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Performance overview

Introduction

PM&C achieves its mission of improving the lives of all Australians by delivering high-quality and timely advice to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and our Portfolio Ministers and Assistant Ministers.

The PM&C Annual Performance Statement assessed PM&C’s actual performance against the purposes, key activities, performance measures and targets in its Corporate Plan 2020–24; and the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) outcome for the 2020–21 financial year. Reported results are supported by evidence and grouped under the following 6 departmental purposes:

  • Purpose 1 – Growing our economy, incomes and creating jobs
  • Purpose 2 – Vibrant and resilient regions
  • Purpose 3 – Strengthening families and communities
  • Purpose 4 – Enhancing Australia’s international and national security
  • Purpose 5 – Governing well
  • Purpose 6 – Preparing well to respond to critical issues

The Department’s PBS outcome directly aligns to the 6 purposes in the Corporate Plan 2020–24. Reporting against the purposes and performances measures in the Corporate Plan 2020–24 was used to assess achievement against the PBS performance criteria for the 2020­–21 financial year.

Assessing our performance and reporting methodology

Preparations for this year’s reporting cycle commenced with the publication of PM&C’s Corporate Plan 2020–24 in August last year. Key activities, performance measures and targets under the Corporate Plan were mapped and assigned to the responsible First Assistant Secretary for monitoring and reporting purposes.

To assess the Department’s overall performance against the Corporate Plan, a range of performance measurement methodologies were identified at the beginning of the performance cycle. In line with Department of Finance Resource Management Guide No 131, appropriate performance methodologies were selected to help track, monitor and report performance against each individual key activity. Where a performance measure was supported by a target (or targets), reporting against the target(s) was used to demonstrate performance against the measure and key activity.

This year the Department used a range of quantitative and qualitative mechanisms to measure our performance. This included an independent stakeholder survey and other stakeholder feedback mechanisms, data sources and statistics, project milestones and evidence-backed case studies.

Where case studies were used, the scope of the case study was predetermined and the performance measurement methodologies were identified in advance, in line with the Department of Finance Resource Management Guide No 131. All case studies are backed by supporting evidence and are used to help illustrate the Department’s performance story.

Independent stakeholder survey

PM&C engaged Orima Research to conduct an independent survey of key stakeholders to assess the Department’s performance against a number of key activities and to inform the PBS analysis.

The annual survey is an important feedback mechanism for the Department and results are analysed and used to improve our services and engagement with our stakeholders. This year 97 out of a sample size of 278 key stakeholders provided feedback on the Department’s performance through a quantitative online survey, representing a 35% response rate. An additional 27 qualitative individual interviews were also conducted.

Survey results

Survey results are included in the analysis of relevant key activities. Overall survey results also show that, on average:

  • Ministerial stakeholders reported the most favourable ratings of all stakeholders.
  • Ministerial stakeholders were satisfied overall with the quality and timeliness of advice and support received from PM&C over the past 12 months.
  • Across all purposes, level ratings were favourable. Purpose 1 (Growing our economy, incomes and creating jobs), Purpose 5 (Governing well) and Purpose 6 (Preparing well to respond to critical issues) achieved the highest ratings by a stakeholder group; while Purpose 2 (Vibrant and resilient regions) stakeholders provided generally favourable ratings along with feedback on where the Department could improve its engagement with stakeholders.

The independent survey highlighted a number of areas where the Department had performed well and where there were opportunities for further improvement. The Department thanks stakeholders for their feedback and will incorporate it into the Department’s performance management program.

Assessing performance results against key activities

Over the reporting period, business areas were responsible for tracking, monitoring and reporting their performance against their relevant key activities. They were required to use the predetermined performance methodology, gather evidence, assess their performance using the results criteria table below and then assign a results rating for each key activity. Where a performance measure was supported by a target (or targets), reporting against the target(s) was used to demonstrate performance against the measure and the key activity. Evidence and analysis was provided to support claims of achievement against each key activity.

