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Corporate governance

Key committee framework

In late 2019, in response to the findings of both the Ernst & Young review of the AFP’s structure and operating model, and the Review into the AFP’s Response to and Management of Sensitive Investigations (Lawler Review), the current AFP governance structure was streamlined to increase the link between strategy and performance, and align with the new organisational structure and imperatives. This approach emphasises supporting strategic decision-making and governance in line with the Commissioner’s intent, particularly the reduction of red tape, the facilitation of faster decision-making, and an emphasis on data-driven performance monitoring. The previous committee structure ceased operating in December 2019, with the new arrangements commencing from January 2020.

The Strategy and Performance Board (SPB) is the AFP’s principal governing body, ensuring that the strategic intent of the AFP is matched by the required level of organisational performance. Strategic direction will be adapted in line with emerging operational and policy challenges and informed by evidence-based performance monitoring.

The Commissioner’s Advisory Panel (CAP) provides independent, non-binding strategic advice to the AFP Commissioner on non-operational matters. The CAP assists the AFP Commissioner to navigate the AFP’s external environment and engage key stakeholders.

The Senior Leadership Committee (SLC) delivers strategic outcomes, based on the performance standards set by the SPB. It monitors and reflects on changes in the operating environment and recommends adjustments to strategy to maintain organisational momentum and performance.

In addition to the SPB and SLC, the AFP governance framework is supported by three portfolio-level boards, which deliver on the strategy and priorities outlined by the SPB.

The Resource Management Board provides advice to the Commissioner and the SPB on the management of AFP business resources to meet strategic and operational priorities. This includes national coordination on strategic workforce, finance and budgetary matters.

The Investigations and Operations Board provides joint strategic oversight of the AFP’s investigations and operations, including direction on crime and operational strategies and priorities, and on the AFP’s responses to emerging threats and changes in the criminal environment. It ensures that there is national and international coordination on investigations and that operational resources are aligned with strategic priorities.

The Capability Board advises the Commissioner and the SPB on the AFP’s current and future capability requirements in support of the AFP’s vision and strategic priorities, to ensure the AFP is an effective and innovative capability-led organisation.

Our committee framework is shown at Figure 4.1.

Figure 4.1 AFP key committee framework A diagram with the Commissioner at the top and two tiers of committees below that. The first row includes the Commissioner's Advisory Panel, the Strategy and Performance Board as well as the Audit and Risk Committee. The second row includes the Strategic Leadership Committee and three portfolio-level boards; the Resource Management Board, Investigations and Operations Board and the Capability Board.

Corporate planning and reporting

The AFP Corporate Plan sets out our purpose, priorities, environmental context, activities, performance measurement methods and management approach to risk engagement. It guides us in achieving the results we have targeted. We update our Corporate Plan every year, ensuring it aligns with the legislative requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (PGPA Act), the accompanying Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule) and revisions to the AFP Ministerial Directions.

Along with the AFP Portfolio Budget Statements and annual performance statement, the Corporate Plan is an integral part of our performance management and reporting cycle.

Progress and performance against our performance criteria as detailed in the AFP Corporate Plan 2019–20 appear in this report in Chapter 3, ‘Annual performance statement’.

Internal audit

The AFP delivers an annual Internal Audit Program that takes into consideration agency-wide and organisational business unit risks, previous and proposed Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) coverage, previous internal audit coverage and new initiatives. The program is approved by the Commissioner and is delivered using in-house and external resources.

The AFP Audit Committee met seven times during 2019–20 and considered 15 internal audit reports. Key areas examined by internal audits during 2019–20 included:

  • access to and use of AFP information
  • operational capabilities
  • program management
  • property.

The Audit and Risk Committee monitors the progress of recommendations listed in internal audit and ANAO reports, through regular reporting. The Audit Committee Charter determines its functions. A copy of the charter is available from www.afp.gov.au/about-us/information-publication-scheme.

