The department’s governance framework (Figure 3) forms the structure for providing leadership; overseeing decision making, accountability and management; and ensuring effective policy development and efficient service delivery. The components of the governance framework were established within the first six weeks of the creation of the department.
Figure 3 Governance framework
- Audit Committee
- Finance Committee
- Implementation Committee
- Information Technology Committee
- People and Capability Committee
- Rap Working Group
- Indigenous staff network committee
- Executive meeting
- Employment Cluster – steering committee
- Workplace Relations and Economic Strategy Cluster – steering committee
- State Network National Leadership Team
- Senior management meeting
The Executive Meeting supports the Secretary in making key decisions for the department and consists of the Secretary, deputy secretaries and corporate area group managers. Meetings are held weekly and focus on the delivery of outcomes, collective decision making and operational matters.
The Executive Meeting facilitates work across the department to deliver on the government’s priorities, and promotes the fundamentals of governance: leadership, systems and processes that are fit for purpose, performance orientation, transparency and effective collaboration.
The department’s governance committees support the department to meet its legislative obligations and achieve its strategic priorities.
The department’s Audit Committee for 2013–14 was constituted in accordance with section 46 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) and regulation 22C of the FMA Regulations. The committee:
- assists the department to comply with its obligations under the FMA Act, the FMA Regulations and the Finance Minister’s Orders
- provides a forum for communication between the Secretary, senior managers and the internal and external auditors of the department.
The committee is chaired by a deputy secretary and membership is drawn from senior executives across the department. It also has one independent external member. The committee holds quarterly ordinary meetings and convenes for an additional special meeting to sign the financial statements. The committee met three times during 2013–14, noting that the department was created on 18 September 2013.
The Finance Committee considers and oversees the appropriation, expenditure and use of money and resources to ensure the department is able to meet its business goals. The committee advises on:
- strategic decisions on financial management matters and policies, including the allocation of departmental budgets
- the department’s compliance with the Commonwealth financial framework; in 2013–14 this included consideration of the impact of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, which commences on 1 July 2014
- communication and training to ensure transparency and accountability and increase knowledge across the department
- financial policies and guidelines, including their compliance with relevant legislation
- the financial performance of the department.
The committee operates separately from and alongside the Financial Statements Steering Committee, which provides overarching governance of the financial statements process.
The committee’s members are the Group Manager, Finance and Business Services (chair), the Chief Finance Officer and senior executives from across the department. Between its establishment in November 2013 and the end of the financial year, the committee held four meetings.
The Implementation Committee considers, supports and provides strategic oversight on the department’s implementation of government initiatives. The committee:
- provides strategic direction on the implementation of monitored initiatives
- reports to the Secretary and deputy secretaries on emerging issues and pressures
- confirms governance arrangements, including the existence of appropriate arrangements for local governance
- confirms that risk and implementation plans are drafted and reviewed
- considers cross-departmental issues such as staffing, systems support, finances, devolution, accommodation, evaluation and procurement
- ensures reporting obligations to the portfolio ministers, the Cabinet Implementation Unit and gateway reviews are met
- monitors deregulation targets
- analyses information from implementation reporting to identify lessons learned and disseminates that information throughout the department
- oversees the development of tools to assist with effective implementation of key initiatives
- maximises delivery outcomes
- exercises due diligence to ensure the department complies with relevant workplace frameworks and obligations.
The committee’s members are the Deputy Secretary, Workplace Relations and Economic Strategy (chair) and five representatives from relevant areas of the department. The Chief Internal Auditor attends as an observer. Under its terms of reference, the committee meets at least 10 times per year. Between its establishment in November 2013 and the end of the financial year, the committee held six meetings.
Information Technology Committee
The Information Technology Committee considers and oversees the management of information technology tools and policies and knowledge management to ensure the department is able to meet its business goals. The committee:
- ensures the strategic use of information technology to enable the department to meet its programme and corporate objectives
- plans and directs a programme of work to achieve stated IT objectives
- develops policies and guidelines that direct the proper and effective use of information technology including compliance with relevant legislation
- ensures that investment decisions make the best use of available IT funding
- implements effective IT portfolio and project management practices
- identifies risks that threaten the achievement of IT performance goals and ensures that risk treatments are adequate
- ensures that services delivered and procured meet standards prescribed in service-level agreements including with external agencies and vendors
- considers and responds to audit findings that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of IT performance plans and implements activities that provide the necessary IT workforce capabilities and capacity
- ensures adequate provisions are made to support business continuity in the event of disaster
- ensures that the department actively contributes to the achievement of whole-of-government IT-enabled initiatives, and monitors the performance and benefits of IT against a comprehensive IT performance framework.
- The committee comprises six group managers from relevant areas of the department and an external member, currently a deputy commissioner from the Australian Taxation Office. The committee meets at least four times a year. It held six meetings between its establishment in December 2013 and the end of the financial year.
People and Capability Committee
The People and Capability Committee considers and oversees the management of people and organisational strategies to ensure the department is able to meet its business goals. The committee advises on:
- strategic decisions on people management issues, policies and initiatives
- the development of a people and capability strategic plan
- progress of the department’s enterprise agreement
- continuation and innovation of people capability and development
- people policies and guidelines, including their compliance with relevant legislation.
The committee also considers whether mechanisms are in place to ensure the department complies with relevant work health and safety duties and obligations.
The committee is chaired by a deputy secretary and membership includes a representative from each cluster, employees with relevant specialist knowledge and the department’s Indigenous Leader. The committee meets at least four times a year or as needed; six meetings were held in 2013–14.
The department’s strategic plan describes how we will deliver on the government’s priorities, work together and build the culture of the department. The plan provides direction to achieve our vision—More Jobs. Great Workplaces.