This year, PM&C also introduced a performance moderation panel to review all reported results in the Annual Performance Statement. The panel assessed reported results to ensure the results criteria had been applied consistently across the statement and all claims of achievement were supported by appropriate evidence and analysis. The panel membership consisted of the Chief Operating Officer and 3 First Assistant Secretaries and was convened by the Assistant Secretary Governance and Strategy Branch, who is also the Department’s Head of Internal Audit.

Table 2.1: Results definitions

Achieved

In the 2020–21 reporting period, the Department delivered against the performance measure and/or target.

On track

The performance measure and/or target is on track to be met over the forward estimates.

Partially achieved

In the 2020–21 reporting period, the Department partially achieved against the performance measure and/or target.

Not achieved

In the 2020–21 reporting period, the performance measure and/or target was not met.

Operating environment

During 2020–21, PM&C supported the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and Portfolio Ministers on a range of Government priorities in a rapidly changing global and domestic operating environment. To enhance Commonwealth–state decision making and policy deliberation in this context, PM&C strengthened and matured processes to support the National Cabinet and its subcommittees.

In the global context, PM&C navigated the continued shift in strategic, security and geopolitical priorities as regions and countries responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. We supported the Prime Minister to advance Australia’s national interests by strengthening relationships with our partners in the Indo-Pacific region through a series of high-level meetings and summits – for example, the Quad Leaders’ Meeting, the G20 Summit, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Australia Summit.

As the virus continues to have ongoing health, economic and social impacts, domestically and internationally, the Department has continued to focus on supporting individuals and businesses through the impacts of the virus and towards economic recovery. PM&C continued our coordination and convening role on matters such as welfare support payments, vaccine rollout and strategic investments to ensure adequate support was provided to Australian businesses and communities. Through the Office for Women (OFW), we redoubled our efforts to improve practical outcomes for women in Australia, including through supporting the new Cabinet Taskforce on Women’s Safety and Economic Security. Together with the Department of the Treasury and others, we developed the 2021–22 Women’s Budget Statement. Our efforts will continue beyond 2021 to ensure key initiatives are implemented to enhance safety, improve career pathways and boost the economic security of women in Australia.

After experiencing the devastating natural disaster events of recent years – bushfires, droughts and floods across Australia – we refocused our efforts on disaster preparedness, recovery and resilience, and improved coordination of emergency management in times of crisis.

The advent of new ways of flexible working and our readiness to manage emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic instilled further connectedness among our staff and the broader Australian Public Service (APS) enterprise. We continued to leverage our public sector leadership role to drive a One APS approach to reduce silos across the APS enterprise and better support our Ministers to deliver for the community. We pursued our objective to enhance data sharing for enhanced policy making and access to the digital economy while protecting privacy to ensure citizens’ trust in the data and digital space.

To deliver well-considered advice on cross-cutting policy areas, we engaged with a wide range of stakeholders across agencies, jurisdictions and sectors. The following section provides an overall analysis of our performance under each Corporate Plan purpose.

Analysis of the Department’s performance against the Corporate Plan 2020–24

Overall, PM&C performed well against our purposes, key activities and performance measures set out in the Corporate Plan 2020–24. Of the 47 performance measures listed for the PM&C Corporate Plan 2020–24, PM&C achieved 29 measures, partially achieved 2 and are on track to deliver 16 over the life of the Corporate Plan.

Table 2.2: Results summary

Result

Purpose 1

Purpose 2

Purpose 3

Purpose 4

Purpose 5

Purpose 6

Total

Achieved

8

4

1

4

11

1

29

On track

1

-

9

-

2

4

16

Partially achieved

-

-

-

-

1

1

2

Not achieved

-

-

-

-

-

-

0

Purpose 1: Growing our economy, incomes and creating jobs

PM&C achieved 8 of the 9 performance measures under this purpose by supporting the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and key stakeholders to make significant decisions across a range of economic outcomes. One performance measure is on track to be delivered over the forward estimates. We supported Australia’s strategy for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by providing advice to support Budget decisions on the JobMaker Plan, the Deregulation Agenda, the Digital Economy Strategy, and by supporting investments in the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors. PM&C focused on delivering economic outcomes for Australian women through initiatives and projects led by the OFW, including as part of the 2020 Women’s Economic Security Statement and the 2021–22 Women’s Budget Statement.

