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Part 3.5: Financial and Property Management

Financial accountability responsibilities

The Department’s financial accountability responsibilities are set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and subordinate legislation, collectively known as finance law.

In support of the finance law, the Department’s Accountable Authority Instructions are issued in accordance with section 20A of the PGPA Act. The Department also issued Finance Business Rules that clearly set out the rules and processes required for the financial administration of the Department.

Finance law and the supporting instructions and rules provide a framework to ensure the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of public resources. The Executive Committee is responsible for monitoring and addressing Departmental performance and risks. Advice on financial matters including administered, Departmental and capital expenditure is provided through monthly reports from the Chief Financial Officer, and supported by the Administered Program Board and Investment and Implementation Board. Further, the Department’s Audit and Risk Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the Accountable Authority (the Secretary).

Finance law also mandates the production of audited financial statements prepared in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards. The complete set of financial statements for the Department is provided in Part 4: Financial Statements.

Managing our assets

The Department holds financial and non-financial assets. Financial assets include cash and receivables, which are subject to internal controls and reconciliations.

Non-financial assets are held for operational purposes and include computing software and hardware, building fit-out, right-of-use assets, furniture and fittings. Decisions about whole-of-life asset management are undertaken in the context of the Department’s broader strategic planning to ensure investment in assets supports cost-effective achievement of the Department’s objectives. Effective management of the Department’s capital budgets is achieved by:

  • including whole-of-life consideration in proposals for capital expenditures;
  • whole of Department prioritisation of capital projects and major purchases by the Department’s Investment and Implementation Board;
  • undertaking regular stocktakes of physical assets; and
  • annually reviewing assets for indications of impairment and changes in expected useful lives.

Procurement

Purchasing

The Department’s approach to procurement activity is driven by the core principles of the Commonwealth’s financial management framework. The framework encourages competition, value for money, transparency and accountability, as well as the efficient, effective, ethical and economical use of Commonwealth resources.

During 2019-20, the Department continued its focus on improving the practices and knowledge of officers and delegates undertaking procurement activities. Internal procurement tools and resources were updated, and a new support model launched, to target expertise to business areas undertaking large or complex procurements.

The second half of 2019-20 involved an increase in purchasing activity to support the Department’s COVID-19 pandemic response across a wide range of areas including the National Medical Stockpile, general practitioner-led respiratory clinics and public health communications.

Initiatives to support small business

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make up the majority of all Australian businesses, contribute billions of dollars to the economy and provide employment for millions of Australians. In addition to the use of mandatory whole of Australian Government panels, the Department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. SME and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

The Department’s measures to support SME include:

  • ongoing promotion and application of the Indigenous Procurement Policy, on which detailed information is included below;
  • ensuring Small Business Engagement Principles are clearly communicated in simple language and in an accessible format, as outlined in the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda;
  • incorporating the supplier pay on-time policy, mandating 20 day payment terms for contracts under $1 million;
  • using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite (CCS) to minimise burden on businesses contracting with the Government; and
  • providing internal guidance and advice to support the Indigenous Procurement Policy, Small Business Engagement Principles and the CCS.

The Department recognises the importance of ensuring small businesses are paid on time. The result of the most recent Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website at: www.treasury.gov.au

Over the 2019-20 financial year, the Department continued to enhance and mature its Vendor Invoice Management System to ensure timely payments to small businesses.

Indigenous Procurement Policy

Indigenous businesses are vital to creating jobs for, and employing more, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The Indigenous Procurement Policy aims to support these businesses to grow and create opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

On 1 July 2019, the Department introduced the new value based target to help Indigenous businesses win higher value contracts at a level closer to those of non-Indigenous businesses. The target was set at one per cent of the Department’s average relevant procurement spend over the preceding three years. The existing targets and policy objectives remain in place.

In 2019-20, the Department entered into 191 new contracts with Indigenous businesses, worth a combined $67.6 million. This exceeded the target of 78 new contracts and represents an increase of 8.2 per cent of contract volume from 2018-19. In addition, the Department’s value based target of $8.5 million was exceeded by $59.1 million. This is primarily due to entering into a $40 million contract with Cole Workwear for personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department continued to promote awareness of opportunities to procure goods and services from Indigenous businesses. Together with the implementation of the Department’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2017–19, which incorporates Indigenous business development targets, these initiatives provided greater awareness and recognition of Indigenous suppliers and the benefits of their involvement in the Department’s procurements.

The Department is a member of Supply Nation, which supports and empowers Indigenous enterprises to achieve success and build business.

Consultants

The Department engages consultants to provide specialist expertise, independent research, reviews or assessments in relation to:

  • investigating or diagnosing a defined issue or problem;
  • carrying out defined reviews or evaluations; and/or
  • providing independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist the Department in decision-making.