Table 4.1 Audit and Risk Committee membership and attendance, 2019–20

Member name

Qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience

Number of meetings attended / total number of meetings

Total annual remuneration

Mark Ridley

Mark Ridley has served as the chair of audit committees for the AFP, the Australian Financial Security Authority, the Royal Australian Mint and private entities such as CO2CRC Ltd. Mark has also served as a member of the audit and risk committees for other Commonwealth entities such as the Department of Defence, the Australian National University, the Australian Electoral Commission, the Department of Human Services (Services Australia), the Department of Home Affairs and the Clean Energy Regulator.

Mark was previously a senior partner with over 20 years’ experience at chartered accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, holding leadership roles with the firm in risk management and assurance.



Carol Lilley

Carol Lilley has held numerous audit committee roles for both the Commonwealth and ACT governments as well as being a special assurance advisor on the Commonwealth whole-of-government financial statements. Carol has held board positions for the Australian Financial Security Authority and private sector entities.

Carol was a partner at chartered accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, with 20 years’ experience providing financial statement and internal audits, accounting advice and risk management.



Philippa Godwin

Philippa Godwin PSM is a consultant providing advice in areas such as leadership, organisational design and public sector management. Philippa retired from the Commonwealth Public Service in 2013 after a career of almost 40 years in the areas of service delivery and design, program and organisational management, and change leadership and management.

Philippa’s roles in the Public Service included Deputy Secretary, Department of Human Services; Head of the Child Support Agency; and Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Acting Chief Executive Officer for Medicare Australia. In 2010 Philippa was awarded the Public Service Medal for leading major organisational and cultural change in a range of departments and agencies.



Karl Kent

Karl Kent OAM held the position of AFP Deputy Commissioner, Specialist and Support Operations. Karl’s portfolio delivered the AFP’s technical, specialist and scientific services in support of agency operations and investigations activity.

Karl was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the 2002 Bali bombings investigation. Karl was a committee member for part of 2019–20.



Internal member

Leanne Close

Leanne Close APM held the position of AFP Deputy Commissioner, National Security. Leanne’s portfolio was responsible for the AFP’s Counter Terrorism and Protection Operations directorates and its subsidiary Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering.

Leanne was awarded the Australian Police Medal in 2005. Leanne was a committee member for part of 2019–20.



Internal Member

Sue Bird

Sue Bird held the position of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Risk Officer for the AFP. Sue led the corporate and enabling functions that supported the operations of the AFP. Prior to this role, Sue was the AFP’s Chief Counsel and National Manager Legal. Sue was a committee member for part of 2019–20.



Internal Member

Risk management

The AFP manages risks through its risk management framework. The framework enhances the quality of the AFP’s decisions in complex and dynamic environments and allows the AFP to consider emerging risks which may arise from developments in economic, technological, social, political or environmental factors, including community expectations. It provides the AFP with a mature basis for engaging and managing risk, contributing to innovation, efficiency and safety in the achievement of its objectives.

Throughout 2019–20 the AFP used the risk management framework reviewed and endorsed in 2018–19. Continuous improvement processes have identified some aspects of the framework which could be enhanced, and will feed into a formal review in 2020–21. Potential improvements based on lessons learned during the year largely relate to ensuring that systematic risk oversight is embedded into key committees and business processes of the AFP.

At the agency level, the AFP manages eight broad risks which directly relate to its ability to achieve its objectives. When engaged and managed well, these eight agency risks are also recognised as significant opportunities to enhance the AFP’s outcomes and contribute to policing for a safer Australia.

The eight agency-level risks relate to:

  • the health, safety and wellbeing of AFP appointees
  • AFP culture, standards and integrity
  • achievement of operational outcomes
  • partnerships and stakeholder engagement
  • the ongoing effectiveness of AFP capabilities
  • attracting, retaining, maintaining and effectively utilising a skilled workforce
  • effectively managing the AFP’s resources, including finances
  • effectively using, managing or protecting information.

In 2019 the AFP submitted a nomination for the 2019 Comcover Awards for Excellence in Risk Management in relation to work undertaken to enhance its risk culture. The AFP’s submission was shortlisted for the enterprise‑wide risk management category—for excellence in implementing risk management frameworks, practices and processes across the entity. Feedback from Comcover acknowledged the high calibre of shortlisted nominations and provided independent assurance on the AFP’s risk culture initiatives.

