Go to top of page

Management and accountability

The Commission

The ATSB is governed by a Commission, comprising a Chief Commissioner and three part-time Commissioners.

The Commission provides guidance on the selection of accidents and other safety incidents to be investigated. The Commission is responsible for exercising the power to publish reports of accident investigations. It also supports the ATSB in encouraging safety action ahead of final reports, thus reducing the need to issue safety recommendations.

The Commission operates within the corporate governance framework of the ATSB Commission Governance Manual. The manual sets out the Commission’s legislative requirements, parliamentary and ministerial accountability, membership and functions, administrative policies and procedures, and reporting obligations.

The Commission meets at least four times a year and manages ATSB business through regular teleconferences and electronic communications in accordance with its obligations under the TSI Act and its agreed policies.

Senior Leadership Team

During 2020–21, the ATSB Senior Leadership Team (SLT) met fortnightly to discuss strategic management issues and priorities. The SLT consisted of the Chief Commissioner, the Chief Operating Officer, the Directors Transport Safety and the Heads of Operational Support.

Audit and Risk Committee

The Audit and Risk Committee provides independent assurance and advice to the Chief Commissioner (and to the Commission and SLT) on the ATSB’s financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, and system of internal control. The Audit and Risk Committee consists of an independent chair, an independent member and an ATSB management nominee. The Committee held four meetings throughout the financial year, in September and December 2020, and March and June 2021.

In 2020–21, the Committee advised and provided assurance on a range of matters including the ATSB’s:

  • Internal Audit Annual Program
  • enterprise risk management, fraud control and business continuity frameworks
  • performance reporting
  • financial statement preparations
  • work health and safety management
  • compliance with the PGPA Act and the associated Rule
  • internal audit governance framework – including the Internal Audit Charter and Internal Audit Strategic Plan 2020–23.

The internal audit program for 2020–21 focused on assuring the ATSB’s legislative compliance and performance against its core functions including a review of funding model arrangements.

The Audit and Risk Committee continues to monitor the implementation of the recommendations coming out of the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) efficiency audit of the ATSB in 2018–19. A copy of the Audit and Risk Committee Charter is available on the ATSB website at www.atsb.gov.au.

Business planning and reporting

Each year, the ATSB develops an Annual Plan to set business objectives for the financial year. The Annual Plan is consistent with the strategic direction provided through the Corporate Plan, published on the ATSB website. The Annual Plan incorporates the operational priorities, activities, deliverables and key performance indicators for the financial year.

The ATSB Annual Plan 2020–21 gave priority to:

  • independent investigation of transport accidents and other safety occurrences, and research
  • implementing systems and programs enabling greater efficiency and effectiveness
  • strategic projects
  • further embedding governance and assurance processes
  • enhancing stakeholder engagement.

Risk management

Consistent with the PGPA Act, the ATSB maintains a risk management framework. The framework includes a Risk Management Policy, Risk Management Strategy, Risk Management Plan and Enterprise Risk Register. The framework is an integral element of the ATSB’s broader governance, planning and management framework. The ATSB has integrated risk assessment and mitigation into business practices, planning and performance reporting – at both corporate and business unit levels.

The ATSB is committed to a comprehensive, coordinated and systematic approach to the management of risk – directed towards supporting managers at all levels to anticipate and plan for risk, and to respond appropriately. For 2020–21, the ATSB focused on risks related to capability, reputation, health and safety, and jurisdictional reach.

During 2020–21, the ATSB implemented a new risk management framework and software-supported risk management system for undertaking risk assessments.

Business continuity plan

The ATSB’s business continuity management framework details the policies and procedures for the agency to respond to a business disruption. The framework ensures the ATSB is well placed to implement recovery processes and return to business‑as‑usual as quickly as possible while preserving the safety of staff and limiting the damage and disruption to business operations.

Fraud control

In accordance with the PGPA Act, the ATSB maintains a fraud management framework which includes a Fraud Policy and Strategy Statement and a Fraud Control Plan.