The Department takes into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise. Decisions to engage consultants are made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related regulations, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and other internal policies, which include restricting the delegation to engage a consultant to the Senior Executive.

During 2019-20, 525 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $28.6 million. In addition, 313 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $37.5 million. The total actual expenditure on both new and ongoing contracts for 2019-20 was $66.1 million. This Annual Report contains information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website at: www.tenders.gov.au. In line with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, Austender contains information on contract and consultancies valued at or above $10,000.

Exempt contracts and Australian National Audit Office access

Exempt contracts

In 2019-20, 95 contracts were exempt from reporting on AusTender on the basis that publishing contract details would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982. This represents a decrease from 2018-19, where 111 contracts were exempt from reporting.

ANAO access clauses

The Department’s standard contract and Standing Offer templates include provisions to allow ANAO access to a contractor’s premises.

Grants

The Department gives effect to Government policy decisions through the provision of grant funding, and is the single largest granting agency in the Commonwealth. In 2019-20, grant activity spanned across six Outcomes and 18 Programs, and included not only ongoing funding for existing and new services and capital works programs, but also emergency support in response to the Australian bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the Department has funded over 10,000 grant activities for services and capital works each year, but in 2019-20 the number of grant activities grew to approximately 12,600. Key grants delivered as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response included:

  • over $15 million for health workforce provider sustainability;
  • over $87 million for emergency aged care support, including for the Commonwealth Home Support Program’s Meals on Wheels and industry support;
  • over $15 million for mental health counselling funding, including for children and young people; and
  • $30 million for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to fund a total of 26 COVID-19 research grants.

In addition to normal Departmental operations in support of the Australian bushfire response, the Department also contributed to the bushfire emergency with specific grant funding of over $12 million, which was distributed largely through Primary Health Networks. These were for a range of mental health programs to support:

  • individuals affected by the bushfires;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians; and
  • crisis support services, such as Lifeline ($1.5 million).

Grant funding was also provided to the MRFF to fund a total of nine bushfire research grants to a combined value of $5 million.

The Department’s grants administration practices are based on the mandatory requirements and principles of grants administration in the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs). The CGRGs establish the policy framework and articulate the expectations of non-corporate Commonwealth entities in relation to grants administration. The grant lifecycle involves five distinct but interrelated stages: design, select, establish, manage, and evaluate. While the Department is responsible for the administration and management of grants, the activity is undertaken in partnership with the Community Grants Hub within the Department of Social Services, the Business Grants Hub within the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The Department has adopted a risk-based approach to grants administration. Key to the Department’s risk-based approach is risk assessment and management at the design and select stages of the grants administration lifecycle. This approach helps the Department achieve value for money, deliver outcomes, reduce the administrative burden for funded organisations and apply the principle of proportionality. The Department is developing additional internal processes and systems, which will further reduce the impost on the resources of funding recipients to report on expenditure of funds.

Information on grants awarded by the Department during the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 is available on the Australian Government’s grant information system, GrantConnect, at: www.grants.gov.au. For grants awarded up to 31 December 2017, information is available on the Department’s website at: www.health.gov.au

Advertising and market research

The Department is required to report on payments over $14,000 made to advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations.

This section details these payments, along with the names of advertising campaigns conducted by the Department in 2019-20.

Advertising campaigns

During 2019-20, the Department conducted the following advertising campaigns, which were certified by the Secretary in line with the Guidelines on Information and Advertising Campaigns (March 2010):

  • Childhood Immunisation Education;
  • Maternal Vaccination;
  • Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine for Adolescents; and
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine for Adolescents.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department also delivered a comprehensive communications campaign, including advertising, to provide information to the Australian public on issues relating to the pandemic. This campaign was exempt from the Guidelines on Information and Advertising Campaigns by non-corporate Commonwealth entities.

Further information on those advertising campaigns is available at: www.health.gov.au, and in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance. Those reports are available on the Department of Finance’s website at: www.finance.gov.au/advertising

Table 3.5.1: Advertising, market research, direct mail and media advertising payments for 2019-20

Organisation

Service provided

Paid

(including GST)

Advertising agencies (creative advertising agencies which have developed advertising campaigns)

Carbon Media Pty Ltd

Childhood Immunisation Education campaign creative services

$75,900

Carbon Media Pty Ltd

Meningococcal ACWY vaccine for adolescents campaign creative services

$17,424

Carbon Media Pty Ltd

COVID-19 campaign creative services

$1,298,366

33 Creative Pty Ltd

COVID-19 Indigenous creative services

$424,698

McCann Australia

COVID-19 campaign creative services

$1,175,290

Market research

Bastion Insights Pty Ltd

Developmental focus groups for the Youth Taskforce

$109,989

Bastion Insights Pty Ltd

Qualitative research for the Voluntary Patient Enrolment Program

$245,685

Bastion Insights Pty Ltd

Exploratory research for the Out of Pockets Transparency Project

$174,900

Hall and Partners Pty Ltd

Evaluation research for the COVID-19 communications campaign

$974,051

Hall and Partners Pty Ltd

Evaluation research for the Childhood Immunisation ‘Get the Facts’ campaign

$93,194

Orima Research Pty Ltd

Opioid regulatory reforms - consumer and health professionals segmentation research

