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Corporate governance

ACIAR is established by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Act 1982 (the ACIAR Act), as amended. It is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act) and a statutory agency under the Public Service Act 1999. ACIAR is part of the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio.

The agency has an executive management governance structure. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) manages the administrative and financial affairs of ACIAR and its staff, subject to, and in accordance with, any directions given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The CEO is supported by the Audit Committee, which provides independent assurance to the CEO on financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, and systems of internal auditing of ACIAR. ACIAR complies with relevant accounting standards and legislative reporting requirements.

Also established under the ACIAR Act is the Commission for International Agricultural Research (the Commission), which provides collective decision-making and expert strategic advice to the Minister on the operations of ACIAR; and the Policy Advisory Council, which provides advice to the Minister on strategic aspects of national and regional development.

Governance structure of ACIAR Flow diagram showing the relationship of the ACIAR management to the minister and advisory bodies
The operations of ACIAR are determined at the highest level by the ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027, which guides the agency, consistent with its enabling legislation, Australia’s development assistance policy and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Performance is planned and monitored within the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework. Planning in terms of the outcome and program administered by ACIAR is documented by the ACIAR Corporate Plan 2019–20, which covers the four-year period 2019–20 to 2022–23. The Corporate Plan 2019–20 identifies targets for performance, which are aligned with performance criteria and targets set out for ACIAR in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2019–20.

ACIAR has polices and guidelines in place to support ethical behaviour and mandate the APS Values and Code of Conduct. During 2019–20 ACIAR reviewed its Human Resources policies, which included the APS Values, ACIAR Values, Diversity Framework and Code of Conduct Procedures, to ensure all policies and guidance material is current and aligns with legislative requirements.

Executive management

The ACIAR Act prescribes the appointment and functions of the CEO and staff, as well as their remuneration and employment conditions.

Chief Executive Officer

The office and role of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) are established in sections 4A and 5 of the ACIAR Act. The CEO manages the administrative and financial affairs of ACIAR and its staff, subject to, and in accordance with, any directions given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs under Section 5 of the Act.

The primary responsibilities of the CEO are to:

  • formulate programs and policies with respect to agricultural research that identify and/or solve agricultural problems in developing countries
  • commission agricultural research to address programs and policies formulated
  • communicate the results of such agricultural research
  • establish and fund training schemes related to ACIAR research programs
  • conduct and fund development activities related to ACIAR research programs
  • fund international agricultural research centres.

The CEO holds responsibilities as Head of Agency as set out in the PGPA Act and the Public Service Act 1999. The CEO is not subject to direction by the Commission in relation to the performance of functions or exercise of powers under these Acts.

Professor Andrew Campbell was appointed to the role of CEO on 31 July 2016. The Governor-General appoints the CEO and the Minister is the identified Employing Body for remuneration purposes. The remuneration and terms and conditions of the CEO are determined by the Remuneration Tribunal (Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Full-time Public Office) Determination 2020, made under subsections 7(3) and (4) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 and Remuneration Tribunal (Official Travel) Determination 2018.

Written directions may be given to the CEO by the Minister regarding the exercising of his powers or the performance of his functions. This includes directions with respect to the commissioning of particular research. In 2019–20 there were no directions given.

Executive personnel

The CEO leads an executive team that supports and advises the CEO on strategic priorities and corporate and operational policies. During the reporting period ended 30 June 2020, ACIAR had six executives who met the definition of key management personnel (Key management personnel, 2019–20). The ACIAR Executive met 15 times during 2019–20.

In the notes to the financial statements for the period ending 30 June 2020, ACIAR discloses a summary of remuneration expenses for key management personnel, as outlined in Table 2.1. In accordance with the PGPA Rule, the summary information is disaggregated and presented in Appendix 3. Executive remuneration.

All staff of the agency are engaged under the Public Service Act 1999, which allows the CEO to determine in writing the terms and conditions of employment applying to the employees of the agency (subsection 24(1)). Senior Executive Service officers are employed under individual subsection 24(1) determinations agreed by the CEO.