The ATSB manages a fraud risk register to identify potential fraud risks and subsequently minimise the incidence of fraud. This process is accompanied by development, implementation and regular assessment of fraud prevention, detection and response strategies.

The ATSB’s staff awareness program incorporates activities for existing and new staff.

The Audit and Risk Committee and the Commission receives reports on fraud risks and the implementation of controls and treatments.

Ethical standards

During the reporting period, the ATSB continued to demonstrate its commitment to promoting ethical standards and behaviours relating to workplace and employment.

Initiatives for 2020–21 included:

  • providing information on the APS values, Employment Principles and Code of Conduct in induction packages and during training sessions
  • promoting the APS Values, Employment Principles and Code of Conduct through individual performance development plans
  • providing staff with access to information on ethical standards via the ATSB’s intranet and the Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) website
  • providing staff with guidance on Public Interest Disclosure policy and procedures
  • ensuring all staff review their conflict of interest declarations twice a year
  • providing staff with information and guidance on bullying and harassment policy and procedures
  • providing staff with training on the ATSB’s fraud control policy and procedures and acceptance of gifts and benefits policy
  • promoting the APS Values, Employment Principles and Code of Conduct in recruitment and selection activity.

Staff management

The ATSB’s workforce planning approach ensured we had a flexible workforce and were able to recognise the immediate and emerging capabilities required to respond to business requirements.

During 2020–21, the ATSB continued to dedicate time and resources to supporting our people through the coronavirus pandemic. The ATSB recognised the critical role of our senior leaders and managers to maintain regular connections with staff, encourage staff to keep themselves and their families safe, and support access to a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as was advisable.

Initiatives for 2020–21 included:

  • regular performance and career conversations throughout the performance and development cycle
  • leadership development and coaching skills for managers
  • health and wellbeing sessions
  • a refresh of human resource procedures to ensure consistency with our enterprise agreement
  • providing data and research to support better workplace conditions and arrangements.

Staffing profile

In accordance with workforce planning projections, the ATSB’s staffing profile has shifted slightly, from 104 at the end of June 2020 to 109 by the end of June 2021. The associated staff turnover rate was approximately 9%. Table 15 displays the ATSB staff numbers, by classification, as at 30 June 2021.

Table 15: The ATSB’s staffing profile at 30 June 2021

Substantive
Classification

Gender x
(full-
time)

Female (full-
time)

Female
(part-
time)

Male
(full-
time)

Male
(part-
time)

Non-ongoing

Total

Statutory office holders

-

-

1

1

2

-

4

Senior Executive Service (SES)

-

-

-

1

-

0

1

EL 2

-

4

2

29

-

1

35

EL 1

-

10

4

19

-

-

33

APS 6

-

7

2

12

-

3

21

APS 5

-

6

-

8

-

7

14

APS 4

-

1

-

-

-

1

1

Total

-

28

9

70

2

8

109

This total is comprised of the following employment arrangements:

  • 104 staff (representing all non-SES employees) covered by the enterprise agreement
  • one SES employee covered by section 24(1) determinations, established in accordance with the ATSB’s SES remuneration policy
  • four statutory office holders (representing the Commissioners) determined by the remuneration tribunal.

There are no other employment arrangements in place and there is no provision for performance pay.

Of the 105 SES and non-SES employees, 73 employees were based in Canberra, 15 based in Brisbane, three based in Adelaide, six based in Perth, seven based in Melbourne and one based in Sydney.

Non-salary benefits provided to employees under the enterprise agreement include:

  • options for home-based work
  • ability to work part-time
  • flexible working arrangements
  • access to different leave types
  • influenza vaccinations and health checks
  • access to the Employee Assistance Program.

Indigenous employees

At 30 June 2021, the ATSB had no employees who identified as Indigenous.

Salary rates

Table 16 displays the salary rates supporting the above employment arrangements at 30 June 2021.

