The Official Secretary, in his role as Chief Executive Officer and accountable authority, is accountable for the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of resources and the achievement of the highest possible performance from the Office. The Office’s Management Committee assists the Official Secretary to meet his statutory responsibilities under the Governor-GeneralAct 1974 and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The Office recognises the need for a high level of accountability and monitors compliance with the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework and finance law. There were no instances of significant non-compliance with finance law during 2019–20.
The Deputy Official Secretary, assisted by the branch Directors and the Chief Financial Officer, supports the Official Secretary’s overall governance responsibilities by facilitating the development of corporate and business plans; establishing policy and accountability frameworks; managing risk, fraud and security planning; setting frameworks for advising on people management; managing industrial relations; managing information and communications technology; and overseeing budget management of the Office. The People and Services branch manages the official properties and coordinates physical and cyber security services.
To support the Official Secretary, the Office has several committees:
Management Committee (including the Property Sub-Committee, Information Technology Sub-Committee and the Security Sub-Committee)
Workplace Consultative Committee (WCC)
Work Health and Safety Committee.
The Management Committee comprises the Official Secretary as Chief Executive Officer; the Deputy Official Secretary as Deputy Chief Executive Officer; the Directors of the People and Services, Honours and Awards, and the Strategic Engagement branches; and the Chief Financial Officer. The group meets monthly and considers strategic issues affecting the Office, including any emerging or ongoing risks, and monitors the delivery of performance outcomes for the Office.
The Property Sub-Committee was established in response to meeting the integral requirements and responsibilities of the stewardship of the Official Heritage Properties.Membership includes the Deputy Official Secretary as the chairperson, Director People and Services, Manager Property and Services, Project Managers and the Chief Financial Officer. Responsibilities of the committee include overseeing the delivery and progress of the Property Works Program to achieve project and property outcomes within scope and on budget.
The Information Technology Sub-Committee was established in response to the growing and complex information technology needs of the Office necessitated by the Office’s current operating environment. Membership includes the Deputy Official Secretary as the chairperson, Director People and Services, Chief Financial Officer and the IT Manager. Responsibilities of the committee include developing the IT strategic plan, prioritising projects, and overseeing the delivery and progress of the IT program in accordance with the IT strategic plan.
The Security Sub-Committee was established in response to meeting the integral requirements and responsibilities of physical, personal and information security. Membership includes the Deputy Official Secretary as the chairperson, Director People and Services, Security and Business Continuity Coordinator, Manager Property and Services, Manager HR and the Manager IT. Responsibilities of the committee include implementation, delivery and progress of security projects and initiatives, the Security Management Plan, the Security Planning Program and Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) performance.
The three-person Audit Committee (with majority external members) is responsible for providing independent assurance and assistance to the Official Secretary on the Office’s risk oversight, control and compliance frameworks and performance and financial accountability. The Audit Committee comprises an independent external Chair, an independent external member and the Deputy Official Secretary.
The WCC, representing all staff of the Office, continues to provide a forum for management and employees to discuss matters affecting the workplace. Meetings of the WCC are chaired alternately by a representative of the Official Secretary and a representative of employees.
The membership of the WCC comprises:
the Official Secretary or nominee
one other management representative
five employee representatives
one union workplace delegate
one union official.
The Work Health and Safety Committee is chaired by the Director of the People and Services branch. Membership includes management representatives and health and safety representatives from across the Office. The Committee’s responsibility is to facilitate discussion and cooperation on work health and safety (WHS) issues in the workplace.
FIGURE 2: STRATEGIC PLANNING FRAMEWORK
The Office’s Corporate Plan 2019–20 is both a statement of its corporate vision, strategy and objectives, and a business plan. It aims to bring together planning and other strategic and operational activities and to articulate the linkages between them. It is a four-year rolling plan, updated annually, which distils the Office’s objectives into a high-level action plan for the current year.
RISK MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK
The Office’s Risk Management Plan identifies the business risks the Office manages in order to achieve its objectives. Individual risk assessments are completed for projects, events and other operational activities.
Risk management is an integral part of sound management practice and an essential element of good governance. The Office actively manages risk in accordance with its Risk Management Plan. Its key strategic risks focus on:
support for the Governor-General
managing internal and external events
advising the Governor-General on a broad range of matters
developing and executing an effective community engagement program
effective administration of the Australian honours and awards system
effective stewardship of the official properties
maintaining and executing efficient and effective management systems
building and maintaining a strong, capable and engaged workforce.
The Deputy Official Secretary performs the role of the Chief Risk Officer for the Office. In accordance with the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy, the Office regularly reviews its risk management framework, risk register, settings and supporting plans to ensure risks are appropriately identified and risk controls are effectively implemented. Management and mitigation of these risks is further reinforced through the Office’s daily operations and administrative practices.