We also supported the Prime Minister internationally to advance Australia’s strategic priorities and economic interests in partnership with our regional partners. We worked closely with a range of stakeholders across government to provide high-quality advice that supported the Prime Minister’s participation in international forums, including the G20 Summit, the G7 Summit, the ASEAN–Australia Summit, the East Asia Summit, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit and the Pacific Islands Forum.

Purpose 2: Building vibrant and resilient regions

PM&C achieved all performance measures listed under this purpose. We consulted with stakeholders, subject-matter experts and communities to support the delivery of funding initiatives for regional Australia. We delivered advice on place-based measures to support our regions – importantly, Northern Australia – and to support communities that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We supported the establishment of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency to be the lead agency to support regional communities affected by natural disasters and reduce future risks of disaster events. We worked closely with the National Soils Advocate on a range of activities to further strengthen policy makers’ understanding of soil sustainability and health. We also collaborated with the National Waste Taskforce in the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) to continue Australia’s commitment to reduce waste and increase domestic recycling.

Purpose 3: Strengthening families and communities

PM&C achieved one performance measure and is on track to deliver 9 of the performance measures listed under Purpose 3. We collaborated with line agencies to provide high-quality and timely advice focused on assisting vulnerable Australians and improving the wellbeing of communities. We leveraged our leadership role to work with Commonwealth agencies and across jurisdictions to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to minimise the health impact on the community, including coordinating COVID-19 support payments to support vulnerable Australians. To lay the groundwork for post-pandemic recovery, we collaborated with Commonwealth agencies and states and territories to support the delivery of the JobTrainer Fund and the National Skills Agreement, to ensure our communities are equipped to respond to demands in the future job market.

PM&C supported the Prime Minister’s Suicide Prevention Adviser and the Department of Health to deliver the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. We worked closely with the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) on implementation of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and governments to improve life outcomes and overcome structural inequality. By collaborating closely with the NIAA, we developed options and consultation processes for a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be recognised in the Australian Constitution.

The OFW continued to support the Minister for Women in implementing the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022, helping drive progress to increase the number of women in leadership positions; and leading Australia’s engagement in international forums to promote gender equality. The National Office for Child Safety continued to develop Australia’s first National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse, promote the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, and support Commonwealth agencies to implement the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework. PM&C supported the delivery of the Social Impact Investing Expert Panel’s final report to Government, with close engagement and extensive consultation to ensure project delivery despite delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Purpose 4: Enhance Australia’s international and national security

Under this purpose PM&C achieved all performance measures in a complex and rapidly shifting geopolitical environment. We supported the Prime Minister’s international engagement to promote Australia’s social, economic and security interests globally and in our region. While travel restrictions paused international travel, PM&C provided enabling services and high-quality briefings for the Prime Minister to maintain engagement with foreign counterparts virtually – in all a total of 140 virtual international engagements were held during 2020–21. We worked closely with our key stakeholders, including state and territory governments, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Defence and National Cabinet, to ensure a whole-of-nation approach to national security issues. We provided high-quality briefing support to the Secretaries Committee on National Security and the National Security Committee of Cabinet, and supported the Department of Defence’s delivery of the Integrated Investment Program and naval shipbuilding enterprise.

Purpose 5: Governing well

PM&C achieved 11 of the 14 performance measures under this purpose, with one partially achieved and 2 on track to be delivered over the forward estimates. We provided support to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the APS enterprise by scrutinising new policy proposals to comply with existing legislation and identify areas of significant risk. We ensured that the right protocols and operating procedures were put in place to support the smooth working of National Cabinet and the National Federation Reform Council. In October 2020 the Policy Implementation Committee was established; since then PM&C has provided timely and regular reports on the status of the implementation of Government priorities.

