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Structure, governance and authority in the blood sector

Governance Arrangements

The key governing bodies in the Australian blood sector and their roles and relationships are set out in the National Blood Agreement and National Blood Authority Act 2003, and depicted in Figure 3.1.

FIGURE 3.1 Governance and Authority in the Blood Sector Chart showing governance and authority in the blood sector

The NBA exists within the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister for Health. The NBA General Manager is the Chief Executive of the NBA and is a statutory officer responsible to the Commonwealth Minister for Health and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council.

On 29 May 2020 the Prime Minister announced that COAG would cease and a new National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) would be formed, with a National Cabinet at the centre of the NFRC. More information is available on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.

Establishment of the National Blood Authority

The National Blood Agreement between all funding governments outlines the policy framework for the current national blood arrangements. The Agreement outlines the:

  • nationally agreed objectives of governments for the blood sector (primary and secondary)
  • governance arrangements for the sector
  • administrative arrangements for the management of the national blood supply
  • financial arrangements for the national blood supply.

The NBA emerged from the 2001 Review of the Australian Blood Banking and Plasma Product Sector undertaken by Sir Ninian Stephen. The Stephen Review noted the need for changes to the inconsistent and fragmented arrangements that applied to the blood sector at that time. More specifically, there were 30 agreements in existence between the governments, the Blood Service (at the time, now Lifeblood) and CSL. In addition, supply costs had tripled between 1991 and 1999.

The Stephen Review recommended the strengthening of the arrangements for the coordination and oversight of Australia's blood supply, including the establishment of a National Blood Authority to manage Australia's blood supply at a national level.

Negotiations to develop a national management framework commenced in June 2001 in consultation with the states, territories and other key interest groups.

Commonwealth legislation allowing for the establishment of the NBA passed through both Houses of Parliament and the new Authority came into existence on 1 July 2003.

NBA Governance Committees

An overview of the NBA Governance structure is shown in Figure 3.2.

FIGURE 3.2 Governance and Authority in the NBA Chart showing governance and authority in the NBA

Three committees assist the NBA Chief Executive to plan and manage corporate governance, outcome delivery, strategic projects and stakeholder interests:

The NBA Business Committee is the primary governance committee for the NBA. It provides strategic oversight and direction for the management of the NBA and its business and finance activities.

The role of the NBA Business Committee is to:

  • support and advise the Chief Executive
  • provide strategic leadership, guidance and direction in relation to all business activities and processes and also in relation to people management, financial management and ICT issues
  • review NBA business plans and activities, and monitor progress regularly against key milestones and deliverables
  • consider NBA investment priorities and review these priorities on a regular basis
  • oversee relevant sub-committees and project boards.

The Committee comprises the Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executives, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Information Officer and Director, People and Communications. The Committee is chaired by the Chief Executive and supported by the Executive Office. Other staff may be required to attend meetings for relevant agenda items.

The NBA Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) provides independent advice and assurance to the Chief Executive on strategies to enhance the organisation's governance control and risk management framework, assist with planning and conducting the NBA internal audit program and support financial and legislative compliance. The Committee met six times in 2019-20.

The ARC membership in 2019-20 was as follows:

  • Mr Ken Barker (Chair) resigned 18 September 2019
  • Mr Paul Bedbrook (Board representative)
  • Mrs Roslyn Jackson (Chair from 19 September 2019)
  • Mr Greg Fraser.

Short biographies for each member can be found in Appendix 1: Committee and Board Member Profiles.

The ARC Charter is approved by the NBA Chief Executive and is regularly reviewed in conjunction with the ARC. The ARC undertakes an annual process of performance self-assessment. The Charter can be found on the NBA website at https://www.blood.gov.au/committees-and-working-groups.

The NBA Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executives, and Chief Financial Officer maintain an active engagement with the ARC and attend ARC meetings. This provides relevant organisational input and context to assist the deliberations of the ARC and enhances the direct benefit of the advice provided by the ARC.

Representatives from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and the NBA internal auditors (currently RSM (Australia)) also attend meetings as observers for most matters.

The ARC Charter defines four primary areas of focus. In 2019-20 matters considered by the ARC included:

  • Financial reporting
    • NBA consideration of the implications of revised accounting standards
    • engagement with NBA management and ANAO in relation to the annual financial statements audit, including formal clearance of annual financial statements
  • Performance reporting
    • NBA Corporate Plan, Business Plan and Operational Scorecard
    • NBA annual performance KPIs and reporting
  • Systems of risk oversight and management
    • NBA strategic risk management and business continuity framework
    • NBA fraud control framework
    • Comcover benchmark reporting
    • National Managed Fund investment framework and performance
  • Systems of internal control
    • Annual internal audit work plan, reports, and implementation of recommendations, including internal audits in relation to:
      • national blood sector research and development program review
      • official travel allowances review.

The Staff Participation Forum (SPF) provides a forum for the NBA to consult directly with its employees and representatives about significant decisions that affect their working lives. The SPF is a group comprised of NBA staff representatives, NBA management representatives and a Work Health and Safety representative. The SPF meets quarterly.

NBA Management

As at 30 June 2020, the NBA Executive Management team comprised the following:

  • Chief Executive – Mr John Cahill
  • Deputy Chief Executive, Commercial Blood Products and Business Services – Mr Michael Stone
  • Deputy Chief Executive, Fresh Blood Products and Business Systems – Ms Elizabeth Quinn.

As at 30 June 2020, the NBA was comprised of two business streams, Commercial Blood Products and Business Services and Fresh Blood Products and Business Systems.

The teams in the two streams are:

Commercial Blood Products and Business Services:

  • Commercial Blood Products
  • Immunoglobulin Governance
  • Research and Product Review
  • Finance and Business Services
  • People and Communications
  • Legal Services.

Fresh Blood Products and Business Systems:

  • Blood and Data Services
  • Blood Operations Centre
  • Fresh Blood Products and Services
  • Information Technology Services
  • Risk Management.

Internal Audit and Risk

The NBA's internal audit and risk program, guided by the ARC, plays a key part in risk mitigation. The ARC reviews the risk register on an annual basis as a key input in developing the internal audit and risk program.

RSM (Australia) conducted a range of audits and reviews in line with the work program developed in conjunction with the ARC. The 2019-20 work program encompassed reviews of the NBA's:

  • National Blood Sector Research and Development Program
  • official travel allowance
  • employee remuneration.

The ARC continued to monitor the implementation of internal audit report recommendations through status reports.