Key management personnel, 2019–20

Name

Position

Term as KMP

Prof. Andrew Campbell

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Full year

Ms Eleanor Dean

General Manager, Outreach and Capacity Building

Full year

Ms Audrey Gormley

Chief Finance Officer (CFO)

Full year

Dr Peter Horne

General Manager, Country Programs

Full year

Dr Daniel Walker

Chief Scientist

Full year

Ms Mellissa Wood

General Manager, Global Program

Part year1

1Position terminated on 11 October 2019 with resignation of incumbent

Financial accountability and compliance

ACIAR, as a statutory authority, is subject to the policy guidelines determined by the Australian Government from time to time regarding accountability, reporting, review and general operations.

The agency is accountable through the Minister to Parliament. It is also subject to government financial and accounting policies and procedures. Staff members are employed under the Public Service Act 1999. Within these constraints, ACIAR has the power to do all things it considers appropriate for the performance of its statutory functions.

Authority

ACIAR derives its authority from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Act 1982 (ACIAR Act). Financial powers and duties are also drawn from the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and subordinate rules, and from the Public Service Act 1999 in the case of staffing.

Accounting practices

ACIAR follows accounting practices in accordance with the PGPA Act, other related legislation and recognised accounting standards. Financial statements are presented in accrual accounting format in Part 4. Financial statements of this annual report. The financial statements have been audited by the Australian National Audit Office.

Insurances

Primary corporate insurance for ACIAR is provided through Comcover, as the manager of the Commonwealth’s insurable risks. Comcover coverage includes general and products liability professional indemnity, CEO and officer's liability, property loss and damage, personal accident and official travel. The insurance premium for 2019–20 was $69,242 (excluding GST). The premium paid for 2018–19 was $59,401 (excluding GST).

Significant non-compliance issues with finance law

During 2019–20, ACIAR did not report any matters of significant non-compliance with finance law to the Minister under paragraph 19(1)(e) of the PGPA Act.

Audit Committee

The primary role of the Audit Committee is to provide independent assurance to the CEO on financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, and systems of internal auditing of ACIAR. The ACIAR Audit Committee is established in accordance with Section 45 of the PGPA Act.

The functions and responsibilities of the Audit Committee are published on the ACIAR website.

Four Audit Committee meetings were held in 2019–20. Each committee meeting was supported by advisers from ACIAR external auditors (Australian National Audit Office), internal auditors (Protiviti) and relevant agency staff with secretariat support provided by the ACIAR finance team.

Audit Committee membership and meeting attendance shows Audit Committee membership during 2019–20, and the number of meetings attended by each member during the year. Only one member of the committee is remunerated for services. Ms Fagan received a fee of $1,500 per meeting.

Audit Committee membership and meeting attendance

Member

Organisation

Term of appointment

Meetings eligible

Meetings attended

Start

End

Mr Mark Craig

Chair & External Member

Executive Director, Tourism Australia

1 Aug 2019

1 Aug 2021

4

3

Ms Bronwyn Fagan

External Member

Legal consultant

1 Aug 2019

1 Aug 2022

4

4

Dr Robyn Johnston

Internal member

Research Program Manager, ACIAR

1 Aug 2019

1 Aug 2022

4

3

Risk management and business continuity planning

The Audit Committee is responsible for monitoring risk management and business continuity planning.

Internal audit and countering fraud

Internal audit is an important part of ACIAR governance framework, providing an integral contribution to governance, risk management and control.

In 2019–20, internal audit activity consisted of a phase two review of the ACIAR project life cycle, a review of ACIAR Essential Eight maturity and a Payroll Compliance audit. All recommendations arising from these processes were either satisfactorily addressed during the year or were in the process of being addressed.

ACIAR procedures and processes for fraud prevention, investigation, reporting and data collection meet our specific needs and comply with Commonwealth fraud control requirements. The ACIAR fraud control plan is focused on raising awareness among staff, through fraud prevention training, fostering an ethical and professional working environment aligned with the Australian Public Service (APS) Values and APS Code of Conduct, and maintaining strong internal control and audit processes that reduce fraud risks.