Table 16: The ATSB’s salary rates at 30 June 2021

Substantive classification

Lower($)

Upper($)

Statutory office holders

As determined by the remuneration tribunal

EL 2

123,914

152,296

EL 1

104,234

126,365

APS 6

81,369

96,791

APS 5

75,045

81,031

APS 4

67,221

73,045

* Maximums include transport safety investigator and respective supervisor salaries, representing a $2,125–$10,865 increase on standard APS 6–EL 2 rates.

** Senior executive remuneration for the 2020–21 financial year is captured and presented in Table 20: Information about remuneration for key management personnel.

Training and development

The ATSB is committed to building a strong, capable and resilient workforce. It does so by embracing greater opportunities for learning through on-the-job activities, relational learning through peers and networks, and blended training.

During 2020–21, the ATSB expanded and refreshed its suite of self-paced and online learning following the implementation of a new learning management system in April 2020. The ATSB now offers a suite of 114 courses through our learning management system, ranging from induction and management skills to specialist training supporting the unique training requirements of ATSB investigators.

Other key training and development activities in 2020–21 included:

  • 18 managers and staff completed a workplace coaching program, providing them with the skills to effectively coach and develop their staff
  • over 15 internal training courses to address critical skill requirements, including first aid, records management, and specialist technical knowledge
  • 14 staff training sessions to support the implementation of AIMS.

Purchasing

The ATSB purchases goods and services in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs). These rules are applied through the accountable authority instructions. The ATSB’s procurement policies and processes have been developed to ensure that:

  • it undertakes competitive, non-discriminatory procurements
  • it uses resources efficiently, effectively, economically and ethically
  • it makes all procurement decisions in an accountable and transparent manner.

Consultants

The ATSB engages consultants when it lacks specialist expertise, or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Consultants are typically engaged to:

  • investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem
  • carry out defined reviews or evaluations
  • provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the ATSB’s decision-making.

The ATSB policies on selection and engagement of consultants are in accordance with the CPRs. Before engaging consultants, the ATSB considers the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost effectiveness of engaging an external contractor.

During 2020–21, seven new reportable consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $2,482,752 (GST inclusive). There were no ongoing consultancy contracts carried over from 2019–20.

During 2020–21, 38 new reportable non-consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $6,824,577 (GST inclusive). There were nine ongoing non-consultancy contracts totalling $335,965 carried over from 2019–20.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on reportable contracts for consultancies and non-consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available from the AusTender website at www.tenders.gov.au.

Australian National Audit Office access clauses

There were no contracts during 2020–21 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractors’ premises.

Exempt contracts

No contracts were exempted on public interest grounds from publication on AusTender during 2020–21.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

The ATSB supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and medium enterprises (SME) and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website at www.finance.gov.au.

The ATSB seeks to support SMEs, consistent with paragraph 5.4 of the CPRs. It ensures that its communications are expressed in clear and simple language. Its finance system is set up to ensure prompt payments to all contractors and suppliers, and it makes use of credit cards.

Legal services and expenditure

Paragraph 11.1(a) of the Legal Services Directions 2017, issued by the Attorney-General under the Judiciary Act 1903, requires chief executives of departments and agencies to ensure that legal services expenditure is appropriately recorded and monitored. Chief executives must also ensure that their agencies make records of their legal services expenditure for the previous financial year, available by 30 October in the following financial year. The following amounts are exclusive of GST.

The ATSB’s expenditure on legal services for 2020–21 was $244,769 comprising:

  • $25,154 on external legal services
  • $219,615 on internal legal services.

External scrutiny and participation

Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee

Report into the policy, regulatory, taxation, administrative and funding priorities for Australian shipping

On 20 December 2020 the Senate Committee handed down its report from the above inquiry. The report included the following recommendation relevant to the ATSB:

The committee recommends that the Australian Government improves safety on domestic vessels, including by expanding the jurisdiction of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to include incidents on domestic vessels; and that the Australian Government commissions an independent review of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 to consider whether it provides clear and simple standards for training, crewing, and qualifications to improve marine safety on domestic commercial vessels.

The ATSB will be prepared to provide necessary input to address the Australian Government’s response to this recommendation.