Governance

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In 2014–15 we continued to improve our governance framework to enhance our organisational capability and enable efficient and effective service delivery and policy design. The Department of Employment Strategic Plan 2014–2017 continued to provide a strong foundation for building the culture and leadership of the department. These tools and structures set the direction to achieve our vision—More Jobs. Great Workplaces.

The department's governanc framework consists of structures and procedures that help our people to implement and understand the governance fundamentals—performance, transparency and integrity, and collaboration.

Executive meeting

The Executive meeting supports the Secretary with making key decisions for the department, focusing on the delivery of outcomes, collective decision making and operational matters. Committee membership consists of the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries, the Group Manager Finance, Legal and Governance, and the Group Manager People and Communication.

Executive meetings are every Monday and are followed by the release of an employee communique that summarises discussions and outcomes.

Committees

Our committees are established to provide leadership, oversee decision making, accountability and management, and ensure effective and consultative policy development and efficient service delivery. They report to and are overseen by the Executive Meeting and work closely with sub-committees and inter-departmental committees.

Figure 5      Governance committee structure

Governance committee structure. See below for details.

Governance Committee Structure

The Secretary

Shared Services Centre Board

Chair— Renée Leon

Shared Services Centre Partners Forum
  • Reports to the Shared Services Centre Board

Executive Meeting

Chair—Renée Leon

Audit Committee

Chair—Sandra Parker

  • Reports to the Executive Meeting and also directly to the Secretary

Finance and Business Services Committee

Chair—Martin Hehir

Information Technology Committee

Chair—Anthony Parsons

People and Capability Committee

Chair—Martin Hehir

Risk and Implementation Committee

Chair—Sandra Parker

Strategy Committee

Co-chairs—Martin Hehir and Sandra Parker

Senior Management Meeting

  • Reports to the Executive meeting

Employment Cluster Steering Committee

Chair—Martin Hehir

Workplace Relations and Economic Strategy Cluster Steering Committee

Chair—Sandra Parker

National Leadership Team

Chair—Helen Willoughby

The department’s six top-tier committees are:

  • Audit - assists the department to comply with its obligations under the Commonwealth resource management framework and provides a forum for communication between the Secretary, senior managers and the department’s internal and external auditors
  • Finance and Business Services - considers and oversees the use of money, resources and procedures to ensure the department meets its business goals
  • Information Technology - considers and oversees the management and use of information technology to enable the department to meet its programme and corporate objectives
  • People and Capability - considers and oversees the management of people and organisational strategies and assists the department to comply with its work health and safety duties and obligations
  • Risk and Implementation - considers and oversees the management of risks to the department’s business delivery and provides strategic oversight on the implementation of government initiatives
  • Strategy - provides a forum for discussing strategic issues and opportunities, and promotes the availability of data and insights to enhance department-wide strategic thinking.

The committees meet approximately six times per year, with additional meetings if necessary, and provide quarterly activity and yearly strategic reports. They are supported by secretariats that meet monthly to share ideas and lessons learned and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

The department is also guided by operational committees:

  • Senior Management Meeting - a weekly meeting of the Executive with all group managers to provide a shared management perspective on strategic and operational issues
  • Employment Cluster and Workplace Relations and Economic Strategy Cluster steering committees - leadership forums in each cluster (the collection of groups led by a deputy secretary) that promote the principles of good governance at the group and branch levels
  • National Leadership Team - a management forum for leaders from the state network and national office.

The Secretary is also chair of the Shared Services Centre (SSC) board, which receives input from the SSC Partners Forum. The forum, established under the authority of the secretaries of the partner departments—Employment, and Education and Training—was formed to identify, examine, resolve or refer matters of direct interest to the partner departments and the SSC and advise on governance and strategic matters specified in the heads of agreement concerning the two partner departments. Further information about governance arrangements of the SSC is on page 83.

Committee structure review

Our committee structure is reviewed annually to ensure that it continues to enhance our performance and help deliver on the government’s priorities. The 2014 review included an assessment against our strategic priorities, the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the principles in the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) better practice guide on public sector governance.

Recommendations from the review included broadening the scope of the Finance Committee to include business improvement activities, and the Implementation Committee to include risk activities. The membership of committees was also broadened to include representatives at the Senior Executive Service (SES) band 1 and Executive Level (EL) 2 levels so that a wide range of perspectives and views are considered.

The Strategy Committee was established in late 2014 to oversee policy development, research and evaluation, as recommended by the review. The committee is intended to be a think-tank for developing longer term strategies and influencing the longer term direction and resourcing decisions of the department.

In response to the review’s findings, the department made administrative changes to enhance the reporting of meeting decisions and outcomes, and ensure transparency and communication of decision making. The department also drafted guidance to support the committee members and secretariats in their roles, including a guide to governance that provides context and support to our people.

