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Management and accountability

This section details governance, staffing arrangements, and financial and property management, and applies to both the ACMA and eSafety, unless specified. For eSafety’s specific governance and administrative information, refer to ‘Accountability arrangements’ in Part 2—Office of the eSafety Commissioner annual report 2019–20.

Under the EOS Act, the ACMA makes staff available to assist the eSafety Commissioner to perform their functions and exercise their powers. All staff employed to assist the Commissioner are staff of the ACMA employed under the Public Service Act and are covered by all ACMA entitlements, protections and obligations.

Governance

The ACMA is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). The ACMA Chair is the accountable authority under the PGPA Act and the agency head for the purposes of the Public Service Act.

The ACMA Authority is a collegiate decision-making body that consists of at least three and not more than nine members, including the Chair and Deputy Chair. Members are appointed by the Governor-General and associate members are appointed by the Minister. The Code of Conduct for Authority members and associate members sets out the Authority’s strategic intent, approach to business, duties, responsibilities, and culture and values to guide its work. In 2019, cross-appointment arrangements were instituted between the ACMA and the ACCC.

The Executive Management Committee (EMC) meets fortnightly to assist the Chair in the role of accountable authority. The EMC advises on strategic matters and issues of significance, and oversees finance, resource management, risk, compliance, regulatory futures and research, enforcement and information technology areas. The EMC comprises the Chair, Deputy Chair/CEO and the four Senior Executive Service (SES) Band 2 general managers.

During 2019–20, the Enterprise Project Governance (EPG) Committee was established to support the EMC. This committee meets monthly and is chaired by the Deputy Chair (Chief Executive Officer). The EPG Committee was established to provide key governance oversight and monitoring of the effectiveness of our major projects.

In accordance with paragraph 17AG(2)(d) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule), no issues of noncompliance with the finance law were reported to the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts or the Minister for Finance during the reporting period.

Corporate planning

The Corporate plan 2019–20 outlined the strategic approach to achieving our purpose through medium- to long-term priorities over four years. The plan is available on the ACMA website.
During 2019–20, the EMC met quarterly to assess agency performance against the strategic priorities, activities and performance measures outlined in the corporate plan.

Risk management and fraud control

We maintain systems of fraud control and risk management in accordance with the PGPA Act, the PGPA Rule and Commonwealth policies.

Our Risk Management Framework provides guidance to staff on their risk management responsibilities, including making risk-aware decisions, utilising risk management tools to prioritise activities and communicating risks to stakeholders. During 2019–20, an ongoing program to improve our risk management framework focused on building capability, communications and embedding risk management within business process. Training designed to achieve a clear understanding of risk processes and responsibilities was delivered as part of the Leadership Development Framework, and all risk management documentation was published or renewed as part of the program. Employees with regular risk management duties are supported to undertake specialised risk training to improve their skills, knowledge and capability.

The EMC regularly reviews the organisation’s strategic risk profile, considers new and emerging risks and directs resources to mitigate identified risks. During the year, this included the implementation of a special COVID-19 risk assessment process managed under business continuity planning.

In 2019–20, the Fraud Control Plan risk assessment was revised and endorsed by the ACMA Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) and the Chair. The fraud risk assessment is an important part of our system of control. The Fraud Control Plan outlines our fraud control arrangements, including designated responsibilities and ongoing strategies for mitigating fraud to protect public money, property and information. Instances of fraud and investigations are recorded in the Fraud Risk Register and reported to the ARC.

Audit

We regularly review our governance and assurance systems, as well as our performance frameworks, and take steps to improve on our existing strong foundations. The ARC and internal auditors provide expert advice to the ACMA to enable continual improvement.

During 2019–20, the ARC met five times and continued to look at key corporate and regulatory processes. The ARC reviewed all internal and relevant external audit activity and reported on performance against its charter. The Risk Management Framework and recent enhancements to financial and non-financial performance reporting was a focus for the committee.

Over the reporting period, our internal audit services were provided by RSM Australia Pty Ltd. Eight internal audits and two management-initiated reviews were completed and accepted by the ARC. The ARC monitors all audit recommendations and reviews a selection of closed recommendations to confirm implementation over the longer term.

Details of the ARC are included in Appendix 1 of this report.