$299,941

Snapcracker Research and Strategy Pty Ltd

National Sports Tribunal concept testing

$143,000

Snapcracker Research and Strategy Pty Ltd

Evaluation of the Australian Immunisation Handbook

$249,975

Snapcracker Research and Strategy Pty Ltd

Concept testing research for the COVID-19 communications campaign

$166,375

Snapcracker Research and Strategy Pty Ltd

Concept testing research for influenza communications

$44,000

Snapcracker Research and Strategy Pty Ltd

Concept testing research for the Childhood Immunisation campaign - Phase 4

$60,830

Snapcracker Research and Strategy Pty Ltd

Concept testing research for meningococcal communications

$43,945

Snapcracker Research and Strategy Pty Ltd

General practitioner (GP) letter evaluation research

$66,000

Stancombe Research & Planning Pty Ltd

Segmentation research to support the National Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy

$329,835

Tobias and Tobias Pty Ltd

User research with general practitioners and patients

$208,730

Whereto Research Based Consulting

Exploratory research for the My Aged Care program

$276,611

Direct mail organisations (includes organisations which handle the sorting and mailing out of information material to the public)

National Mail and Marketing Pty Ltd

Bowel cancer screening forms

$20,943.34

National Mail and Marketing Pty Ltd

Safe prescribing fact sheets and letters

$53,907.27

National Mail and Marketing Pty Ltd

Changes to continuous glucose monitoring initiative letter

$58,453.73

National Mail and Marketing Pty Ltd

2020 influenza resources

$183,073.64

National Mail and Marketing Pty Ltd

Bowel cancer screening letter to GPs and specialists

$22,276.03

National Mail and Marketing Pty Ltd

National Immunisation Program July schedule changes

$103,757.27

National Mail and Marketing Pty Ltd

My Aged Care resources

$110,539.60

Media advertising organisations (the master advertising agencies which place Government advertising in the media – this covers campaign and non-campaign advertising)

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for the Childhood Immunisation Education campaign

$4,827,127

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for the Head to Health COVID-19 campaign

$245,784

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for the Maternal Vaccination campaign

$395,989

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for the COVID-19 campaign

$54,520,238

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for the HPV campaign

$390,792

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for the 2020 seasonal influenza campaign

$49,392

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for the Meningococcal ACWY adolescents campaign

$196,952

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for the Australian General Practice Training

$19,802

Mediabrands Australia Pty Ltd

Media buy for per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances

$97,466

Property management and environmental impact

During 2019-20, the Australian bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic saw implementation of various strategies in the Department’s tenancies directed at staff welfare, and supporting the continued operation of the National Incident Room.

This included installation of real-time air quality monitoring and filter upgrades in Departmental tenancies as part of the response to bushfire smoke. The Department has also undertaken a range of activities to ensure a COVIDSafe work environment in its tenancies. This has included support for remote working, increased hygiene support and improved guidance and signage on physical distancing. It has also included an enhanced general cleaning regime, as well as ad hoc cleaning of workspaces and surrounding areas under the Department’s internal procedures for responding to suspected cases of COVID-19 among our staff.

Ecologically sustainable development principles

The principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) outlined in section 3A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 are that:

  • decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long term and short term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations;
  • if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation;
  • the present generation should ensure the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations;
  • the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making; and
  • improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.
Our contribution

In 2019-20, the Department continued its commitment to ESD through a methodical approach to planning, implementing and monitoring the Department’s environmental performance through programs and policies in accordance with current legislation, whole-of-government requirements and environmental best practice. The Department also administers legislation as outlined below that is relevant to, and meets the principles of, ESD.

Gene Technology Act 2000

Through the Gene Technology Regulator (the Regulator), the Department protects the health and safety of people and the environment by identifying risks posed by gene technology and manages those risks through regulating activities with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These activities range from contained work in certified laboratories to release of GMOs into the environment. The Regulator imposes licence conditions to protect the environment, and uses extensive powers to monitor and enforce those conditions.

Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989

The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) aids in the protection of the Australian people and the environment by assessing the risks from the introduction and use of industrial chemicals and promoting their safe use. From 1 July 2020, NICNAS is replaced by a new regulatory scheme, the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), established under the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019. AICIS will continue to operate within an agreed framework for chemical management consistent with the National Strategy for ESD, and is aligned with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development Agenda 21 (Rio Declaration) chapter on the environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals.

