What we did in 2019–20
The effective operation of key AEC governance committees is a priority, ensuring we remain focused on the agency’s vision and strategic direction. An annual survey of committee members was undertaken at the end of the financial year to inform upcoming priorities.
We maintained our focus on privacy management, including managing the personal information of 16.6 million Australian electors. The AEC’s Privacy Management Plan, in place since 2018, documents our privacy management approach in-line with the Australian Privacy Principles. In 2019–20 the AEC met all mandatory requirements under legislation, policy and applicable rules, and advanced from an overall maturity level of ‘developing’ to ‘defined’ in accordance with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s guidelines.
Our identified action plans targeted further maturity of privacy management principles, practices and activities, ensuring progress against each target was regularly monitored and reviewed.
Our risk management maturity is assessed through the Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Program. In 2019—the most recent survey—the AEC’s risk maturity continued to improve in key areas. The next survey is due in 2021. A new risk management system was launched and risk training was delivered to senior management and executive level staff.
Actions from the AEC’s 2019 annual assessment of our security capability were progressed based on our risk environment and risk tolerances. This helps protect our people, information and assets in line with the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF). Guidance was updated and a stronger security culture is being promoted through corporate messaging and awareness. The 2020 survey is due in August.
Our information management maturity continued to improve. This is assessed annually against the National Archives of Australia’s Digital Continuity 2020 policy, using Check-up PLUS. During the year, we released a new strategic framework to manage information and data to ensure we are aligned with whole of government digital transformation policies. We continued to embed a new electronic records management system.
We increased our business intelligence capability to support effective decision-making, and to build a strong evidence base for electoral management. This included:
- providing key data and statistics to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into the 2019 federal election and the 2019 Electoral Pocketbook
- establishing data governance
- developing a range of management and AEC business area dashboards to support evidence-based decision-making
We met our ASL target mandated in the Portfolio Budget Statements, but have reported an operating loss in 2019–20. This is because of a misalignment of external funding for the federal election, and ongoing pressure on business as usual funding over multiple financial years. The Finance Minister has approved the AEC’s operating loss for 2019–20.
The AEC is working with the Department of Finance on a funding review to consider future resourcing levels and long-term financial sustainability. In April 2020 we introduced a new financial management system to improve financial visibility across the agency and assist with cross agency financial management.