Australian National Audit Office performance audits

The ACMA participated in the Management of Spectrum Reallocation to Support the Deployment of 5G Services review by the Auditor-General.

External scrutiny 

During 2019–20, there were:

  • no decisions of administrative tribunals or decisions of the Australian Information Commissioner that had or may have a significant impact on the operations of the ACMA
  • no reports on the operations of the ACMA by the Auditor-General, a parliamentary committee or the Commonwealth Ombudsman
  • no capability reviews of the ACMA released during the reporting period.

There was one judicial decision, which has had, or may have, a significant impact on the operation of the ACMA and is summarised as follows.

Lottoland Australia Pty Ltd v Australian Communications and Media Authority [Supreme Court of NSW] [2019/00177128]

On 16 August 2019, the Supreme Court of NSW found that certain online gambling
services provided by the plaintiff, Lottoland Pty Ltd (Lottoland), were excluded wagering
services and therefore not prohibited interactive gambling services under the
Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (the IGA). In particular, the Court ruled that the services:

  • were a form of ‘betting’ for the purposes of paragraph 8A(5)(a) of the IGA; but
  • were not a ‘game’ for the purposes of paragraph 8A(5)(c) of the IGA.

The ACMA had, following an investigation in early 2019, concluded that five gambling services provided by Lottoland were prohibited interactive gambling services under the IGA, on the basis that they were services for the conduct of a game. Lottoland made an application in the Supreme Court of NSW for a declaration that the relevant services did not contravene the IGA.

The Court’s decision provides guidance on the application of the IGA to certain types of gambling services and the meaning of terms such as ‘game’ and ‘bet’.

Our people

The ACMA had 460 APS employees at 30 June 2020 (compared with 446 at 30 June 2019), of whom 61 work in eSafety. Comparative staffing details are in Appendix 2 of this report.

Terms and conditions of employment for all non-SES employees of the ACMA are determined by the ACMA Enterprise Agreement 2017–2020 (ACMA Agreement). Salary ranges available under the ACMA Agreement are in Appendix 2 of this report.

Terms and conditions for the ACMA’s 17 substantive SES employees, three of whom are assigned to eSafety, are contained in determinations made under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act. Salary ranges for SES employees are in Appendix 2 of this report.

Non-salary benefits for SES employees may include a mobile phone, airline club membership, reimbursement of professional fees and the allocation of a parking space.

At 30 June 2020, 27 employees (23 ACMA, four eSafety) at the APS levels 5 and 6, Executive Level 1 (EL1) or Executive Level 2 (EL2) had individual flexibility arrangements for additional salary or retention bonuses. The highest additional salary increases the EL2 maximum to $174,586 per annum (ACMA) and $209,382 per annum (eSafety). The EL1 maximum is increased to $124,105 per annum (ACMA) and $134,325 per annum (eSafety). The maximum retention bonus was $5,000 per annum (ACMA).

Performance payments

Performance pay is available to employees at the EL2 (and equivalent) level under the ACMA Agreement. Total performance payments in 2019–20 are set out in tables 1.13 and 1.14.

Table 1.13 Performance payments—ACMA, 2019–20

Total number of employees

Number of employees receiving performance pay

Aggregated (sum total) of all payments made

Average of all payments made

Minimum payment made

Maximum payment made

EL 2

61

14

$68,983

$4,927

$3,850

$9,137

Total

61

14

$68,983

$4,927

$3,850

$9,137

Table 1.14 Performance payments—eSafety, 2019–20

Total number of employees

Number of employees receiving performance pay

Aggregated (sum total) of all payments made

Average of all payments made

Minimum payment made

Maximum payment made

EL 2

19

12

$53,688

$4,474

$1,226

$9,257

Total

19

12

$53,688

$4,474

$1,226

$9,257

Workforce planning

During 2019–20, our workforce planning focused on building strategic workforce capability. We commenced work on developing a People Strategy, which aligns our strategic human resources direction with the business objectives set out in the ACMA’s corporate plan. A foundational review of the ACMA’s workforce data was also undertaken.