Against the continued backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, we adapted and stepped up to successfully plan and manage international visits, state funerals and Australia’s first virtual swearing-in ceremony following changes in the ministry. In conjunction with the Secretaries Board, we continued to progress reforms designed to improve the APS enterprise and ensure it is fit for purpose to meet a rapidly changing world.

Following the successful launch of the CabNet+ system in December 2019, the Department has continued to successfully roll out this application across the APS enterprise. Detailed feedback has been sought and implemented to further enhance useability and functionality to facilitate secure and timely distribution of Cabinet documents.

We have been at the forefront of developing the Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020, which is now before Parliament for consideration. Once this Bill is passed, government agencies will have a safe, accountable and transparent framework for sharing public sector data. PM&C has also worked across Commonwealth, state and territory agencies to identify opportunities where the sharing of data can better inform policy development and lead to better outcomes for the public.

Purpose 6: Preparing well to respond to critical issues

PM&C achieved one of the 6 performance measures under this purpose, with one partially achieved and 4 on track to be delivered over the forward estimates. In developing the Corporate Plan 2020­–24, we added Purpose 6 to highlight PM&C’s convening role in supporting the Government and the Australian community during emergency and crisis events. During 2020–21, we directed resources into developing the capability of establishing new taskforces quickly in response to emerging issues. This preparatory work ensures taskforces comply with governance principles, are fit for purpose and are connected with the right enabling services.

PM&C actively worked on recommendations from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Climate and Disaster Resilience Report and the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, by providing advice and working collaboratively with other departments and across jurisdictions. For instance, we provided advice to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on the establishment of the new National Recovery and Resilience Agency; this initiative addresses one of the recommendations of both the Royal Commission and the CSIRO report.

Case study: Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements – Commonwealth response

In late 2019, based on the fire events in October 2019, the Australian Government began examining initiatives to enhance Commonwealth governance and service delivery arrangements during natural crises. On 20 February 2020, after the devastating 2019–2020 bushfires, a Royal Commission into National Natural Disasters was established to inquire into and report on natural disaster management coordination.

The Royal Commission was tasked with delivering its final report by 31 August 2020, later amended to 28 October 2020. This was an ambitious schedule in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, given the requirements to call for submissions, consult widely, analyse witness testimonies and make recommendations on how national coordination, capability and resilience arrangements could be improved.

PM&C’s objective was to prepare whole-of-government submissions to the Royal Commission, prepare key Commonwealth witnesses and consolidate the Government’s response to the recommendations in the report before the end of 2020.

The Commonwealth’s commitment to improving national governance and supporting the Australian public during natural disasters of national scale was on full display through the dedicated and focused efforts of the Government and bureaucracy in engaging with the Royal Commission’s work. The Commonwealth was at the forefront among Australian governments in its engagement with the Royal Commission, taking every opportunity to appear as a witness before it and to respond to and seek to implement the recommendations of relevance to the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth published its responses to the Royal Commission’s 80 recommendations on 13 November 2020 and has focused attention on delivering against the highest priority recommendations as agreed by the National Federation Reform Council on 11 December 2020.

The Commonwealth governance arrangements are also being reformed to address some of the Royal Commission recommendations, including:

  • the creation of a permanent recovery, relief and resilience agency, planned to commence operation from 1 July 2021
  • the enhancement of Emergency Management Australia through delivery of new common operating picture capabilities and streamlined governance frameworks for state and territory engagement
  • the creation of a new science-based data analysis centre
  • the introduction of the National Emergency Declaration Act 2020.

At the start of the 2021–2022 high-risk weather season, the Commonwealth will be better positioned to support delivery of relief and recovery capabilities to Australians involved in nationally significant natural disasters that exceed the resources of state and territory jurisdictions affected by them. These new Commonwealth arrangements will appear in version 3 of the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework, scheduled for release in July 2021.

