The Department’s governance framework plays an important role in supporting efficient, effective and ethical use of departmental resources. It enables the Department to meet its performance and accountability requirements in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and helps staff to exercise good governance. During 2016–17, the Department continued to implement the requirements of the Act while also ensuring that arrangements were in place to help staff plan for success, define and manage an appetite for risk, and regularly monitor performance.
The Executive Meeting
At the highest level of the Department’s governance structure is the Executive Meeting, which supports the Secretary in making key decisions for the Department. Its focus is the delivery of departmental outcomes, strategic issues that affect the Department’s business groups, and significant operational matters. Convened weekly, the meeting is chaired by the Secretary and attended by the Department’s Deputy Secretaries. Until the establishment of a Deputy Secretary Corporate in February 2017, the meeting was attended by two of the Department’s Group Managers with corporate responsibilities.
The Department’s governance committees support the Executive Meeting by assisting with reporting, decision making and consultation in their areas of expertise. As at 30 June 2017, the Department had five governance committees:
- The Audit Committee helps the Department comply with its obligations under the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act and provides a forum for communication between the Secretary, senior managers, and the Department’s internal and external auditors.
- The Finance and Business Services Committee oversees business improvement practices and the use of resources and procedures to ensure that the Department meets its business goals. This work includes overseeing the Department’s risk management, fraud control and protective security arrangements.
- The Information Technology Committee oversees the management and use of information technology to enable the Department to meet its program and corporate objectives, as well as ensuring that the Department has appropriate information technology security controls in place.
- The People and Capability Committee oversees the management of the Department’s people and organisational strategies and helps the Department comply with its work health and safety duties and obligations.
- The Strategy Committee provides a forum for discussing strategic concerns and opportunities and promotes the availability of data and insights to enhance department‑wide strategic thinking.
The Department also has a number of consultative committees, steering committees and working groups that provide support, monitor, consult and share information. The committee structure is reviewed annually as part of a governance health check.
The Audit Committee meets quarterly and each of the other committees usually bi-monthly, with additional meetings held when necessary. Quarterly activity reports are provided to the Executive Meeting to assist it with monitoring progress and performance. Each committee is supported by a secretariat, which also meets bi-monthly to share ideas and foster a culture of continuous improvement.
The Department’s operational committees consist of leadership forums for two business groups (the Employment Cluster and the Workplace Relations and Economic Strategy Cluster). They are convened to promote principles of good governance across all levels of the Department. The Senior Management Meeting takes place weekly and consists of the Executive and all Group Managers. The Senior Management Meeting shares information on strategic and operational issues.
The Department continually looks for ways to make its governance arrangements more suited to its purpose. In December 2016, with the majority of the remaining shared services centre functions, primarily ICT, moving to the Department of Employment as part of the machinery of government changes, the Technology Services Group was formed. Rather than create separate governance arrangements, the Technology Services Committee has integrated with the existing Information Technology Committee and expanded membership to include an external member from the Department of Education and Training.
The Department conducts an annual health check of its governance arrangements. This year’s health check identified that reporting on the implementation of key initiatives could be streamlined and delivered from line areas and duplication of reporting could be eliminated. As a result, the decision was made to disband the existing Risk and Implementation Committee. Oversight of the Department’s risk framework and the application of risk management across the Department was transferred to the Finance and Business Services Committee and remains a key focus for the Department.
Planning for performance
The Department’s performance framework offers a foundation of accountability and transparency. Effective planning guides the Department in ensuring it achieves its outcomes.
The Strategic Plan 2017–2020
On 22 June 2017, the Department launched its second strategic plan —the Strategic Plan 2017–2020 —setting out at the highest level what is important, the work of the Department, how we work, and most importantly how we work together to achieve the Department’s vision More Jobs. Great Workplaces.
This plan refines the Department’s direction, building on the solid foundation of the existing vision and the four elements of the Department’s first strategic plan.
The plan introduced a new tagline explaining the work of the Department – More job seekers into jobs. Safe, fair and productive workplaces. The new tagline clarifies that, while our Department may not directly create jobs, we assist job seekers to become sustainably employed as quickly as possible. We also provide robust policy advice on making great workplaces, that is, those that are safe, fair and productive. With better workplaces come better conditions for sustained job creation.
The new strategic plan carries forward many of the elements of the previous strategic plan. There are no major changes in the context in which the Department operates, so new plan consolidates and takes forward these durable elements.
Five core elements within the strategic plan provide direction when people in the Department plan deliver and evaluate their work:
- Delivery. We deliver on government’s agenda and its priorities.
- Collaboration. We build and maintain meaningful relationships across the Public Service and with our non–Public Service partners.
- Forward-looking. We strive to be innovative in everything we do, identifying risks, emerging trends and opportunities.
- Influence. We aspire to be influential in the economic and social environment in which we work, for the benefit of the community we serve
- People. An engaged and capable workforce is the heart of our business and our ability to support the Government and the community.
Influence is a new element in this strategic plan and reflects the Department’s growing maturity as an organisation and the role it plays in the broader environment in which it operates.
The plan is a reference point for everyone in the Department and flows through all departmental planning, including corporate planning and business planning processes.
The Corporate Plan 2016–17
The corporate plan is the Department’s primary planning document, fulfilling a core requirement under the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act and aligning with performance information published in the Portfolio Budget Statements.
The plan identifies how the Department will achieve its purpose by outlining departmental priorities and measures for the year ahead and how these will be achieved over a rolling four-year period. It also details how the Department’s operating environment and capability are expected to change in the coming years and how the department will manage these factors in achieving its purpose. The plan is developed in consultation with all areas of the Department and draws on existing internal and external publications.
