Go to top of page

Corporate governance

This section discusses Finance's support services and governance structures, which provide a framework to promote accountability and overall effectiveness.

Corporate services

The Corporate Services and Information and Communications Technology divisions, under the Department's Business Enabling Services, provide high quality and efficient services to Finance. In addition to delivering these services, in line with compliance requirements and service standards, there is a strong focus on best-practice delivery and strategically looking ahead to ensure services and technology remain fit for purpose for our clients.

Finance’s internal transformation agenda provides direction for how the Department can improve service delivery with innovative and forward-looking initiatives.

Specifically, the Corporate Services Division provides strategic advice to the Secretary and Executive Board on corporate governance and departmental administration. The Division connects its operational delivery of corporate services with organisational planning and reporting activities and strategy through the Integrated Business Planning framework. The Division provides a range of services to the Department and our ministers including:

  • parliamentary coordination and liaison
  • human resource services
  • financial advice and support
  • in-house legal services
  • facilities management and security
  • communications and public affairs strategy
  • advice and knowledge management.

The Information and Communications Technology Division delivers business services to the Department and other government agencies. The Division supports the Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer functions of IT security, architecture, service and program delivery, as well as online, technical and government network services.

In 2018–19, the Division provided services to approximately 1,700 users to support Finance's operations. It provided a range of whole‑of‑government services that enhanced collaboration and connection by government entities. These services:

  • provided online workspaces for over 22,000 people, 160 organisations and 3,500 communities
  • hosted over 280 government websites
  • enabled over 800 meetings via secure video for ministers and senior government officials.

Figure 3: Whole-of-government ICT Services


Finance’s governance framework promotes the principles of good governance and supports our performance in line with government and organisational priorities. This is achieved through engaging with staff on matters of risk management and accountability, transparency of the Executive Board and committee operations, and embedding Integrated Business Planning at all levels. This framework supports the Secretary in discharging her duties under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Public Service Act 1999.

Figure 4 shows Finance’s governance structure at 30 June 2019.

Executive Board

The Executive Board is the chief advisory and decision-making body in Finance. It supports the Secretary in discharging her duties under the PGPA Act. Members of the Board provide strategic leadership to ensure the Department delivers its programs in keeping with the Government’s policy objectives. The Board also monitors performance and maintains accountability.

In addition to its decision-making role, the Board structures its business to ensure that it undertakes key strategic discussions, considers emerging risks and receives regular updates from the chairs of the subcommittees. The Board sets the direction of, and oversees progress made against, the Department’s transformation agenda to ensure we are a high-performing, modern, efficient and continuously improving public sector organisation delivering better and more efficient services to government and citizens.

The Secretary chairs the Executive Board, supported by the four Deputy Secretaries of the Department as permanent members. In addition, membership of the Board is offered for a period of nine months on a rotating basis to two senior members of staff—a First Assistant Secretary and an Assistant Secretary from across the Department.

These arrangements reflect the Executive’s commitment to encouraging a wide range of perspectives in Board deliberations and developing leadership capability among the Senior Executive Service (SES), including through exposure to robust decision-making at the highest level within the Department.

Executive Board subcommittees

In its ongoing role in reviewing the suitability of the governance arrangements in Finance, the Executive Board agreed in October 2018 to realign its subcommittee structure, reducing the number of subcommittees but broadening the membership engagement of the SES. This was to ensure the wider senior leadership cohort of First Assistant Secretaries in the Department play an active role in shaping operational and strategic departmental issues including, resourcing, people, communication and culture, business improvement and transformation issues.

The membership of the newly formed Senior Leadership Committee (SLC) consists of all Deputy Secretaries, all First Assistant Secretaries and those Assistant Secretaries who have organisational responsibility for human resources, internal budgets and the transformation agenda. The SLC is chaired by the Deputy Secretary of Business Enabling Services. This complements the embedded Strategic Review process and facilitates an ongoing dialogue throughout the year to ensure the Board and subcommittees are operating dynamically to manage risks and priorities.

In 2018–19, the Executive Board had four subcommittees. Three of these are chaired by a Deputy Secretary:

  • Senior Leadership Committee
  • Risk Subcommittee
  • Policy Working Group.

The fourth subcommittee, the Leadership and Remuneration subcommittee, is chaired by the Secretary and includes all the Deputy Secretaries. It is responsible for overseeing and providing advice on people management matters.

Figure 4: Finance’s governance structure, at 30 June 2019

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the Secretary on the appropriateness of the Department’s accountability and control framework—particularly those aspects concerning performance and financial reporting and systems relating to risk and control. It also provides assurance on the adequacy of the Australian Government’s consolidated financial statements production and risk planning process in Finance.

In 2018–19, the Audit Committee had four external members (including the independent chair) and two departmental members. It met five times during the year.

The Audit Committee has two subcommittees, chaired by external members, to support it in performing its functions:

  • The Financial Reporting Subcommittee (FRSC) maintains an ongoing review of the process for preparing the Department’s annual financial statements. The FRSC met five times in 2018–19.
  • The Performance Reporting Subcommittee (PRSC) assists the Audit Committee in meeting its performance reporting responsibilities under the PGPA Act. The PRSC met five times in

The Audit Committee works closely with the Risk Subcommittee on oversight of the Department’s risk management framework, with the Audit Committee Chair attending the meetings of that subcommittee as an observer.