Portfolio Budget Statements outcomes

As outlined in the PBS, PM&C’s role is to provide policy advice and support to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Portfolio Ministers and Assistant Ministers on matters that are at the forefront of public and government administration. The PBS lists one outcome for the Department:

Outcome 1 – Provide high quality policy advice and support to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Portfolio Ministers and Assistant Ministers including through the coordination of government activities, policy development and program delivery.

Program 1.1 – Prime Minister and Cabinet

The objectives of this program are to:

  • provide advice, support and services to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Portfolio Ministers and Assistant Ministers, and coordination across Government, on major domestic, international and national security matters.
  • provide support to the Cabinet and its committees, the Federal Executive Council and the National Federation Reform Council to facilitate informed decision making.

Delivery

This program is delivered through the provision of advice, support and services to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Portfolio Ministers, Assistant Ministers and/or the Federal Executive Council and through leadership and coordinated public sector responses to Government decisions and strategic priorities.

Performance information

Year

Performance criteria

Targets

2020–21

  1. Quality and timely policy advice, support and services to the Prime Minister, Portfolio Ministers, the Cabinet and key stakeholders.
  2. Effective public sector leadership, coordination and monitoring of responses to Government decisions, policies and strategic priorities.

Majority of stakeholder feedback indicates satisfaction with the quality and timeliness of advice and support received.

Case studies, surveys, stakeholder feedback and data analysis demonstrate performance criteria have been achieved.

Purposes

1. Growing jobs, incomes and the economy

2. Resilient regions and caring for Country

3. Strengthening families and communities

4. Enhancing Australia’s international and national security

5. Governing well

6. Proactive response to critical issues and disaster management and recovery

Result

Achieved

Analysis

Criterion 1

During 2020–21, PM&C provided timely advice, support and services to our key stakeholders. We leveraged our public sector leadership role to build a responsive and proactive APS enterprise that closely supports the Government’s decision-making process in an evolving operating environment.

We provided high-quality support and briefings to the Prime Minister, the National Cabinet and Portfolio Ministers. We effectively collaborated with our stakeholders to support the Government in addressing wide-ranging and significant issues, including economic recovery, international engagements, gender equality, and improving the wellbeing of Australians.

Ministerial stakeholders provided highly positive feedback on the quality and timeliness of advice we provided.

Of the 16 performance measures that relate to this criterion, PM&C achieved 13, is on track to deliver 2 over the forward estimates, and partially met one. These performance measures are listed under the following headings:

Key activities achieved:

1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.8, 4.1, 5.1, 5.3, 5.4, 5.7, 5.10.1 and 5.10.2

Key activities on track:

3.7 and 5.2

Key activities partially achieved:

5.5

Criterion 2

Throughout 2020–21, PM&C performed well against this performance criterion, with the majority of performance measures either achieved or on track to be delivered over the forward estimates. To deliver against this criterion PM&C consulted widely with stakeholders, including government, the APS enterprise, the private sector and the Australian community. This included seeking the views of a diverse range of stakeholders to inform well-considered policy advice.

External stakeholders surveyed by Orima Research were satisfied overall with PM&C’s consultations, collaboration and delivery of timely and high-quality advice and enabling services. Ministerial stakeholders provided highly positive feedback on the quality and timeliness of advice we provided.

In October 2020, PM&C undertook a new responsibility – to support the newly established Policy Implementation Committee (PIC) of National Cabinet. We worked closely with line agencies to assess policy risks and issues to enable the PIC to review and address them.

Of the 30 performance measures that relate to this criterion, PM&C achieved 15, is on track to deliver 14 over the forward estimates, and partially met one. These performance measures are listed under the following headings:

Key activities achieved:

1.3, 1.7, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.8, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.8, 5.9, 5.11, 5.12 and 6.2

Key activities on track:

1.9, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5.1, 3.5.2, 3.5.3, 3.6, 5.6, 6.1, 6.3, 6.5 and 6.6

Key activities partially achieved:

6.4