The Office continued to participate in Comcover’s risk benchmarking program, which measures the effectiveness of agencies’ risk management frameworks, practices and systems against a set of key result areas. The Office’s result for 2019–20 was a maturity level of Advanced, which reflects the Office’s high level of maturity and competence in this field.
FRAUD CONTROL FRAMEWORK
The Office maintains a comprehensive Fraud Risk Assessment and Fraud Control Plan and has embedded fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes. The Fraud Control Plan is regularly reviewed and updated, with the Office being fully committed to complying with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework to minimise the incidence of fraud through the development, implementation and regular review of a range of fraud prevention and detection strategies.
There were no known incidents of fraud in 2019–20.
The Office worked closely with the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Federal Police to identify issues and act on advice in managing the physical, personnel and information security environments at Government House and Admiralty House. New capabilities and revised security protocols have been implemented and refined where necessary. Cyber security issues were managed in accordance with Australian Signals Directorate guidance. The Office’s maturity in relation to the requirements of the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) was reviewed and work has been undertaken to action the recommendations. The Office has recently created and filled a Security and Business Continuity Coordinator role to improve our maturity and management of these fields.
The Office operates under a five-year internal audit plan which is updated on a regular basis through input from the Office’s Audit Committee. The audits are prioritised in response to changing operational and strategic requirements that take into account the Office’s risk profile.
During 2019–20 the engagement of RSM and McGrathNicol (McN) for the provision of internal audit services continued.
RSM were contracted to provide internal audit services comprising control and compliance testing and reviews. In 2019–20, RSM conducted the following reviews in accordance with the agreed audit program:
Honours key performance indicators (KPI)
Honours business support system.
In 2019–20, McN undertook the following reviews in accordance with the agreed audit program:
On 6 October 2020, the ANAO provided an unmodified audit opinion on the Office’s 2019–20 financial statements.
The Office was not the subject of any agency-specific audits by the Auditor-General’s Office, or investigations or reviews by a parliamentary committee or the Commonwealth Ombudsman during 2019–20.
The Office maintains a whole-of-office Business Continuity Plan, which is supported by individual business area plans. These plans are reviewed, updated and tested regularly.
As part of its business continuity planning, the Office also implemented a COVID-19 Action Plan in response to the global pandemic. This plan identified areas of business criticality in order to enable key functions of the Governor-General to continue and ensured available resources were being utilised in the most effective and efficient manner while abiding by COVID-19 restrictions. The Office carried out a one-day remote working trial ahead of moving to a Minimum On Site Staffing model between late March and early June. This exercise tested business continuity and provided helpful insights to inform the Office’s COVID-19 Action Plan and remote working arrangements.
Standards of appropriate behaviour for staff of the Office are set out in the Office’s Code of Conduct and Workplace Behaviours Policy, which were endorsed in the Enterprise Agreement 2015–2018, as well as in previous agreements. This continues until 2021 under a further determination. The Code of Conduct reflects the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct and Values as set out in the Public Service Act 1999. Our values are integral to building and maintaining a safe, positive and inclusive culture of high performance and leadership. All staff are required to comply with the Code of Conduct including, at all times, to behave in a way that upholds the values, integrity and reputation of the Office.
In 2018 staff of the Office voted to continue the terms of the 2015–18 Enterprise Agreement for a further three years. On 12 September 2018, the Australian Public Service Commissioner approved the Office’s remuneration proposaland Determination 2018/01. This Determination applies in addition to the Enterprise Agreement 2015–2018. The Determination provides staff with increases to their existing salaries, to the effect of six per cent over three years, while maintaining the terms and conditions under the Enterprise Agreement 2015–18. The Enterprise Agreement is accessible on the Office’s intranet.
Shortly after the reporting period, on 17 July 2020, the Australian Public Service Commissioner approved Determination 2020/01. This Determination revokes Determination 2018/01 which provided general wage increases and deferred the wage increase that was due on 13 January 2021 until 13 July 2021. This was consistent with the Bargaining Policy and APSC advice regarding a six-month deferral of wage increases due to COVID-19.
Financial management and accountability requirements for the Office are set out in Accountable Authority Instructions (AAIs), which are issued by the Official Secretary under the PGPA Act and developed in line with the model AAIs issued by the Department of Finance. The AAIs are cross-referenced to relevant parts of the Act to ensure that staff are fully aware of their legal obligations. The AAIs are available to all staff on the Office’s intranet.
The Office’s procurement policy and guidelines establish clear standards of ethical behaviour for all staff responsible for procurement.