department fully supports the Indigenous Procurement Policy and has met its purchasing target set down by the Government to ensure indigenous employment and business opportunities continue to grow.

Consultants

During 2015–16, 232 new consultancy contracts were entered into, involving total actual expenses of $10 473 572 (GST inclusive). In addition, 67 ongoing consultancies were active during the year, involving total actual expenses in 2015–16 of $3 144 270 (GST inclusive). Consultancy expenses have been derived on an accrual basis and include contracts valued at less than $10 000.

The department engages individuals and companies to provide professional services under contracts for service, taking into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of these options. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem, carry out defined reviews or evaluations, or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the department’s decision-making. Examples include the provision of complex legal advice, the engagement of technical experts to assist with awarding technical research grants, and independent evaluations to determine the effectiveness of the department’s programmes. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and relevant policies, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and the department’s Accountable Authority Instructions.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website (http://www.tenders.gov.au).

Grant programmes

Information on grants made by the department during 2015–16 is available on the department’s website (www.industry.gov.au/AboutUs/LegalandLegislativeReporting/Grants).

Disability reporting mechanisms

The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 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 two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. These reports are available on the Department of Social Services website (www.dss.gov.au).

During 2015–16 the department contributed to the development of a National Disability Strategy Australian Government Action Plan, which seeks to identify department-specific actions that improve outcomes for people with disability.

Information Publication Scheme

Under Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the department is required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme. A plan showing the information the department publishes in accordance with the scheme is available on the department’s website (www.industry.gov.au/AboutUs/InformationPublicationScheme).

Advertising and market research

During 2015–16, the department conducted the following advertising campaigns:

  • Country of origin labelling for food
  • National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Further information on the department’s advertising campaigns is available on the department’s website (www.industry.gov.au/AboutUs/CorporatePublications/Certifications) and in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance. Those reports are available on the Department of Finance’s website (www.finance.gov.au).

The department’s payments for advertising and market research services are shown in
Appendix A4.

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

In accordance with section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, a report on how the department’s activities accord with and contribute to the principles of ecologically sustainable development is available on the department’s website (www.industry.gov.au/AboutUs/LegalandLegislativeReporting).