The Department’s results against the performance criteria in the 2016–17 Corporate Plan and Portfolio Budget Statements are set out in the annual performance statement.
The Finance and Business Services Committee
The Finance and Business Services Committee oversees the use of resources and the Department’s strategies for meeting its business goals. It considers opportunities for driving business efficiencies and for supporting innovation and organisational capability. As at 30 June 2017, the committee was co-chaired by the Deputy Secretary Employment and the Acting Deputy Secretary Corporate. Membership includes a cross-section of management levels and organisational areas from throughout the Department. The committee met nine times during 2016–17.
The committee’s work and priorities expanded during the reporting year, taking into account changes to the Department’s organisational structure resulting from the machinery of government changes and the transfer of risk management responsibilities from the former Risk and Implementation Committee. To refine its scope and identify opportunities to add further value to the Department, the committee held a planning workshop in February 2017 to frame its priorities for the year ahead. These priorities were driven by the Secretary and committee members; among them are strengthening the Department’s organisational capability and continuing to integrate functions following the December 2016 machinery of government changes. Additionally, the committee will continue to provide oversight of the Department’s risk management framework including the development of strategies to respond to identified areas of improvement.
The Committee values broad employee engagement in promoting departmental initiatives. With this in mind, its work in 2016–17 focused largely on activities designed to finalise and embed the Department’s Organisational Capability Vision, which is a shared vision for the way the Department’s people, culture, processes, systems and structures work together to help deliver good outcomes, and the new strategic plan.
The Committee’s focus for 2017–18 includes the following:
- embedding the Strategic Plan and Organisational Capability Vision
- exploring opportunities to gain efficiencies in how the Department allocates and uses financial resources
- improving business practices and reducing red tape
- ensuring the Department maintains a strong risk management culture.
Business plans are developed each year, giving 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, corporate plan and individual performance agreements, as well as any risk or project plans. This also helps to drive performance, increase engagement and corporate alignment, and build capability.
For each group (usually three to four branches), business plans are complemented by continuity plans and risk plans, and bring together in one place the primary activities and strategies for business areas. The plans focus on the five core elements of the Strategic Plan and are integrated with other corporate activities, and provide the context for 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 capability as individuals, and teams, to build our culture
- identify activities that further our commitment to reconciliation, reinforcing the principle that Indigenous business is our business.
As part of the business planning process, the Department’s Executive and each group’s leadership team meet twice a year to discuss objectives and challenges. These meetings afford an opportunity to review progress towards the delivery of outcomes. The business plans are reviewed and updated as needed to reflect any changes in priorities and to track progress.
The IT Strategic Plan 2014–2017
The IT Strategic Plan 2014–2017, launched in February 2015, guides the Department’s information technology direction and efforts and supports our vision of more jobs and great workplaces. It ensures that we make the best possible use of IT and provides a transparent, accessible and streamlined framework for decision making and accountability. The plan has seven strategies:
- Increase data analytics capability.
- Increase efficiency and reduce red tape.
- Enable innovative business models.
- Support high staff productivity.
- Implement effective IT sourcing strategies.
- Engage in whole-of-government it initiatives.
- Improve IT capability.
Operational governance bodies review progress, key issues and change management for each of the Department’s IT investment projects. Open discussion on investment projects, including those with factors inhibiting their success, ensures that the process remains accountable and transparent.
The Information Technology Committee
The Information Technology Committee advises the Executive on departmental IT capabilities, strategy, risk, investment and prioritisation and oversees implementation of the IT Strategy.
Steering committees in the Department’s two ICT groups manage the IT investment portfolio and services and support the Information Technology Committee in delivering the strategy and work program, including risk management.
The Evaluation, Research and Evidence Framework 2015–2020
The Evaluation, Research and Evidence Framework 2015–2020 outlines how the Department is strengthening its evidence base and translating evidence into better policy, programs and practices.
After two years in operation, in 2016–17 the framework was updated to ensure that it remains clear and encourages collaboration and communication across the Department, and that work streams are well integrated.
Among other achievements under the framework in 2016–17 were the following:
- publishing evaluation strategies for jobactive, the Empowering Youth initiatives and the Transition to Work program
- supporting 13 research activities, including projects examining employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians, pre-release prisoners, mature-age women and migrant workers
- managing the Research and Evaluation Services Panel, which supports the research and evaluation work of the Department and other government agencies. To date panel members have been engaged for 97 projects, 26 of which are being undertaken by the Department.
In 2017–18, the Department will strengthen its focus on the dissemination and communication of evidence to ensure it realises the benefits of its investment in research and evaluation.
The Strategy Committee
The Strategy Committee provides a forum for exchanging, testing and challenging ideas about current and future work. As well as considering longer term strategic matters, the committee advises the Executive on the Department’s role in achieving short to medium-term departmental and whole-of-government policy priorities. The committee also oversees evaluation, data and research projects, economic and labour market analysis, and policy development.
During 2016–17, the Committee endorsed a number of strategic policies, including developing the program of work for the two-year forward research agenda and options for a departmental data management strategy.
The committee has also considered a broad range of strategic policy papers on topics such as the Department’s protocol for ethical conduct when conducting research, mental health and work in Australia, behavioural economics projects in progress, and work being done to redress low workforce participation in regional areas.
The Department will continue to collaborate with other agencies to provide policy advice to government on reviews of migration policy programs. It will also work with other government agencies to ensure that there is a fair workplace relations and workplace health and safety system with a focus on temporary visa holders with a work right, including tackling workplace exploitation.