The plan was developed in consultation with employees through a series of focus groups in the national and state offices. It was launched on 30 April 2014.
- Strategic Plan–More Jobs. Great Workplaces.
- Forward looking
The plan centres on four themes—we are a department that:
- delivers on the government’s agenda and its priorities
- is forward looking and strives to be innovative in everything we do
- collaborates meaningfully across the public service
- has people at the core of our business.
The vision that underlies the plan reflects the government’s priorities to create jobs, help job seekers into work and foster great workplaces to build Australia’s participation and productivity.
Through the plan we demonstrate our commitment to achieving reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community.
The strategic plan is put into action through the annual business planning process, with business plan templates streamlined to focus on the deliverables and four themes outlined in the plan: delivery, collaboration, forward looking and people. The plan is available on the department’s website.
Business plans are developed by each area of the department at the cluster, group, branch and state levels. Development of plans is the opportunity to consider what we do, how we do it and how we measure our successes. The plans outline the deliverables for the year ahead and how they will be measured and provide a link between the department’s goals and the work of employees in individual performance agreements.
The business planning process is integrated with other corporate activities such as:
- conducting assessments of strategic risks, including fraud
- developing business continuity plans for mission-critical activities
- identifying activities that further our commitment to reconciliation.
The business planning process is also an opportunity to consider other corporate activities to help achieve our goals, such as business improvement, communication, information technology, research and evaluation, and workforce planning.
The plans can be reviewed and updated as needed to reflect any changes in priorities and are reviewed biannually to track progress.
The department’s priority for risk management is to mitigate the effect of uncertainty on departmental and government objectives.
The department manages risk through its risk management framework, which is underpinned by the risk management policy and Secretary’s Instruction 1.1. Since the creation of the department, the framework has supported the enterprise-wide management of risk and ensured that risk management processes are integrated across all levels of the department. Results from a May 2014 employee survey indicate a strong level of engagement with and awareness of risk management.
The department participated in the 2014 Comcover benchmarking survey and scored 8.1 out of 10, which resulted in an 8.33 per cent discount on the department’s insurance premiums for 2014–15. The results also identified several areas in which improvements had been made since the last survey in 2012. Areas below current self-selected targets were also identified, and the department will continue to work on those areas during 2014–15.
The department integrates risk management into its business planning process to ensure that risks to the department’s delivery of its objectives are identified and actively managed and monitored.
Throughout the year, risk management plans were also developed for all major projects and programmes, with individual risks given risk ratings.
During 2013–14 the department established the Implementation Committee. The committee focused on broadening its involvement with risk, seeking to improve how the department’s risk management framework is applied in practice and the underlying risk culture. The committee reviewed the department’s risk management framework, including areas of high risk, and discussed the implications of identified risks to programme deliverables.
Provider risk—the risk posed to the department by contractors that provide employment services—is managed through a specialised provider risk framework and risk management system. The ongoing management and operational aspects of provider risk are undertaken by the department’s state network. The national office coordinates and reports on these activities and provides expertise in both risk management and programme assurance, supported by a number of specialist employees trained in the use of data mining and analysis and statistical techniques.
In 2013–14 the department created a specialist change management group to oversee organisational change management across the department and ensure business goals were met. The group is formalising a change management framework based on its common practices, which is expected to be released during 2014–15.
The framework will outline practical approaches to planning, managing and supporting change. It will also identify actions that leaders can take to implement change as efficiently and effectively as possible. The framework will advise employees of what to expect from their managers during times of change and assist employees to manage change effectively at all levels of the department.
The Business Improvement team works closely with policy, programme and corporate support areas across the department to improve work practices, processes and systems to better position the department to achieve its strategic priorities.
The team offers a range of services such as workshop facilitation, process exploration and rolling reviews to help teams develop more efficient and effective ways to reach their performance targets.
In 2013–14 these services were particularly important as the newly formed department settled into new ways of doing business both externally and internally, including the establishment and implementation of the Shared Services Centre.
The department’s client service charter is a statement of what we do and the standards of service our stakeholders can expect.
The charter outlines how our stakeholders can help us improve our processes, how to provide feedback and the rights of our clients to have decisions reviewed or to lodge complaints. The charter also reinforces the department’s commitment to the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct, the Privacy Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
We use the charter as a guide to measure and monitor our performance, and review and update the content on an annual basis. Links to the service charter are featured on the department’s intranet and internet sites.
Internal audit is an important component of the department’s control framework. It provides independent assurance to the Executive and the Audit Committee that resources are being used efficiently, effectively and ethically to:
- promote strong performance management and accountability in departmental programmes, systems and practices
- promote better practice within the department
- improve controls and governance within a risk management environment.
Internal auditors monitor the implementation of both internal and external audit recommendations and report progress to the Audit Committee.
Fraud control and investigations
As required by the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2011 and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the department has a fraud control plan, supported by guidelines and policies that underpin fraud control in the department. These documents establish the framework for managing fraud risks, including prevention and detection and conducting investigations. Implementation of fraud control mechanisms is managed by the Investigations Branch. The branch has promoted fraud awareness and managed fraud risks for the department by:
- providing face-to-face fraud awareness training to employees
- providing an interactive online fraud awareness training package for employees
- maintaining a suite of fraud control guidance documents for all employees z requiring staff to consider fraud risks as an integral part of risk management z developing a new fraud control plan
- providing advice to programme and policy areas on fraud risk analysis and management
- investigating instances of possible fraud in accordance with the Australian Government Investigations Standards and the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.
The Investigations Branch provides a fraud investigation service, from initial assessment of allegations through to criminal prosecution where warranted. All fraud investigations are conducted by formally qualified investigators to the criminal standard (beyond reasonable doubt) in accordance with the requirements of all relevant legislation and Commonwealth standards, guidelines and policies.