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Financial management and business assurance

Financial management and business assurance

The National Gallery receives ongoing funding from the Australian Government to support increased understanding, knowledge and enjoyment of the visual arts by providing access to, and information about, works of art locally, nationally and internationally.
In 2018–19, the Gallery received $45 million in operating funding to safeguard and exhibit its important national art collection.

The Gallery also receives capital funding through an equity injection from the Australian Government for the development and acquisition of the national collection and capital works. During 2018–19, the Gallery received a total equity injection of $28.9 million for development and acquisition of the national collection, capital works and capital maintenance of the Gallery’s main building in Parkes, Canberra.

During 2018–19, the Gallery developed a five-year Financial Sustainability Strategy, which underpins its commitment to building financial sustainability, capacity and growth for its operations, capital investment and balance‑sheet management.

The strategy includes:

  • developing a five-year balanced operating budget that manages risk and uncertainty
  • quarantining funding for depreciation and amortisation expense to replace non-financial assets and build cash reserves
  • building capacity and cash reserves by maximising revenue from other sources
  • developing a five-year capital budget that supports development of the national collection, asset replacement and IT investment in projects with positive returns
  • strong balance-sheet management.

Financial assets

At 30 June 2019, the Gallery had $34.1 million in cash, an increase from $19.7 million at 30 June 2018. Investments increased since 30 June 2018 from $1.7 million to $21 million, while net trade and other receivables increased from $0.8 million at 30 June 2018 to $1.1 million. The Gallery finished the financial year with $56.6 million in financial assets, which is an increase from $22.4 million at 30 June 2018.

Non-financial assets

The total value of non-financial assets decreased from $6.303 billion last year to $6.289 billion this year.

Heritage and cultural assets

Heritage and cultural assets include the national collection of works of art, valued at $5.939 billion, and the Research Library and Archives collection, valued at $40.9 million. An independent assessment of heritage and cultural assets is undertaken annually to ensure the collection is reflected at fair value in the Gallery’s financial statements. The Gallery continues to attract private support for the development of the national collection, receiving $8.1 million in cash donations to assist with purchases and gifts of works of art valued at $5.3 million.

Land, building, infrastructure, plant and equipment

Land and building assets are valued at $303.5 million and plant and equipment are valued at $4.2 million.

The Gallery’s main building in Parkes was originally completed in 1981. Most of the building is in its original form, although two extensions have been added including the Temporary Exhibition Gallery and a new front entrance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander galleries.

The building is regularly maintained as part of normal operations. However, major upgrades are now required to refurbish and replace significant parts of building infrastructure, plant and equipment identified as having reached their end of life. A major capital works program commenced in 2018–19 and is expected to be complete in the 2020–21 financial year. The Gallery received funding of $21.5 million from the Australian Government in 2017–18 over three years to address critical building issues.

The Gallery’s Capital Works Funding Report (CWFR) identified fifty-four priority projects requiring critical attention over a three-year period, the estimated cost of which is $46.8 million. A funding allocation of $25.5 million ($4 million from the Gallery’s internal budget and $21.5 million made available through a combination of New Policy Proposal funds valued at $16.55 million and a Department of Communications and the Arts grant of $4.95 million) allows for thirty-one of the most critical projects to be delivered by 30 June 2021.

In 2018–19, the Gallery commenced work on planning and delivery of these projects, prioritising them based on risk to the national art collection, security, work health and safety, public safety and compliance and the Gallery’s exhibitions program. The Gallery is delivering nine of the projects, while the remaining twenty‑two projects, are being planned and delivered by an external managing contractor, Manteena Commercial, appointed in February 2019 following a two-stage request-for-expression-for-interest-and-request-for-tender process. Five projects were completed in 2018–19, a further twenty are scheduled for completion in 2019–20 and the remainder are to be completed in 2020–21.

The Gallery is also working on two minor works projects. The first is the conversion of the Small Theatre into the Tim Fairfax Studio. Due for completion in October 2019, the project will result in a multi-use studio space capable of hosting creative workshops and other events for children and adults. The Tim Fairfax Studio will be a fully inclusive space and has a design emphasis on accessibility and functionality.

The second of the minor works projects is the refurbishment of the Gallery’s James Fairfax Theatre to improve its functionality, atmosphere, comfort and performance. The space will be a respectful interpretation of original Gallery architect Colin Madigan’s design while transforming it into an inclusive and accessible asset with improved acoustic performance, presenter supper spaces and upgraded audiovisual technology. The refurbishment is scheduled for completion in mid February 2020.


The Gallery’s financial liabilities consist of leave provisions for employees, salaries and wages payable, supplier payables and unearned income. At 30 June 2019, liabilities totalled $12.4 million, including provisions of $6 million and payables of $6.4 million. Internal policies and procedures ensure appropriate resources are available to meet the Gallery’s financial obligations as and when they fall due.


The security of the national art collection, the Gallery and its staff and visitors was maintained during the year. Security risks were regularly reviewed, and improvements were made to systems, procedures, policies and practices. In line with the Australian National Audit Office’s review of the Gallery’s collection management practices, the Gallery has implemented upgrades regarding its security systems along with an upgrade to the CCTV system.

The Gallery continues to review its security processes and has recently commenced a security risk review of the organisation that includes evaluation against the Protective Security Policy Framework criteria and the National Counter Terrorism Committee guidelines pertaining to crowded spaces.

Business continuity

The Gallery’s Business Continuity Plan was comprehensively updated in 2018–19. This was done in consultation with all Department Heads and relevant stakeholders across the organisation. All nine components of the plan were revised, incorporating business continuity activation, the business continuity risk management plan, the emergency response plan, the IT disaster recovery plan and the emergency response plan testing schedule.

Outsourcing and procurement

Contractors and consultants are engaged when either:

  • services are not available in-house due to insufficient expertise or resources or because the services are not required on an ongoing basis
  • the Gallery requires independent advice or oversight
  • for other beneficial reasons.

The Gallery’s practices and procedures are consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and best practice principles. Services outsourced include cleaning, legal, internal auditing, printing, casual security, construction and painting and market research. No contracts of $100,000 or more were executed where the Auditor-General did not have access to the contractor’s premises if required.