Fraud control

The AFP promotes a culture of ethical conduct and does not tolerate misconduct and, specifically, fraud and corruption. The AFP maintains a robust internal fraud control and anti-corruption framework designed to prevent, detect and respond to fraud and corruption.

As a Commonwealth entity, the AFP maintains a fraud control plan and conducts fraud assessments in compliance with section 10 of the PGPA Rule.

The AFP Fraud Control and Anti-Corruption (FCAC) Plan 2020 sets out our strategy for overall management of fraud and corruption risks within, and against, the agency. The FCAC Plan applies to all members, contractors and service providers, who are made aware of their individual roles and responsibilities in fraud and corruption prevention, detection and response. The FCAC Plan is consistent with the AFP’s professional standards framework.

Fraud and corruption risks are reviewed regularly. As part of its oversight and assurance role, the AFP Audit and Risk Committee monitors the progress and effectiveness of the implementation of the FCAC Plan.

Governance instrument framework

The governance instrument framework is a collection of AFP governance instruments (including Commissioner’s Orders and National Guidelines) and external agreements (including memoranda of understanding). It is available through an AFP intranet portal. The governance instrument framework contributes to the:

  • achievement of AFP operational and administrative outcomes, consistent with AFP values and the efficient and ethical use of Commonwealth funds and property
  • security of the AFP
  • professional standards of the AFP and procedures for addressing conduct issues established in Part V of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 (Cth) (AFP Act)
  • legal compliance of AFP appointees in discharging their duties, including responsibilities under the PGPA Act, Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) (WHS Act), Crimes Act 1900 (ACT), Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
  • management of risk
  • effective delegation of statutory authority and powers.

More information is available on the AFP’s Information Publication Scheme web page: www.afp.gov.au/ips.

Business continuity

The AFP has a well-developed business continuity management framework. The framework includes policies, systems and programs to assist the AFP to continue to operate effectively during unplanned disruptions to its staff, facilities, infrastructure or logistics. It assists in preventing, preparing for, responding to, managing and recovering from the impacts of a disruption. This framework was revised and updated during 2019–20 based on lessons learned when undertaking a live field exercise of the AFP’s business continuity arrangements in late 2019.

The AFP has an appointed business continuity committee which convenes as a decision-making body to assist AFP business activities to continue or recover in the event of disruption. The committee’s activities are focused on the recovery of business outcomes once the disruption is contained. It utilises the Incident Command and Control Structure Plus model to coordinate these activities. The committee is supported by systems and capabilities which facilitate decisions regarding critical business activities during disruption.

The AFP’s business continuity framework contributed to managing a number of disruptions in 2019–20, including bushfires and associated air quality hazards as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ecological sustainability

The AFP continues to be committed to ecological sustainability and to be recognised as a leader across both government and industry.

A picture of three people holding a certificate, in front of a banner for the City of Sydney.
One of many initiatives the AFP undertook nationally in 2019–20 to address its environmental sustainability was the CitySwitch program. CitySwitch is an organisation whose objective is to reduce the environmental impacts of commercial offices’ emissions from energy consumption and waste management. It showcases member organisations that have demonstrated environmental leadership and recognises those that have improved, maintained or achieved their National Australian Built Environment Rating System energy tenancy or whole building rating and have reported significant energy savings.

CitySwitch activities must be both successful in their application and useful as models for other organisations. In this regard, the work the AFP has done in reducing air conditioning energy use in its computer centres and offices and embracing energy-efficient lighting is viewed as government leading. Since rolling out its air conditioning recommissioning and efficiency program in October 2018, the AFP has seen a reduction of over 50 per cent in energy consumption attributed to these systems; this equates to approximately 480,000 kWh of annual energy.

In 2019 the AFP was Victorian signatory of the year and national runner-up in the CitySwitch category for offices over 2,000 m2. Underpinning these achievements was the AFP’s significant work to reduce energy consumption in data centre cooling, which clearly demonstrated the value of ecological sustainability.