Planning

Strategic Plan 2014–2017

The department’s strategic plan outlines how we will deliver on the government’s priorities, work together and build the culture of the department.

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. The plan reinforces that:

  • having a job provides financial security to ensure choice in housing, education and health, and can also enhance self-esteem, social skills and self-confidence
  • a great workplace is a productive workplace where people contribute to the best of their ability and skills, and are able to do their jobs safely.

The plan sets out strategies and priorities to ensure that we are a department that:

  • delivers on the government’s agenda and its priorities
  • is forward-lookingand strives to be innovative in everything we do
  • collaborates meaningfully across the public service
  • has people at the core of our business.

The plan is put into action through the annual business planning process and is available on the department’s website at http://strategicplan.employment.gov.au.

Business planning

We develop business plans in each area of the department, giving our people an opportunity to consider priorities for the year ahead, how they will be measured and how they will be achieved. The plans also provide an important link between the strategic plan and individual performance agreements. This also helps to drive performance, increase engagement and corporate alignment, and build capability in our people.

The business plan template is streamlined to focus on the four pillars of the strategic plan—delivery, collaboration, forward-looking and people—and is integrated with other corporate activities, inspiring our people to:

  • conduct assessments for business continuity and strategic risks including fraud
  • consider new ways of working to collaborate, innovate and be forward-looking
  • use evaluation, research and evidence to meet our objectives
  • develop as individuals and build our culture
  • identify activities that further our commitment to reconciliation, reinforcing that Indigenous business is our business.

As part of the business planning process, the Executive and each group’s leadership team meet twice a year to identify objectives, processes and challenges. The plans are living documents and are reviewed and updated as needed to reflect any changes in priorities; they are reviewed biannually to track progress.

Corporate plan

During 2014–15 we worked on developing the department’s first corporate plan, a requirement for all entities under the PGPA Act and the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework. The first plan will be published in August 2015 and will be reported against in the annual performance statement in our 2015–16 annual report.

The corporate plan will set out our strategies for achieving our purposes and describe how success will be measured. In the annual performance statement we will assess the extent to which we succeeded in achieving our purposes.

As part of the development of the plan, we drew on information from internal and external publications and consulted with areas from across the department to gather information and seek feedback. To assist our portfolio entities with developing their plans, we formed a working group to collaborate and share ideas and lessons learned.

IT Strategic Plan 2014–2017

The department has a key dependency on information technology to support policy development, programme delivery and staff productivity. The department’s IT strategic plan, released in early 2015, guides our information technology direction and efforts and has seven high-level strategies that work to:

  • increase data analytics capability—supporting evidence-based policy development, programme delivery and evaluation through efficient data collection, collation, analysis and presentation
  • increase efficiency and reduce red tape—effectively implementing government programmes, streamlining processes and reducing the burden associated with programme participation and compliance
  • enable innovative business models—developing new service delivery methods as technology advances
  • support high staff productivity—increasing amenity and productivity by delivering modern and functional IT support
  • implement effective IT sourcing strategies—securing the right tools and IT infrastructure components on a cost-effective, capable and reliable basis
  • engage in whole-of-government IT initiatives—exploring opportunities for data-sharing, simplifying access and shared services arrangements
  • improve IT capability—aligning investment with organisational strategies and priorities, responding efficiently to changing demands.

The IT strategic plan enables the department to map how IT will be used to help achieve the objectives outlined in the department’s strategic plan, and is supported by the IT work plan which details the approved IT investment priorities, projects and services.

Evaluation Research and Evidence Framework 2015–2020

During 2014–15, the department developed a framework that will ensure that our evaluation and research agenda is coherent, supports evidence-based policy and maximises the use of data and analysis. The framework was developed in the context of the PGPA Act and the department’s strategic plan.

The framework sets out goals under four pillars to focus our work:

  • evaluation—provide timely and relevant evidence that supports reviews of current programmes and provides an evidence base for new programmes

  • research—ensure the research agenda for the department is coherent and linked to policies

  • data management—establish a programme of principles that improve data quality, accessibility and capability

  • capability—enhance the skills and capability of staff in the production and use of evidence.

The pillars are supported by overarching strategies of governance, communication and engagement, which will provide the structure for continuous improvement. Projects under the framework will collectively seek to address complex issues and support the department to deliver on strategic priorities over the next five years.

Working groups with participants from across the department will deliver the projects identified under the framework. The responsible officer for the framework is the manager of the Evaluation, Research and Evidence Branch, who will report to the Strategy Committee on the progress of projects over the next five years.

Looking ahead

During 2015–16 our governance activities will focus on continuous improvement and the ongoing implementation of the PGPA Act. The department will:

  • build on the establishment of the Strategy Committee as our think-tank
  • embed and promote the Evaluation, Research and Evidence Framework 2015–2020 and IT strategic plan to develop long-term strategies and use data and analysis to enhance policy design and service delivery
  • launch our corporate plan and align our performance reporting and business planning processes with the plan.

