During 2017–18 PM&C performed effectively in delivering our three purposes. Independent surveys of stakeholders found that we provided quality advice across a broad range of policy areas; that we collaborated effectively with public and non-government stakeholders; and we provided effective services to the Cabinet.
PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT IN PM&C
The results recorded in this performance statement are listed against the relevant activity, KPI and measurement in the Corporate Plan 2017–21 and the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18.
PM&C measures performance by assessing the timeliness of our advice, where we aim for a target of 85 per cent of briefs and correspondence being delivered on time, and an internal assessment of our policy advising and implementation, supported by case studies.
We also assess stakeholder satisfaction and our effectiveness by surveying senior ministerial staff reporting to the Prime Minister and portfolio ministers, the PM&C Executive and other external stakeholders with whom we have a close working relationship. The surveys are conducted by an independent specialist. Satisfaction and effectiveness is reported on a four point scale:
- dissatisfied/not effective (0 to 49)
- neutral (50)
- satisfied/effective (51 to 70), and
- highly satisfied/highly effective (71 to 100).
We aimed for a target of 71, which indicates that our stakeholders are highly satisfied with our policy advice and coordination, monitoring and implementation and organisation of events. We have a threshold of 51 for responses where our wider stakeholder group consider our collaboration to be effective.
Meeting a target indicates achievement of the broader activity. The Department considers an activity to be achieved when all measurements are at or above target, and substantially achieved when all measures have a satisfactory or equivalent result. The Department acknowledges there is room for improvement for those activities that are rated ‘substantially achieved’.
The year was dominated by an increasing shift in the international order creating a profound strategic and economic change across the world. This delivered both opportunities and challenges for the Indo-Pacific region and our country. This together with the robust domestic political landscape required the Department to respond quickly and decisively to anticipated and unforeseen events to support the priorities of the Government. The year also saw a spike in the number of Heads of Government and Heads of State visiting Australia for events such as the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit and the Commonwealth Games, stretching resourcing and capacity.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
The results indicate more work needs to be done to consistently achieve the targets that we set for ourselves and improve delivery against the following activities:
- Policy advice - Senior ministerial staff were generally satisfied with the timeliness and quality of the Department’s policy advice but indicated that the Department can improve the ways in which it brings a
whole-of-government perspective to policy advice.
- Support functions - Senior ministerial staff indicated they were satisfied with the Department’s level of support and management of official visits and events. This level of satisfaction is lower than last year’s rating, which met the target high levels of satisfaction. There was also a drop in the rating for timeliness of correspondence flows to ministerial offices. The Department is responding to these lower ratings as part of the transformation agenda outlined in our 2018–22 Corporate Plan, including an internal review of priorities, some restructuring and enhanced performance tracking.
- Policy coordination and monitoring - External stakeholders reported satisfaction with the quality and timeliness of Department’s policy coordination, monitoring and implementation activities. This is the first year of reporting in this area and the results are below the Department’s target high level of satisfaction. The Department has projects underway to improve coordination and monitoring, including the CabNet Improvement Program and the Digital First System. When fully implemented, these IT based systems will deliver stronger coordination of briefing materials across agencies and provide streamlined services to ministers and their offices.
- Advice on Indigenous Affairs - Senior ministerial staff were satisfied with the quality and timeliness of advice, and the support received on Indigenous affairs matters. This assessment is less favourable than the Department’s target of high levels of satisfaction. Senior ministerial staff were marginally dissatisfied with the support provided to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. The Department is responding by improving internal processes linked to:
- the timeliness of correspondence flows to ministers’ offices
- improved collaboration
- a review of priorities and performance tracking.
- Education targets under COAG’s Closing the Gap agenda - PM&C coordinates the annual statement on achievements against the COAG Closing the Gap targets. On the education targets, the Year 12 attainment target is on track. The targets for Indigenous school attendance and reading, writing and numeracy are not on track. These three targets are included in PM&C’s performance measurements for Program 2.2 in the 2017–18 Portfolio Budget Statements but responsibility for delivery of the services designed to achieve those targets largely rests with state and territory governments. The 2018 Closing the Gap Report prepared by PM&C provided detailed information on progress toward these targets. Following the 10th anniversary of Closing the Gap this year, Commonwealth, state and territory governments are working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and communities on a refreshed Closing the Gap agenda.The Closing the Gap targets are a collective target for all levels of government across Australia.
The Department has incorporated the lessons learned from this year’s feedback into the Department’s 2018–2022 Corporate Plan. The Plan clearly highlights our purposes, key focus areas and performance measures, providing key priorities for the next four years. The measures of success included in the plan demonstrate a significant consolidation from previous years.