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Corporate governance

The Commonwealth Resource Management Framework governs how the Commonwealth public sector uses and manages public resources. The framework is an important feature of an accountable and transparent public sector and informs the Australian people of the daily work of Commonwealth entities and their employees.

We are well positioned to manage our resources, risks and performance in accordance with the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework. Fundamental to this is our strong and efficient governance structure which provides a high level of transparency and accountability for our objectives and performance. We also ensure that we proactively manage our risks by integrating risk management principles into all critical management processes.

Executive Group

The Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity with a Board comprising a Chair, Deputy Chair, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and four other members. The Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Board (the Board) is the accountable authority under the Commonwealth Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act). The Board is responsible for the overall governance of the OTA in delivering the Australian Government’s national program to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation outcomes in Australia.

Section 13B of the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Act 2008 (amended in 2016) outlines the functions of the Board as:

  • to ensure the proper, efficient and effective performance of the Authority’s functions
  • to determine objectives, strategies and policies to be followed by the Authority
  • such other functions as are conferred on the Board by this Act or any other law
  • such other functions (if any) as are determined in an instrument made under subsection (2) and given by the Minister to the Chair
  • to do anything incidental or conducive to the performance of any of the above functions.

In addition to the CEO, our Executive Leadership Team comprises the National Medical Director, the General Manager and Business Unit Directors.

This Executive Leadership Team provides guidance and leadership on our overall direction and responsibilities. Members provide advice to the CEO on governance matters, including financial and operational issues, risk and security management, fraud control, strategic information, technology matters, and people management.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee provides independent assurance to the Board on the OTA’s financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, and systems of internal control.

Our Audit Committee is established in compliance with Section 45 of the PGPA Act, and is chaired by an independent member, Mr Peter Hoefer. Members include Ms Gayle Ginnane, as the independent external member, and Mr Tim Kreukniet as the internal member. Representatives from the Australian National Audit Office and our internal auditors are invited to attend each meeting.

Ms Glenys Roper resigned from the Audit Committee in 2018 following a nine-year tenure. Ms Roper’s contribution has been invaluable and will be missed. We thank Glenys for her work with us and wish her all the best for the future.

A continuing agenda item for 2018–19 was program risk presentations by our senior staff. These presentations provided the Audit Committee with an assurance that adequate controls and risk mitigation strategies were in place.

Internal audit arrangements

Our internal audit responsibilities are performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), with oversight by the Audit Committee. PwC is committed to promoting and improving our corporate governance by conducting audits and investigations and by making recommendations through the endorsed 2018–19 Strategic Internal Audit Plan. The contract with PwC includes the provision of ad hoc advice to management on a range of issues.

PwC conducted the Organ Donation Hospital Support Funding Review in 2018–19.

The Audit Committee continued to monitor the implementation of internal audit report recommendations through PwC’s regular status report presentations.

Fraud control

We take fraudulent and corrupt conduct seriously, with a zero tolerance approach to such behaviour. We have taken all reasonable measures to prevent, detect and deal with fraud, as required by PGPA Rule 10, and we regularly evaluate the effectiveness of our fraud control strategies.

Fraud against the Commonwealth is a criminal offence. It reduces the funds available for delivering programs, can undermine the integrity of the public’s confidence in government, and can place public safety at risk. We understand that the Australian community rightly expects entities and officials to acknowledge and fulfil their responsibilities as stewards of public funds and we make every effort to protect public resources.

Our Fraud Control Plan identifies our approach to prevention, detection, reporting and investigation measures. It addresses the application of appropriate actions to remedy the harm from fraud, recovery of the proceeds of fraudulent activity, and annual mandatory fraud awareness training for all staff. It also addresses external scrutiny of – and accountability for – fraud control activities.

Our Fraud Control Plan complies with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Policy and aligns with Resource Management Guide No. 201 – Preventing, detecting and dealing with fraud. There were no fraud instances investigated by the OTA during 2018–19.

Fraud certificate signed by the Organ and Tissue Authority Chair as the accountable authority

Risk management

Embedding risk management into decision-making and performance management processes enables us to plan and to respond appropriately to new challenges and opportunities. It also helps us to make well-informed decisions in achieving our purpose of increasing access to organ and tissue transplants and enabling better health outcomes for all Australians.

Our risk management framework complies with the requirements of the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and the PGPA Act and maintains appropriate systems of risk oversight, management and internal control. We recognise that the foundation of our risk management framework is a positive risk culture. We continue to develop this culture through open and honest communication about risk, and by supporting and encouraging good risk management.

We have defined our risk appetite and tolerance within our risk management policy. We have continual reporting and monitoring processes in place to ensure we are working within these levels, and that the defined levels continue to be appropriate. This process highlights where additional mitigation strategies and/or controls are required and where the level of acceptable risk may need to be reviewed.

Monitoring of risks involves comparing our risk exposure against our defined risk appetite and adjusting decision-making, resourcing or activities to better align the two.

Formal monitoring and reporting structures include:

  • our Annual Performance Statement
  • quarterly reporting to our accountable authority on overall risk exposure and alignment with risk policy
  • quarterly risk reporting to the Audit Committee
  • reviewing project/program-specific risk assessment plans on a needs basis, with reporting to the General Manager. More frequent reporting is completed when required – for example, in response to new or emerging risk areas, or significant changes in the risk environment.

We recognise that effective risk management is a critical component of sound corporate governance, particularly in relation to the delivery of outcomes, transparency, and accountability to the portfolio Ministers and the Parliament.

External scrutiny

We are committed to transparency and accountability and we welcome external scrutiny.

During 2018–19 there were:

  • no judicial decisions, decisions of administrative tribunals, or decisions by the Australian Information Commissioner that have had, or may have, a significant impact on our operations
  • no reports on our operations by a parliamentary committee or the Commonwealth Ombudsman
  • no legal actions lodged against us.

Other scrutiny

We were not required to appear before the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee (Senate Estimates) in 2018–19.

We welcome feedback, research, insight and other forms of scrutiny from the general public and community organisations, as this plays an important role in guiding the donation and transplantation sector.