Entry-level programs

The ACMA Graduate Program continued this year. Graduates took part in the Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) Graduate Development Program, which aims to develop skills and capabilities to better enable them to contribute to a high-performing APS. The graduates also develop and learn through two rotations in the agency, providing them with exposure to different specialised functions in the ACMA. One graduate from our 2020 cohort was recruited through the APSC’s Indigenous Graduate Pathway program, an important step to increasing the diversity of our workforce.

The Technical Trainee Program is an entry-level program eligible to those who have completed an Advanced Diploma of Electronics and Communications (or equivalent). In February 2020, we recruited our first trainee to assist in capability development and succession management in our Field Operations team.

Workplace diversity and inclusion

We are committed to providing a supportive and respectful work environment that recognises, values and accommodates the diversity of our employees and represents the Australian community we serve. We recognise and value individual differences and are working towards creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace, including by:

  • acknowledging and encouraging diversity in organisational and individual performance plans
  • integrating workplace diversity principles into everyday management practice
  • including information in induction material
  • providing information to all staff through the agency’s intranet.

As part of our ongoing commitment to a supportive workplace, we are embracing a greater focus on gender equality. The ACMA Gender Equality Strategy 2017–20 aims to identify and address gender imbalance and unconscious bias that may be affecting equity and inclusiveness. This strategy will be reviewed and updated in line with our wider People Strategy.

The ACMA promotes diversity in the workplace through encouraging its EL1s and EL2s to participate in the Jawun APS Secondment Program, where staff spend six weeks with an Indigenous Australian organisation. We also celebrated National Reconciliation Week
(27 May – 3 June), a highlight was one of our most-read intranet posts from our first
Indigenous graduate, sharing what reconciliation means to them.

Disability reporting

The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promoting participation and creating 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 disabilities are faring. Further information can be found on the Department of Social Services’ website at dss.gov.au.

Ethical standards

During the reporting period, we continued to promote the importance of ethical standards through our Accountable Authority Instructions (AAIs), People Management Instructions (PMIs) and training programs.

Each year employees are required to undertake refresher training on important ethical responsibilities, with online privacy awareness, and health and safety training a focus in 2019–20. Refresher training was also held for authorised officers under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013. A new PMI on workplace behaviour and review was published after employee consultation, which included the Public Interest Disclosure scheme, APS Code of Conduct and APS Review of Action processes.

All new employees are required to undertake online training on the APS Values and principles as part of their induction. Adherence to the ACMA and APS Values and APS Code of Conduct is a mandatory expectation and included in all performance agreements.

Additional harassment contact officers were appointed this year and completed training and an orientation program before commencing in their role.

Health and safety

We are committed to safeguarding the health and safety of our staff, visitors and the public. We are committed to:

  • preventing accidents and ill-health caused by working conditions
  • protecting staff from any health hazard that may arise out of their work or the conditions in which it is carried out
  • consulting with employees and other duty-holders (for example, the employers of contractors)
  • placing and maintaining staff in an occupational environment designed to satisfy their health, safety and wellbeing needs.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, specific actions were undertaken to ensure we maintained the health and safety of our staff. These actions included:

  • monitoring and communicating advice from government sources to staff
  • incorporating health and safety controls and treatments into the COVID-19 risk register
  • using risk assessments for vulnerable workers
  • conducting an independent workplace assessment to ensure our workplaces were as safe as reasonably practicable
  • developing transition plans and principles for teams to guide movement between working from home and the office
  • providing guidance to staff on working safely from home
  • developing track and trace contingency plans and reports so we are aware of the location of our staff at all times
  • enhancing the functionality of the HR Information Management System to create an alert distribution system to inform employees of any outbreaks in workplaces
  • enhancing communications on personal support, such as helpline services and wellbeing resources
  • undertaking well-being checks on isolated or vulnerable staff
  • consulting with staff through a combined extraordinary meeting of the National Consultative Forum and the National Health and Safety Committee in June 2020
  • developing a domestic and family violence policy.

Health and safety information is provided to all new staff through our induction program and staff are required to complete work health and safety online training on a regular basis. We also provide:

  • activities and information during ‘health month’
  • influenza vaccinations
  • assistance with costs associated with eye-testing and buying glasses for screen-based use
  • access to the Employee Assistance Program.

During the reporting period, we undertook the following WHS compliance activities:

  • introducing a due diligence checklist to assist Officers in meeting their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • commencing a review of our Work Health and Safety Management System
  • risk assessments for identified health and safety hazards to mitigate injury or illness.