The Audit Committee is responsible for overseeing implementation of the fraud control plan. The plan is brought to the attention of new staff as part of the ACIAR induction process and is available electronically to all staff.

Commission for International Agricultural Research

The Commission for International Agricultural Research (the Commission) is established by Section 7 of the ACIAR Act. The Commission provides advice to the Foreign Minister in relation to:

  • the formulation of agricultural research programs and policies, to identify agricultural problems and find solutions in developing countries
  • commissioning and communicating research, and establishing and funding training schemes related to ACIAR-supported research
  • priorities for the ACIAR program and funding
  • on the Minister’s request, any other matter relating to the Act.

The Commission comprises a Chair appointed by the Minister and six other Commissioners. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor-General and hold office for a period specified in the instrument of appointment, not exceeding three years. Commissioners for 2019–20 are listed in Membership of the Commission for International Agricultural Research, 2019–20, noting that one vacancy was carried for the period. Terms of appointment are shown in Terms and meetings attended for members of the Commission, 2019–20.

The ACIAR Act requires that the Commission holds at least four meetings each financial year. During 2019–20, the Commission met four times (Meetings of the Commission for International Agricultural Research, 2019–20).

Membership of the Commission for International Agricultural Research, 2019–20

Commissioner

Mr Don Heatley (Chair)

Grazier, north Queensland

Professor Andrew Campbell

CEO, ACIAR

Dr Sasha Courville

General Manager, Social Impact, National Australia Bank

Ms Catherine Marriott

Western Australia State Manager, Cooperative Research Centre, Northern Australia

Ms Su McCluskey

Cattle farmer, southern New South Wales

Professor Gabrielle Persley

Adjunct Professor, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland

Terms and meetings attended for members of the Commission, 2019–20

Commissioner

Term of appointment

Meetings eligible

Meetings attended

Start

End

Mr Don Heatley (Chair)

18 Sep 2017

30 Jun 2020

4

4

Professor Andrew Campbell

31 Jul 2016

31 Jul 2019

01

3

28 May 2020

27 May 2023

1

1

Dr Sasha Courville

18 Sep 2017

30 Jun 2020

4

4

Ms Catherine Marriott

18 Sep 2017

30 Jun 2020

4

4

Ms Su McCluskey

29 May 2018

30 Jun 2020

4

4

Professor Gabrielle Persley

18 Sep 2017

30 Jun 2020

4

4

Meetings of the Commission for International Agricultural Research, 2019–20

Meeting

Date

Location

#48

17–20 September 2019

Townsville

#49

2–3 December 2019

Canberra

#50

9–12 March 2020

Indonesia

#51

2–3 June 2020

Virtual meeting

Disclosure of interests

Commissioners are required to disclose to the Minister and to the Commission any direct or indirect pecuniary interest that might conflict with the proper performance of the Commissioners’ functions. The disclosure and the nature of the interest are recorded in the Commission meeting minutes, which are available for consideration by ACIAR auditors.

Commission costs

The cost of operation of the Commission during 2019–20 was $153,741 including fees, travel and other meeting expenses. The comparative figure for 2018–19 was $190,802.

Fees for the Chair and members of the Commission are set by the Remuneration Tribunal. The daily fees for the Chair and Members (other than the CEO) were $1000 and $750 respectively as at 30 June 2020.

Policy Advisory Council

The Policy Advisory Council (the Council) is established under Section 17 of the ACIAR Act. The Council provides advice to the Minister regarding:

  • agricultural problems of developing countries
  • programs and policies with respect to agricultural research that will either or both identify agricultural problems of developing countries and find solutions to agricultural problems of developing countries.

The role of the Council is to advise the Minister, the Commission and ACIAR on matters including:

  • national and regional development constraints
  • opportunities for research and development collaboration
  • national and regional research priorities, particularly those of ACIAR partner countries
  • the matching of Australian expertise (Australia’s competitive advantage) with these priorities
  • sources of national and international expertise.