Environmental impact of our operations

The Energy Efficient in Government Operations (EEGO) Policy contains minimum energy performance standards for Australian Government office buildings as a strategy for achieving energy targets. This ensures entities progressively improve their performance through the procurement and ongoing management of energy efficient office buildings, and environmentally sound equipment and appliances.

The Department, as part of its strategic accommodation planning, undertakes to meet the requirements of the Green Lease Schedule. That is, for tenancies of greater than 2,000m2 with a lease term greater than two years, accommodation will meet the ‘A’ grade standard of the Building Owners and Managers Association International guidelines, and meet a minimum National Australian Built Environment Rating System rating of 4.5 stars.

Energy consumption

Figure 3.5.1: The Department's electricity and natural gas consumption

Figure 3.5.1 is a bar graph showing the Department’s electricity and gas consumption in gigajoules for 2016-17 to 2019-20. The graph is broken down into the categories of electricity (office), electricity (non-office) and natural gas (non-office) usage. Usage of gas has significantly increased in 2019-20 compared to previous years. Electricity usage both office and non-office has decreased.

The Department is required to meet the target of no more than 7,500 megajoules (MJ) per person, per annum, for office tenant light and power under the EEGO Policy. In 2019-20 the Department met this target, using 4,428 MJ per person, per annum. This represents an increase of 47 MJ per person from the previous reporting period. This is attributed to the increase in non-office natural gas consumption.

The graph shows a decrease in office electricity consumption. This is in part attributable to the various unforeseen environmental impacts, including the Australian bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic that occurred during the 2019-20 financial year. These impacts saw the Department implement various initiatives, including remote working arrangements for staff. The Department continues its efforts in its leased property portfolio to reduce energy consumption through technology such as:

  • new functionally designed fit-outs;
  • T5 fluorescent and movement activated sensor lighting;
  • double glazed windows;
  • energy efficient heating;
  • ventilation; and
  • air-conditioning systems.

The Department also encouraged staff participation in Earth Hour on 28 March 2020 by switching off all non-essential building lights, terminals, monitors and office equipment at all of its properties around Australia.

While there is no target for energy consumption in non-office space, the Department monitors the energy consumption in these facilities as part of its commitment to reducing impact on the environment from its activities. The Department’s non-office space includes sites used for laboratories, workshops and storage facilities, predominately the Symonston, Australian Capital Territory facility, which houses the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in the Health Products Regulation Group. This facility accounts for all the Department’s use of natural gas. During 2019-20, major repairs were undertaken at this facility on equipment that had experienced diminished output over a number of years. This plant being restored to more normal operating modes has increased the consumption rate. From mid-2022, the TGA will be accommodated in a new purpose-built laboratory facility with a modern, energy efficient plant.

Waste management

Figure 3.5.2: Average monthly waste produced by the Department1

Figure 3.5.2 is a bar graph showing the Department’s average monthly waste produced in tonnes for 2016-17 to 2019-20, as well as the percentage of total waste recycled. The graph is broken down into the categories of general waste, commingled recycling, paper and cardboard recycling and organic recycling. The amount of all waste types has decreased in 2019-20.

The Department is committed to protecting the environment through the implementation of efficient and effective waste management programs.

In the majority of the Department’s offices, waste management initiatives include segregated waste streams to improve management of general waste, commingled recycling, organic recycling, and paper and cardboard recycling. The Department aims to increase the amount of waste recycled as a proportion of total waste.

The decrease in the volume of waste in 2019-20 across all streams reflects the Department’s shift to remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional recycling efforts include the recycling of printer and toner cartridges, batteries and mobile phones to ensure these items are diverted from landfill and used in sustainable programs.

The Department’s largest office building, the Sirius Building in Woden, Australian Capital Territory, also uses recycled grey water for flushing toilet cisterns. Along with the use of waterless urinals in the building, this significantly reduces reliance on mains water in the operation of the building.

Vehicle fleet management

Figure 3.5.3: Fleet fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Figure 3.5.3 is a bar graph showing the Department’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for 2015-16 to 2019-20. The graph is broken down into the categories of diesel oil and petroleum, and includes to total CO2 emissions in tonnes. All categories have significantly decreased in 2019-20.

In 2019-20, the Department operated 40 vehicles, which travelled a total of 199,724 kilometres and expended 374,801 MJ. This resulted in an energy consumption of approximately 1.88 MJ/km.

The Department saw a reduction in usage of its fleet vehicles during 2019-20, with a large volume of staff working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing review of fleet vehicle usage nationally. This review saw the Department not replace several vehicles when the vehicle leases expired, leaving the Department with an operating fleet of 30 vehicles.

The Department will continue to review its vehicle fleet to ensure that it is being used effectively and operating efficiently.

Footnotes

  1. 2019-20 organic recycling data is not available.