No notifiable incidents were reported to Comcare, no work health and safety investigations were conducted, and no notices were given to the ACMA under Part 10 of the Work Health and Safety Act.

Capability development

To enhance leadership capability across the ACMA, a Leadership Development Program was developed and rolled out as part of a wider Leadership Development Framework. The first program delivered was ‘Managing Corporate Responsibilities’, which provided training to all employees on their governance, risk, finance, ICT, procurement and human resource responsibilities. This program commenced in February 2020 and was delivered using a combination of face-to-face and e-learning with ACMA’s subject matter experts. In response to the global pandemic, the delivery mode was changed to a virtual environment in March 2020. As at 30 June 2020, 25 percent of our workforce had attended the sessions.

The remaining four programs under the Leadership Development Program will be rolled out to the Executive Level 1, Executive Level 2 and Senior Executive Service cohorts from the end of 2020 onwards.

The ACMA’s net expenditure in 2019–20 for employee learning and development was $630,097 (excluding GST). This figure includes staff attendance at general training, conferences and seminars; study assistance; and the Leadership Development Framework’s Managing Corporate Responsibilities and Leadership Development programs. Staff attended a range of learning and development activities, from public service writing courses to industry-related conferences.

During the year, 16 employees were supported under our studies assistance program, undertaking tertiary qualifications in specialised fields such as law, business, social work and information technology.

Enterprise agreement

The ACMA Agreement sets out the terms and conditions of employment for non-SES employees. It came into effect on 1 November 2017 and has a nominal expiry date of 31 October 2020.

Non-salary benefits for non-SES employees may include a free, confidential employee assistance program for employees and their immediate family; airline club membership for frequent travellers; studies assistance to eligible employees; public transport assistance scheme; and reimbursement of relevant professional association membership fees, some costs associated with vacation childcare, loss or damage to clothing or personal effects and annual influenza immunisation costs.

The Chair advised employees of her intention to bargain for a new ACMA Agreement and a Notice of Representational Rights was issued to employees on 25 June 2020.

Consultation and workplace relations

Staff consultative forums are established under the ACMA Agreement.

The National Work Health and Safety Committee provides a consultative forum to consider issues that need to be addressed at an organisational level (see ‘Health and safety’).

The National Consultative Forum (NCF) deals primarily with the key strategic and change issues that affect the ACMA. Convened by the ACMA Chair, it comprises management, union and employee representatives. The NCF met on four occasions during the reporting period, including a joint extraordinary meeting of the NCF and National Work Health and Safety Committee on 3 June 2020.

The extraordinary meeting was held for the Chair and General Manager, Corporate and Research Division to brief members of both peak staff consultative forums on the ACMA’s COVID-safe Transition Plan and Principles, the implementation of the plan and actions taken to ensure a safe return for employees to the workplace. Minutes of each meeting were made available to staff via the intranet.

We participate in the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service employee census, which enables us to collect employee feedback to help develop strategies to address specific workforce issues. Seventy-six per cent of ACMA staff participated in the 2019 census.

Financial management

The ACMA continues to enhance our financial management, with a focus on appropriately resourcing our key activities. During 2019–20, our reporting frameworks improved access to, and the provision of, quality financial information for internal and external stakeholders.

We continued reviewing key areas within the financial management remit so that our processes align with legislative changes and best practice. We met all statutory budgeting and reporting requirements and deadlines as set by the Department of Finance and the Treasury.

Key achievements during the year included:

  • more closely aligning financial budgeting and reporting with the agency’s performance planning and reporting framework
  • providing tailored finance support to budget delegates through a maturing finance manager function and the rollout of finance specific training under the Managing Corporate Responsibilities program
  • further improving accessibility to the financial management information system.

The ACMA’s financial statements for 2019–20 were prepared in accordance with section 42 of the PGPA Act. The Australian National Audit Office is given full access to all records and premises to enable it to perform its role and issued an unmodified audit opinion on the ACMA’s 2019–20 financial statements and notes (see Appendix 14 of this report).