Table 1 shows Audit Committee membership during 2018–19 and the number of meetings attended by each member during the year.

Table 1: Audit Committee membership, 2018–19

Name and position

Meetings attended in 2018–19

Membership details

Mr Geoff Knuckey

(external member)

Chair, Audit Committee

Chair, Financial Reporting Subcommittee (FRSC)

Audit Committee


Mr Knuckey joined the Audit Committee in October 2010 and was appointed as the Chair in January 2017.



Ms Jennifer Clark

(external member)

Deputy Chair, Audit Committee

Chair, Performance Reporting Subcommittee

Audit Committee


Ms Clark joined the Audit Committee in December 2015 and was appointed as the Deputy Chair in March 2017.



Ms Gayle Ginnane

(external member)

Audit Committee


Ms Ginnane joined the Audit Committee in January 2017.

Mr Ian McPhee AO PSM

(external member)

Audit Committee


Mr McPhee joined the Audit Committee in January 2017.

He is a member of the PRSC.



Dr Stein Helgeby

(departmental member)

Audit Committee


Dr Helgeby, Deputy Secretary, Governance and APS Transformation, joined the Audit Committee in July 2012.

He is a member of the PRSC.



Ms Amanda Lee

(departmental member)

Audit Committee


Ms Lee, First Assistant Secretary, Budget Policy and Coordination, joined the Audit Committee in January 2019.

She is a member of the FRSC.



Ms Stacie Hall

(departmental member)

Audit Committee


Ms Hall, First Assistant Secretary, Commercial, was a member of the Audit Committee from May 2016 to December 2018.

She was a member of the FRSC.



Integrated business planning framework

Finance’s Integrated Business Planning framework ensures alignment across domains of enterprise decision-making, including:

  • Strategic Review and prioritisation
  • enterprise risk framework
  • corporate planning
  • divisional business planning
  • budgeting
  • investment and resource planning.

Strategic Reviews

The Strategic Review cycle underpins the Department’s transformation focus on Integrated Business Planning. It is the key mechanism to guide prioritisation, resource allocation and identify and manage strategic and operational risks.

Strategic Review occurs three times a year and supports the Executive Board to identify and respond to key focus areas to ensure we deliver for government, particularly in relation to resourcing, risks and opportunities for business improvement. This process enables strategic investment decisions to contribute to Finance’s goal to be a high-performing, modern, efficient and continuously improving public sector that delivers government priorities more efficiently and effectively.

Over the past 12 months, the Strategic Review cycle has matured significantly to enable more effective business planning with an investment lens, regular scheduled reviews, rolling four-year budgets and greater autonomy for groups and divisions to manage priorities, deliver operational business and engage with opportunity and risk. Strengthening this approach will remain a priority for the Department over the coming year.

In 2018–19, a number of themes were identified through Strategic Review that guided the Department’s priorities. These themes focused on enhancing staff capability, knowledge management and Finance’s strategic partnerships, and continuing to mature the Integrated Business Planning framework.

Planning and performance reporting framework

Finance has an integrated performance cycle, with its corporate plan as the pre-eminent planning document. This is complemented by performance planning through our portfolio budget statements and annual report, our Integrated Business Planning and budgeting and governance processes that direct individual and team work activities to achieve our purpose.

The performance framework provides for the establishment of the organisational goals, sets out how these will be delivered and implemented, and ultimately prescribes review processes throughout the year. Our performance is therefore accountable through governance, transparent reporting and open external engagement with key stakeholders.

Our performance in achieving our purpose is:

  • informed by the operating context and the functions/roles allocated to Finance as a central agency
  • supported by departmental strengths such as governance structures, risk policies, culture and organisational capabilities.

Figure 5: Finance’s planning and performance reporting cycle

Managing risk

Finance’s risk management framework sets out our risk management policy and guides how we identify, manage and report risks where they may impact the achievement of our purpose. The Secretary and the Executive Board (through the Risk Subcommittee) oversee the framework.

The framework supports the Secretary to meet the duties under section 16 of the PGPA Act and it complies with the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy.

In 2018–19, we focused on increasing the risk capability of our people at all levels of the Department. We appointed Mr Andrew Jaggers, Deputy Secretary Commercial and Government Services as the Chief Risk Officer (CRO), complementing his role as Chair of the Risk Subcommittee. The CRO is an important leadership role that champions risk capability, culture and awareness at the entity level. The CRO also engages with the Executive Board and the Senior Leadership Committee to ensure strategic discussions are informed by opportunity and risk, particularly where decisions may affect Finance’s risk profile. We established an internal risk engagement group, with representatives from each division, to support increased risk capability at the operational level through information sharing, learning and networking.

We have embedded risk reporting into Integrated Business Planning, which enables risk-based decision-making as part of the Strategic Review of our operations. We are continuing to support these processes and encourage behaviours to embed a positive risk culture across the Department.

Business continuity management

Business continuity management is integral to the Department’s risk management arrangements. It entails careful planning to enable the continuation or timely resumption of critical functions, and eventual restoration to normal operations following a business interruption.

If a business interruption occurs, a central control team is convened by the Deputy Secretary, Business Enabling Services. The team serves as the central point of communications and coordination for the Department’s response and recovery.

Business continuity plans are reviewed and tested annually to ensure they meet business requirements.