The Council’s membership is limited to 13, comprising a President, the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or her nominee, and 9–11 other members appointed by the Minister. Predominantly, members are appointed from ACIAR partner countries, bringing a range of agricultural and development expertise and experience to the Council. Under the Act, the Minister is required to ensure that a substantial number of Council members are residents of countries other than Australia, having regard for the knowledge of appointees concerning the agricultural problems of developing countries or their experience in organising or conducting agricultural research. Members of the Policy Advisory Council are listed in President and members of the Policy Advisory Council, 2019–20 and appointment terms are shown in Appointment terms of the Policy Advisory Council, 2019–20.

The Council meets bi-annually to discuss areas related to its role and functions, once in Australia and once internationally, with associated field visits. Scheduled meetings for 2019–20 are shown in Planned meetings of the Policy Advisory Council, 2019–20.

The Council met in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, 16–19 September 2019. This was an informal meeting due to the inability to reach a quorum of members, as two members were waiting reappointment at the time of the meeting. During this time, Council members were involved in meetings held in parallel and in conjunction with the Commission for International Agricultural Research (the Commission), providing an opportunity for the two bodies to share information and ideas on future directions for international agricultural research. The meeting included field visits that provided opportunities for knowledge exchange between Australian agricultural experts, members of the Council and the Commission. Council members also met with stakeholders in Townsville and visited James Cook University where they were presented with a showcase of activities at the university.

The second meeting of the Council was planned to be held in March 2020 in Indonesia. However, this meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

President and members of the Policy Advisory Council, 2019–20

Council member

Professor Kym Anderson (President)

Professor of Economics, University of Adelaide, Australia

Crawford School of Public Policy

Dr Nguyen Van Bo

President, Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Vietnam

Dr Jia Jingdun

Director General, China Rural Technology Development Centre, Ministry of Science and Technology, China

Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

CEO Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), South Africa

Dr Sar Chetra

Deputy Director, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Cambodia

Professor Ramesh Chand

Member, Union Minister of State National Institute of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, India

HE Naela Chohan

High Commissioner Pakistan, High Commission to Australia, Pakistan

Dr Audrey Aumua

Deputy Director General, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji

Dr Su Su Win

Director, Soil Science, Water Utilisation and Agricultural Engineering Division, Department of Agricultural Research, Myanmar

Prof Teatulohi Matainaho

Chairman, PNG Science and Technology Council

Chief Science Advisor to the Papua New Guinea Government

Dr Segenet Kelemu

Director General and CEO of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) Nairobi, Kenya

Appointment terms of the Policy Advisory Council, 2019–20

Council member

Term of appointment

(previous appointment in brackets)

Start

End

Professor Kym Anderson (President)

1 Oct 2017

(1 Oct 2014)

30 Sep 2020

(30 Sep 2017)

Dr Nguyen Van Bo

29 Oct 2019

(3 Aug 2016)

28 Oct 2021

(2 Aug 2019)

Dr Jia Jingdun

3 Aug 2016

02 Aug 2019

Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

3 Aug 2016

02 Aug 2019

Dr Sar Chetra

29 Oct 2019

(3 Aug 2016)

28 Oct 2020

(2 Aug 2019)

Professor Ramesh Chand

17 Jul 2020

(2 Feb 2017)

16 Jul 2023

(1 Feb 2020)

HE Naela Chohan

30 Mar 2017

30 Mar 2020

Dr Audrey Aumua

19 Feb 2019

18 Feb 2022

Dr Su Su Win

19 Feb 2019

18 Feb 2022

Prof Teatulohi Matainaho

19 Feb 2019

18 Feb 2022

Dr Segenet Kelemu

19 Feb 2019

18 Feb 2022

Planned meetings of the Policy Advisory Council, 2019–20

Meeting

Date

Location

#38

16–19 September 20191

Townsville, Queensland

#39

9–12 March 20202

Indonesia