Income collected on behalf of government

The ACMA collects revenue on behalf of the Australian Government through broadcasting, radiocommunications and telecommunications taxes, levies, fees and charges. We also administer non-regular income from spectrum auctions. All administered revenue collected by the ACMA, including cost recovery, is returned to the government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

In 2019–20, we administered $1,415.2 million in income (2018–19: $705.0 million) (see Figure 1.4). The $710.4 million variance from the prior year includes 3.6 GHz spectrum access licences recognised as a gain and a rebate provided to commercial broadcasters for a majority of commercial broadcasting licence taxes, as announced by the Minister for Communications,
Cyber Safety and the Arts.

Figure 1.4: Administered income  2015–16 835,266,000, 2016–17 1,008,213,000, 2017–18 3,608,128,000, 2018–19 691,556,000 2019–20 1,415,245,000.

Resource taxes and charges

The use of Australian resources by industry attracts various taxes and charges.

The administration of taxes, levies, fees and charges plays a key role in the planning, allocation and effective use of public resources. Table 1.15 lists these revenue items administered on behalf of government.

Table 1.15 Resource taxes and charges

Description

Revenue in 2019–20 ($m)

Revenue in
2018–19 ($m)

Telecommunication Industry Levy

261.9

253.9

Apparatus licence tax

149.6

231.2

Commercial broadcast tax

37.0

104.6

Annual numbering charge

60.0

60.0

Total taxes

508.5

649.7

Telecommunications Industry Levy

The Telecommunications Industry Levy (TIL) is imposed under Division 6 of Part 2 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999. A combination of funds raised under the TIL and dedicated government funding continues to be used to meet the costs of service contracts to deliver universal service obligations, the National Relay Service, emergency call services and other public policy telecommunications outcomes. The contracts and grants are administered by the Department.

The Secretary of the Department establishes the overall levy target each year. The total levy is allocated to participating carriers based on the ACMA’s assessment of their eligible revenue.

Apparatus licence taxes

The ACMA imposes a tax on behalf of the government for the issue of radiocommunications apparatus licences to support the efficient use of spectrum and recover the indirect costs of spectrum management. The tax is calculated by a formula that makes fees consistent, equitable and transparent. The formula encourages efficiency by making taxes higher in congested locations and spectrum bands, so taxes are proportional to the bandwidth and give discounts for low power.

In the second half of 2019–20, we released a consultation paper outlining our funding principles for administrative pricing, and a work program outlining a change to apparatus licence taxes. We expect to undertake a work program associated with the implementation of the Spectrum Pricing Review in 2020 and 2021. Details of the apparatus licence taxes and charging arrangements are in the Apparatus licence fee schedule—April 2020, available on the ACMA website.

Commercial broadcast tax

The commercial broadcasting transmitter licence tax arrangements involve taxes being assessed on commercial radio and commercial television transmitter licences that are associated with a broadcast service licence. The amount of tax assessed for each transmitter licence is based on the frequency band, location and power emissions of the transmitter.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister made the Commercial Broadcasting (Tax) (Transmitter Licence Tax Rebate) Rules 2020, which applies for a 12-month period from 14 February 2020. Commercial broadcasters were therefore entitled to a rebate for the majority of commercial broadcasting transmitter licence taxes imposed. This reduced the amount of commercial broadcasting transmitter licence tax collected by the ACMA in 2019–20.

Annual numbering charges

On behalf of the government, the ACMA collects an annual numbering charge (ANC), set at $60 million per annum, from CSPs that hold telephone numbers.

CSPs are liable for the charges based on the numbers they hold on a specified census date, which in 2019–20 was 5 April 2020.

In 2019–20, the base number charge for a 10-digit number was $0.614628162561528.
Using the opportunity-cost methodology applied in previous years, nine-digit numbers were charged at $6.14628162561528, eight-digit numbers at $61.4628162561528 and so on.
No numbers incurred the maximum cost of $100,000 allowable under the
Telecommunications (Numbering Charges) Act 1997.

Numbers used for incoming-only international services, internal network services and testing services were subject to a reduced rate of charge. Geographic numbers (numbers starting with area codes such as 02, 03, 07 and 08) allocated to a CSP to provide a standard telephone service to a customer are exempt from the charge.

Cost recovery charges

In accordance with the Australian Government’s Charging Framework, we recover the costs of regulating the telecommunications industry. Revenue raised by the ACMA from cost recovery is shown in Table 1.16.

