The department promotes a sound governance culture that enables it to meet the performance and accountability requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). Its governance framework includes committees established to provide leadership, oversee decision-making and ensure effective service delivery. These committees also embed the governance fundamentals of transparency, collaboration and performance.
During 2018–19, the department continued to implement the PGPA Act’s requirements while also ensuring that arrangements were in place to help staff plan for success (Strategic Plan, Corporate Plan and business planning), define and manage risk in line with the department’s risk appetite, and regularly monitor performance.
Strategic Plan 2017–2020
The Strategic Plan defines at the highest level how the components of the department work together, and shapes the culture of the working environment. The Strategic Plan’s five core elements provide direction when people in the department plan, deliver and evaluate their work:
- Delivery. We deliver on the Government’s agenda and its priorities.
- Collaboration. We build and maintain meaningful relationships across the public service and with corporate and not-for-profit partners.
- Forward-looking. We strive to be innovative in everything we do, identifying risks, emerging trends and opportunities.
- Influence. We aspire to be influential in the economic and social environment in which we work, for the benefit of the community we serve.
- People. An engaged and capable workforce is the heart of our business and our ability to support the Government and the community.
The plan is a reference point for everyone in the department and flows through all departmental planning, including corporate and business planning processes.
Corporate Plan 2018–19
The Corporate Plan is the department’s primary planning document, fulfilling a core requirement under the PGPA Act. It also aligns with performance information published in the Portfolio Budget Statements.
The plan identifies how the department will achieve its purpose by outlining priorities and measures for the year ahead, and how these will be achieved over a rolling four-year period. It also details how the department’s operating environment and capability are expected to change in the coming years, and how the department will manage these factors in achieving its purpose. The plan is developed in consultation with all areas of the department.
The department’s results against the performance criteria in the 2018–19 Corporate Plan and Portfolio Budget Statements are set out in the annual performance statements (Part 2 of this report).
Business planning in the department involves developing forward plans for each group, division and branch. These plans outline priorities for the year ahead, strategies for achieving them, and how success will be measured.
Business plans are an important link between the Strategic Plan, the Corporate Plan and individual performance agreements. They translate strategic priorities into actions, define deliverables and ensure accountability.
Staff are encouraged to refer to their business plan when building individual performance agreements. This approach helps drive performance, increase engagement and build capability, while enabling people to understand how their own work contributes to achieving the department’s purpose.
As part of the business planning process, the executive and each group’s leadership team met during the year to discuss the objectives, processes and challenges outlined in their respective business plans. These meetings afford an opportunity to review progress towards the delivery of outcomes.
The IT Strategic Plan 2018–2022 guides the department’s information technology direction and supports the department’s Strategic Plan. The IT Strategic Plan focuses on delivering ‘Better outcomes and a better experience for citizens, businesses and government’.
A key principle of the IT Strategic Plan is for the department to be responsive to changing expectations from government, the public and its staff, by making the most of new and emerging technology.
Aligning with the department’s People Strategy and whole-of-government initiatives, the plan aims to deliver capability in four key areas:
- Partnerships: We are at our best when we’re working with others to deliver on shared outcomes.
- People: Our people are our greatest asset, navigating a world of changing technology.
- Delivery: We aim to be at the forefront of delivering technology for government outcomes.
- Technology: We are focused on flexibility and responsiveness, while ensuring our systems are secure, robust and reliable.
The Executive Meeting
The Executive Meeting is the department’s primary governing body. It supports the Secretary, as the accountable authority, in delivering outcomes, making strategic decisions and overseeing operational matters. It also promotes the core principles of good public service governance by ensuring the department adheres to all applicable standards and legislative requirements, acts impartially and delivers with integrity. The Secretary chairs the Executive Meeting and all deputy secretaries are members.
The department’s governance committees support the Executive Meeting by helping to report, make decisions, deliver the Government’s objective, achieve the department’s purpose, and comply with the department’s obligations. At 30 June 2019, the department had six governance committees:
- The Audit Committee helps the department comply with its obligations under the PGPA Act by providing independent advice and assurance to the Secretary on the department’s control framework, including financial and performance reporting, and risk oversight and management. The committee also provides a forum for communication between the Secretary, senior managers, and the department’s internal and external auditors.
- The Finance and Business Services Committee considers and oversees business improvement practices and the use of resources and procedures to ensure the department meets its business goals.
- The Information Technology Committee considers and oversees the management and use of information technology to enable the department to meet its program and corporate objectives.
- The People and Capability Committee considers and oversees the management of the people and organisational strategies and assists the department to comply with its work health and safety duties and obligations.
- The Strategic Policy Committee operates as a policy think tank, focusing on emerging cross-portfolio priorities and longer term policy issues, and provides a forum to exchange, test and challenge new ideas about current and future work.
- The Data, Digital and Privacy Committee oversees the development of implementation plans and promotes awareness across the department of whole-of-government data and digital agendas.
The committee structure integrates with other governance arrangements such as the department’s core strategic documents (including the corporate and strategic plans), subcommittees and interdepartmental committees. The department also has a number of consultative committees, steering committees and working groups that support the governance committees, monitor progress, consult and share information.
The Audit Committee meets quarterly, and all the other committees usually meet every second month, with additional meetings when necessary. They provide activity reports on progress and performance to the Executive Meeting.
