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Corporate governance - principles and objectives

The AEC has the following structures in place to implement the principles and objectives of corporate governance:

  • an executive leadership team which monitors performance, ensures accountability and steers the agency
  • decision—making management committees—see Table 9: Audit committee, appendix B for a list as well as their functions and membership

Ethical standards

The AEC’s ethical standards are implicit in:

  • our values of electoral integrity through professionalism, agility and quality
  • the Australian Public Service ICARE values of impartiality, committed to service, accountable, respectful and ethical
  • our Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019, which reflects the values and ethical standards of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct
  • the AEC’s strategic planning framework and staff conduct policies

Internal audit

The Business Assurance Committee and the Internal Audit program oversee the AEC’s internal audit arrangements and approach. The committee provides independent assurance that the AEC’s risk management, governance and internal control processes are operating effectively. The scope, responsibilities and independence requirements for audit functions are in the AEC audit charter endorsed by this committee.

The charter is available on the AEC website at www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/Publications/audit-committee-charter.htm

Details of Business Assurance Committee members are in Appendix B: Governance.

External audit

The AEC participated in two performance audits during the year undertaken by the Australian National Audit Office:

  • Establishment and use of IT-related procurement panels and arrangements
  • Administration of financial disclosure requirements under the Electoral Act

Risk management

The AEC’s operating environment is complex.

It requires a workforce that is capable of managing the uncertainties that may impact the AEC’s ability to achieve its objectives. Considerable actions were undertaken throughout 2019–20 to further mature our risk capability, including:

  • implementing enterprise risk management software to build the AEC’s capability to manage and report on risk, and provide assurance that objectives are being met
  • providing risk management training across the agency
  • enhancing business continuity plans to enable timely responses to significant disruptions, while building organisational resilience to recover and resume business processes in the pandemic environment

We continue to build capability, enhance and shape our risk culture, and support organisational priorities and objectives. To support these corporate requirements, the AEC manages its risk through the following governance committees:

  • Executive Leadership Team
  • National Election Delivery Committee
  • Business Assurance Committee
  • Organisational Health Committee
  • Fraud Control Committee
  • Capability Committee

More information on committees is in Table 11: AEC management committees

We assess risk maturity by participating in Comcover’s risk management benchmarking survey, which is conducted every two years.

Fraud control

The AEC Fraud Control Plan highlights the low tolerance of fraud that is related to our operations and services. As required by section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, we have:

  • prepared fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans
  • appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, recording and reporting mechanisms that meet the AEC’s specific needs
  • taken all reasonable measures to deal with fraud appropriately

The AEC Fraud Control Plan outlines strategies to prevent, detect and respond to fraud, including prevention strategies for both corporate and electoral fraud. The Fraud Control Committee (see Table 11: AEC management committees, Appendix B: Governance) is responsible for monitoring AEC fraud controls.

The AEC examined all allegations of suspected fraud during the year, including complaints related to the 2019 federal election and 2020 Eden-Monaro by-election.

Information on reporting suspected fraud is available:

  • to staff through the intranet and mandatory fraud awareness training
  • for the public at www.aec.gov.au

Internal planning processes

The AEC’s corporate planning processes support corporate governance and are undertaken in line with the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The corporate plan, available on the AEC website, informs operational planning and performance, and is reflected in the AEC’s business planning documents. Internal reporting and mid-term performance assessments help track progress against performance criteria. Information on how the corporate plan contributes to specified outcomes is in our Annual performance statements.

Corporate planning documents—including internal monitoring and reporting mechanisms—are listed in Table 10: Business planning documents of appendix B.