A governance review will be conducted in mid-2015 to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of the community, reduce duplication and refine processes, and build our organisational capability.

Innovation at work

Innovation is core to our business—being forward-looking is one of the four pillars of our strategic plan—and will guide the future direction of the work we do. In the department, innovation is defined as ideas successfully applied—and it is something that everyone does. It is about problem-solving in a new way. Most innovation happens through small improvements, but we also focus on making changes to our business and big ideas.

A highlight of the department’s calendar is Innovation Month. During the next Innovation Month in July 2015, we will work together to design an innovation framework for the department. The framework will improve the visibility of innovation already occurring in the department and provide a focus for additional efforts over the next 12 months. At the end of Innovation Month, the Secretary will be presented with the framework designed by our employees.

Risk management

Risk management in the department is integrated with our strategic and business planning processes, ensuring risks to delivery are actively identified, managed and monitored. A higher level of compliance was achieved in risk management during the year, with expansion of the Implementation Committee to include risk activities and the continued positive engagement of the Executive. We revised our risk management policy and framework to more directly align with the PGPA Act and the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy.

The department again achieved excellent results in the Comcover Benchmarking Survey, which in 2015 moved away from numerical scoring to a six-level maturity model aligned with the nine elements of the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy. Participation in the survey became mandatory for the first time in 2015. The department achieved an ‘advanced’ maturity level overall—higher than any other policy entity in the survey. This result reaffirms the department’s well-embedded culture of risk management.

The department is continuing to work with Comcover on developing tailored risk appetite and tolerance statements, which will include significant revisions to the department’s risk matrix. Comcover has engaged Deloitte to guide the department through the process. Once the statements are finalised, the department will start work on system design for a new risk management approach that will more effectively link the customer relationship module, which is currently used to manage provider risk in employment services, to a more fully integrated department-wide risk management system.

Fraud control

The department is committed to preventing fraud in all aspects of our business. Our fraud control framework aims to ensure that we maintain a high level of service to the community by protecting public money and property and the integrity, security and reputation of the department.

The framework ensures that fraud against, and losses incurred by, the department are minimised; and that if fraud occurs, it is rapidly detected, effectively investigated and dealt with through appropriate sanctions (including criminal prosecution).

In 2014–15, the department promoted fraud awareness and managed fraud risks by:

  • continuing to integrate fraud risk assessment into our business planning processes

  • providing an interactive online fraud awareness training package for employees

  • maintaining a suite of fraud control guidance documents for all employees

  • developing a new fraud control plan, which will be implemented in 2015–16 and ensure compliance with the requirements of the PGPA Act

  • 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 Framework 2014.

Internal audit

The internal audit team forms part of the department’s governance and assurance framework. The team provides independent assurance, advice and controls designed to contribute to the effective management of the department’s business risks, achievement of objectives and improvement of business performance. The team is also the Audit Committee’s secretariat.

The internal audit team contributes to fostering a culture of accountability, integrity and high ethical standards by encouraging debate and identifying common ground to achieve successful outcomes. By collaborating with internal and external stakeholders to build and share information and knowledge, the team encourages cost-effectiveness, self-assessment and continuous improvement across the department.

The internal audit function is also responsible for:

  • delivering a programme of audits

  • providing information and advice to the department’s key governance committees

  • monitoring the implementation of internal and ANAO audit recommendations

  • reviewing and monitoring ANAO audit reports and better practice publications and distributing relevant information to the department and, where appropriate, the Shared Services Centre

  • facilitating ANAO activities related to the department.

The internal audit work programme, developed following consultations with the Executive and group and branch managers, outlines a three-year forward plan of potential internal audits. The programme takes account of ANAO activity, is consistent with the Audit Committee’s charter and reflects the department’s mission, business and risks. The programme is approved by the Audit Committee and operates on a financial year basis. It is adjusted as necessary to respond to the changing environment, with endorsement from the Audit Committee chair.

The 2014–15 internal audit work programme focused on assuring the risks, processes and arrangements resulting from the September 2013 machinery-of-government changes, including the establishment and operation of the Shared Services Centre, and the introduction of the PGPA Act.

The internal audit function reports to the Audit Committee and the chief internal auditor is accountable to the Secretary.

Client service charter

Our departmental 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 APS 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. In 2014–15 the department tailored and updated information on the website to better meet the needs of clients, stakeholders and the community.

This charter is the overarching client service statement for the department. Departmental programmes also employ specific charters which apply to their particular business activities.

The department aims to provide a high standard of service to all its stakeholders to serve the government and the community and to deliver the government’s agenda effectively. Links to the service charter are on the department’s intranet and on our website at www.employment.gov.au/about-department.