Table 1.16 Cost recovery charges

Description

Revenue in 2019–20 ($m)

Revenue in 2018–19 ($m)

Annual Carrier Licence Charge

31.1

31.2

Other cost recovery

8.4

5.9

Total charges

39.5

37.1

The Annual Carrier Licence Charge (ACLC) is imposed under the Telecommunications (Carrier Licence Charges) Act 1997 on participating carriers to recover the cost incurred by the ACMA, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Department for regulating the telecommunications industry. The total charge is allocated using the same eligible revenue assessments utilised for the TIL.
In 2019–20, other cost recovery charges ($8.4 million) noted in Table 1.16 comprised $4.2 million recovered through radiocommunications fees, $1.2 million for the direct costs of operating the DNCR, $0.9 million recovered on behalf of the Postal Industry Ombudsman, and $2.1 million for other fee for service items.

Other administered revenue

The revenue identified in Table 1.17 mainly consists of fees and fines that primarily relate to infringement notices issued following investigations conducted by the ACMA. The 2019–20 amount includes an infringement notice of $1,003,800 issued to the Woolworths Group Pty Ltd for sending email marketing messages to consumers after they had unsubscribed. Our investigation and enforcement activities are discussed in the Annual Performance Statement.

Table 1.17 Other administered revenue

Description

Revenue in 2019–20 ($m)

Revenue in 2018–19 ($m)

Unwinding of discount

2.5

13.5

Fines and penalties

2.0

0.6

Other revenue

0.0

4.1

Total charges

4.5

18.2

Administered gains

The gains identified in Table 1.18 mainly consists of income related to the proceeds from the sale of 3.6 GHz spectrum access licences recognised as a gain under AASB 138 Intangible Assets, and subsequently as a finance lease under AASB 16 Leases.

Table 1.18 Administered gains

Description

Gain in
2019–20 ($m)

Gain in
2018–19 ($m)

Resources received free of charge (spectrum licences)

852.9

0.0

Reversal of write-downs and impairment

9.9

0.0

Total charges

862.8

0.0

Procurement and contract management

The ACMA’s approach to procurement activity is driven by the core principles of the Commonwealth’s financial management framework. The framework encourages competition, value for money, transparency and accountability, as well as the efficient, effective, ethical and economical use of Commonwealth resources.

During 2019–20, we continued to enhance our procurement and contract management capability by conducting staff training as part of a broader Managing Corporate Responsibilities program. Additionally, ongoing revisions are made to our resource materials to accommodate legislative changes in Commonwealth procurement policy. The ACMA met the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPR) for all procurements.

Consultants

The ACMA and eSafety engages consultants to provide specialised services when the capability or capacity to perform these in-house is not available, or where there is a requirement for independent advice.

The policy for selecting and engaging consultants is in accordance with the CPR and based on the core principle of achieving value for money. The majority of consultants were engaged following an open approach to market and use of panel arrangements. The main categories for consultancies in 2019–20 were legal advice and research.

During 2019–20, 77 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $1,734,334. In addition, 38 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $ 1,835,249.

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 at tenders.gov.au.

Table 1.19 Number and expenditure on new consultancy contracts, 2019–20

Number

Total expenditure ($ incl. GST)

ACMA

58

1,030,174

eSafety

19

704,160

Total

77

1,734,334

Table 1.20 Number and expenditure on ongoing consultancy contracts, 2019–20

Number

Total expenditure ($ incl. GST)

ACMA

26

1,338,880

eSafety

12

496,369

Total

38

1,835,249

Table 1.21 Total expenditure on consultancy contracts, 2017–18 to 2019–20

Year

New consultancies

Continued consultancies

2017–18

$2,783,350

$670,600

2018–19

$1,784,768*

$1,942,089

2019–20

$1,734,334

$1,835,249

* This figure has been restated from that published in the Annual report 2018–19 to remove duplicated consultancy expenditure.

Contractors

The ACMA and eSafety engage contractors to perform day-to-day duties under its direction and supervision. The policy for selecting and engaging contractors, including the use of standing panel arrangements, is in accordance with the CPRs and based on the core principle of achieving value for money.