The department conducts an annual health check of its governance arrangements to identify ways to improve the committees’ performance. In 2018–19, the health check focused on building greater consistency between committees and assessing the operational arrangements in place.
The department’s Audit Committee is established in accordance with section 45 of PGPA Act and section 17 of the PGPA Rule 2014. It functions in an oversight and review capacity to provide dependent advice and assurance to the Secretary on the department’s financial reporting, performance reporting, risk management and control frameworks.
An independent audit committee is an important element of good governance. To support this, and as required under the PGPA Rule 2014, the department’s Secretary and Chief Financial Officer are not part of the committee. The appointment of external members to the committee strengthens its independence. An external member chairs the committee.
Throughout 2018–19, the committee had five members. The majority of committee members are external to the department, and all members have distinguished backgrounds in public sector management and service delivery, financial management and accounting standards, or information technology and governance. In 2018–19, the committee met six times. Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) representatives observed and made presentations at five of these meetings.
In 2019–20, the Audit Committee will continue providing independent advice to the Secretary to inform decision-making on the department’s accountability and control framework. Through this advice, it will help the Secretary fulfil her corporate governance responsibilities concerning risk management and the proper (efficient, effective, ethical and economical) use of public resources.
Finance and Business Services Committee
The Finance and Business Services Committee oversees the department’s corporate strategies for meeting its business goals. It considers opportunities for driving business efficiencies and for supporting innovation and organisational capability. The committee was co-chaired by the Deputy Secretary Employment and the Deputy Secretary Corporate for the first half of the financial year and, following the department’s governance health check, was chaired by the Deputy Secretary Corporate. Membership includes a cross section of management levels and organisational areas from throughout the department and people with relevant specialist knowledge. The committee met six times during 2018–19.
The committee will continue to oversee the department’s risk management framework including developing strategies to respond to areas identified as needing improvement. It values broad employee engagement in promoting departmental initiatives.
The committee’s focus for 2019–20 includes:
- implementing communication and training initiatives to ensure transparency and accountability, and increase knowledge across the department
- implementing the department’s protective security policy and framework
- improving business practices and reducing internal red tape, and
- ensuring the department maintains a strong risk management culture.
Information Technology Committee
The IT Committee advises the executive on departmental IT capabilities, strategy, risk, and investment priorities. Steering committees in the department’s two information and communications technology (ICT) groups report to the IT Committee and govern the delivery of IT projects.
People and Capability Committee
The People and Capability Committee governs the strategies, policies and decisions that affect our employees. It reviews and drives innovative approaches to people management and capability development activities, while ensuring continued compliance with legislative requirements, including work health and safety obligations.
Highlights for the committee in 2018–19 included:
- reporting on the findings from a trial of flexible work practices (Flexible by Default), which confirmed a positive culture and high level of support for working flexibly across the department
- launching the online work health and safety management system, which provides employees with centralised access to work health and safety policies, procedures, systems and resources implementing a pilot program to identify and support development of high-potential Executive Level 1 employees
- launching the department’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2018–2020, which underscores our commitment to supporting employees who identify with diversity groups
- endorsing the People Strategy 2018–2022 — ‘Building now for our future’, which identifies 27 initiatives over the next five years to develop our people and workforce for the future.
In the year ahead, the committee will continue overseeing the People Strategy and monitoring progress on recommendations and initiatives associated with its implementation.
Strategic Policy Committee
The Strategic Policy Committee operates as a policy think tank. It examines major policy issues by testing ideas and sharing insights, as well as considering and influencing longer term strategic policy issues. The committee advises the executive on the department’s actions in progressing short-term to medium-term departmental and whole-of-government policy priorities. The committee also provides a forum for engaging with external stakeholders on emerging policy issues.
The role of the committee was reviewed during the year. Key changes included strengthening linkages to the executive by increasing engagement in priority policy discussions, and promoting the outcomes from committee meetings widely in the department.
During 2018–19, the committee considered a range of strategic issues such as the role of apprenticeship policies and programs in reskilling the workforce; strengthening industry engagement on workplace relations matters; the linkages between income support and employment services; Indigenous employment; seasonal work; and the department’s data strategy and research ethics protocol.
Through the committee’s policy discussions in the year ahead, the department will continue to collaborate across groups and with other agencies to influence and provide policy advice to government on new employment services, and small and family business. The committee will also begin to consider emerging priorities in skills and training policies and programs, a new area of work for the department following the machinery-of-government changes.
Data, Digital and Privacy Committee
The Data, Digital and Privacy Committee:
- provides oversight of the development of implementation plans and awareness across the department of whole-of-government data and digital agendas
- oversees and guides implementation of the Public Sector Data Management Agenda and provides recommendations pertaining to scope, role, structure and resources for implementation following the outcomes of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Review of Australian Government Data Activities 2018
- oversees the development of implementation plans relating to digital transformation agenda activities
- oversees and guides implementation of the corporate strategies (such as risk strategies) relating to data, digital and privacy management
- ensures the department meets targets outlined in the Digital Continuity 2020 policy, including a comprehensive information management governance framework
- sets a framework to identify crossover of work and consistency where possible within the following streams:
–– Whole of Government Data Agenda
–– Digital Continuity 2020 policy
–– Data and Digital Management Project
–– Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme
–– assessment of privacy risk and carrying out privacy impact assessment as required by the new Privacy Code.