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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 15: AEC management committees for a list as well as their functions and membership.

Diagram showing AEC values. Through professionalism, quality and agility we achieve electoral integrity.

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 Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the Electoral Commissioner. Its functions include reviewing the appropriateness of the AEC’s financial reporting, performance reporting, system of risk oversight and management, and system of internal control.

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

Audit Committee membership is 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 capable of managing uncertainties that may impact the AEC’s ability to achieve its objectives. Considerable actions were undertaken throughout 2020–21 to further mature our risk capability, including:

  • continuing to embed enterprise risk management software designed 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 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 Operations and Readiness Committee
  • Audit Committee
  • Organisational Health, Performance and Risk Committee
  • Electoral Integrity Committee
  • Investment, Change and People Strategy Committee
  • Education and Engagement Committee.

More information on committees is at Table 15: 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 agency’s low tolerance of fraud in its operations and services. As required by section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA 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 Fraud Control Plan outlines strategies to prevent, detect and respond to fraud, including prevention strategies for both corporate and electoral fraud. The Electoral Integrity Committee (see Table 15: AEC management committees) is responsible for providing governance and assurance over the AEC’s Fraud Control Plan. The AEC examined all allegations of suspected fraud during the year, including complaints relating to the Eden-Monaro and Groom by-elections.

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 PGPA Act. 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 measures. Information on how the corporate plan contributes to specified outcomes is in our performance statement.

Corporate planning documents, including internal monitoring and reporting mechanisms, are listed in Table 14: Business planning documents of appendix B.