Table 1.22 Total expenditure on contractors, 2017–18 to 2019–20

Year

ACMA ($ incl GST)

eSafety ($ incl GST)

Total

2017–18

$4,315,275

$6,192,521

$10,507,796

2018–19

$4,929,890

$6,959,270

$11,889,160

2019–20

$5,031,149

$8,543,431

$13,574,580

Note: This table includes both administered and departmental expenditure on contractors.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

The ACMA supports small business and Indigenous participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market, consistent with the CPR. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and Indigenous participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

We recognise the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time and implement efficient and timely receipting and payment practices to ensure that supplier payments are made within 20 calendar days or fewer. The results of the Australian Government’s Pay On-Time survey performance are available on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources website, industry.gov.au.

Our procurement practices support SMEs, consistent with paragraph 5.4 of the CPR, by adopting initiatives or practices including:

  • use of the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
  • Australian Industry Participation Plans in whole-of-government procurement, where applicable
  • the Small Business Engagement Principles (outlined in the government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda), such as communicating in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format
  • electronic systems or other processes used to facilitate on-time payment performance, including the use of payment cards.
Competitive tendering

No contracts have been let for the delivery of government activities previously performed by a Commonwealth agency.

Access by Auditor-General

No contracts have been let that prevent access by the Auditor-General.

Exemptions from reporting of Commonwealth contracts

No exemptions have been sought or granted for the non-reporting of Commonwealth contracts on AusTender.

Grant programs

Information on grants awarded by the ACMA under the Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund during 2019–20 is available at grants.gov.au and in Appendix 7 of this report.

Asset management

The ACMA’s asset management procedures and policies reflect relevant legislation and best practice. Major asset categories include land, buildings, leasehold improvements, plant, equipment and intangibles such as software that is either developed in-house or bought from third-party vendors. Assets are valued at fair value, with their carrying values and useful lives being reviewed annually. With the implementation of the new accounting standard on leases, AASB 16 Leases, the ACMA also recognises a right-of-use asset for its major office leases.

At the end of 2019–20, the ACMA had a total value of $78.7 million in net nonfinancial assets (excluding pre-payments).

Property management

The ACMA’s property portfolio includes leased, licensed and Commonwealth-owned premises, ranging from office accommodation in the major capital cities to small radio monitoring sites at remote locations. Despite the impact of COVID-19, we are continuing to review our office accommodation in accordance with the Commonwealth Property Management Framework and recommendations from the ACMA Strategic Accommodation Plan, including:

  • ensuring office accommodation and layout supports the workforce during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
  • reducing our accommodation footprint, consistent with the government occupational density target, through the negotiation of new commercial lease terms and conditions
  • pursuing co-location opportunities associated with a whole-of-government approach to strategic decision making
  • developing efficient and effective space utilisation solutions
  • disposal of ACMA-owned property surplus to our requirements.

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

In 2019–20, we continued our commitment to ecologically sustainable development (ESD) through a methodical approach to planning, implementing and monitoring our environmental performance through programs and policies that are in accordance with current legislation, whole-of-government requirements and environmental best practice.

Environmental impact of our operations

The Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) Policy contains minimum energy performance standards for Australian Government office buildings as a strategy for achieving energy targets. This ensures that entities progressively improve their performance through the procurement and ongoing management of energy efficient office buildings and environmentally sound equipment and appliances.

As part of our strategic accommodation planning, we undertake to meet the requirements of the Green Lease Schedule. This provides that for tenancies of greater than 2,000 m2 and with a lease term greater than two years, the accommodation will meet:

  • the ‘A’ grade standard of the Building Owners and Managers Association International guidelines
  • a minimum National Australian Built Environment Rating System rating of 4.5 stars.
Energy consumption

The ACMA is required to meet the target of no more than 7,500 megajoules (MJ) per person, per annum, for office tenant light and power under the EEGO Policy. In 2019–20, we met this target, using 6,894 MJ per person, per annum.

This achievement reflects our efforts to reduce energy consumption in our leased property portfolio through technology such as:

  • T5 fluorescent and movement-activated sensor lighting
  • double glazed windows
  • energy efficient heating
  • ventilation
  • air-conditioning systems.

We also encouraged staff participation in Earth Hour 2020 by switching off non-essential building lights, terminals, monitors and office equipment at all of its properties around Australia.

Figure 1.5: ACMA electricity consumption  2107-15 7,500, 2018-19 7,500, 2019-20 7,500.

Vehicle fleet management

In 2019–20, we operated 13 vehicles, which travelled a total of 209,859 kilometres, resulting in an energy consumption of approximately 4.25MJ/km. During the year, we began the process of renewing our fleet, with a focus on energy consumption as well as price.

Waste management

We are committed to protecting the environment through the implementation of efficient and effective waste management programs including segregated waste streams to improve the management of general waste, comingled recycling and cardboard and paper recycling. The ACMA’s aim is to increase the amount of recycled waste as a proportion of total waste.

The increasing uptake of digital record-keeping by the ACMA has, however, seen a reduction in office paper consumption, which in turn has led to reduction in paper recycling.

Additional material recycling efforts include the recycling of printer and toner cartridges, batteries, and mobile phones to ensure these items are diverted from landfill and used in sustainable programs.

We continue to champion existing environmental management initiatives including:

  • using video conferencing as a sustainable alternative to travel
  • reducing unnecessary printing by requiring a two-stage printing activation through our cloud-based printing system
  • using 100 per cent recycled copy paper
  • implementing forced ’out-of-hours’ computer terminal shutdown
  • using sensor lighting in offices, with a timer mechanism switching lighting off when rooms are not occupied
  • producing environmentally sustainable communications products, including using alternatives to paper products and forms whenever possible.

Security

All statutory reporting requirements were met in 2019–20, including mandatory participation in
the Protective Security Policy Framework compliance reporting, conducted by the Attorney-General’s Department.

Corporate support services provided by the ACMA to eSafety

To assist eSafety, the ACMA provides the following services:

  • finance and accounting
  • procurement and contract management
  • accommodation and facilities
  • human resource management
  • information and communications technology
  • legal services.

Legal

Freedom of information  

The ACMA is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), which requires agencies to publish information as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS), under Part II of the FOI Act. Information on the ACMA’s IPS, including our agency plan, can be found on the ACMA website at acma.gov.au.

The agency plan provides a description of, and links to, the categories of information that we are required to publish, as well as information on other material that we voluntarily publish. Further information can be obtained using the contact details provided in the agency plan.

FOI details relating to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner can be found under ‘Accountability arrangements’ in Part 2—Office of the eSafety Commissioner annual report 2019–20.

Sunsetting

During 2019–20, we continued the work that flows from the ‘sunsetting’ regime in the
Legislation Act 2003 (LA). Under the sunsetting provisions of the LA, most of the legislative instruments made by Commonwealth agencies such as the ACMA ‘sunset’ (are automatically repealed) 10 years after they are first registered as law.

In the reporting period, five instruments were due to sunset. Of those, two instruments were automatically repealed, and we revoked and replaced one instrument prior to the instrument’s sunset date. The sunset dates for two instruments were deferred to 1 April 2021 and 1 October 2021, respectively.

Directions and instruments 

Section 57 of the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005 (ACMA Act) requires copies of certain directions and instruments to be included in the ACMA’s annual report, including directions given to us by the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts (the Minister) under section 14 of the ACMA Act, and instruments (directions) given by us to a carrier or carriage service provider under section 581 of the Telecommunications Act during the financial year.

Additionally, section 67 of the ACMA Act requires us to maintain a register of all directions given to us under that Act or any other Act. The register is published on the ACMA website.

Between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, the ACMA was given one direction by the Minister under section 14 of the ACMA Act. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (Modifications to Apparatus and Spectrum Licences Taxes) Direction 2020 (F2020L00590) was made on 15 May 2020 and registered on 19 May 2020. A copy of this direction can be accessed on the Federal Register of Legislation at legislation.gov.au.

The ACMA did not give any directions during the financial year under section 581
of the Telecommunications Act.

Regulatory impact analysis compliance report

The Office of Best Practice Regulation manages and monitors regulatory impact analysis requirements and is required to report annually on regulatory impact compliance by Australian Government departments and agencies.

In 2019–20, the ACMA undertook 23 preliminary assessments, two independent reviews and one regulatory impact statement as a result of a Ministerial Direction for regulations to be made or tabled.