Our operations are primarily governed by the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). Other legislation and policy also governs our work, including workplace relations legislation and Australian Government protective security policies.
Under the Parliamentary Service Act and the PGPA Act, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is accountable for the PBO’s performance and compliance with legislative requirements.
The key elements of our governance framework are the PBO Executive, the Audit Committee and a risk management framework. We also participate in Parliament House-wide governance arrangements.
We strengthened our governance framework and internal policies and procedures during the year. Key focus areas were: fraud risk management; business continuity; and work, health and safety. We worked with the other parliamentary departments on the remaking of the Archives (Records of Parliament) Regulations 2019, which came into effect in March 2019.
We refined our performance measures to more clearly outline how we monitor and measure what we did (output); how well we did it (quality and/or efficiency); and what the benefits were (impact). These are reflected in our Corporate Plan 2019–20.
The PBO Executive—consisting of the Parliamentary Budget Officer and all SES officers —meets weekly to consider PBO-wide issues, to monitor performance and to manage risk.
The Executive considers key performance information on a regular basis, including the status of outstanding requests for policy costings and budget analyses, the timeliness of our responses, the status of requests for information made to Commonwealth agencies, progress of the research program, and citations in the media.
The Executive also considers risks on a rolling basis to monitor any changes in the risk environment and update risk ratings and treatments accordingly.
In accordance with our Information Governance Framework, the Executive serves as the Information Governance Committee, ensuring that information governance is managed and driven by key personnel within the organisation.
The Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the Parliamentary Budget Officer about the PBO’s governance arrangements. The Committee comprises two independent members (including the chair) and the Assistant Parliamentary Budget Officer, Program Analysis Branch. The Committee met four times during the financial year. The Assistant Parliamentary Budget Officer, Corporate Strategy Branch; Chief Financial Officer; representatives from the Australian National Audit Office; and the PBO’s internal auditors also attended these meetings.
Risk management forms an integral part of the PBO’s governance and internal planning arrangements.
We undertook a review of our strategic and fraud risks and updated and documented these in our risk management plans. We continue to embed risk management practices at all levels by considering operational risks in our divisional and branch work planning processes.
We also manage risks in specialised areas, including the monitoring of specific security, fraud and project risks.
During the year we undertook a business continuity exercise which provided us with an opportunity to test our business continuity management framework and policy.
Fraud prevention and control
In 2018–19 the PBO took all reasonable measures to minimise the incidence of fraud. We undertook a fraud risk assessment, updated the PBO’s fraud control policy and continued to monitor the identified fraud risks. No incidences of fraud were detected.
Provision of corporate services to the PBO
To maximise the staff and resources dedicated to core functions, the PBO has shared services arrangements with other parliamentary departments for the delivery of most of the PBO’s corporate services.
During 2018–19, the Department of the Senate continued to provide the PBO’s financial transaction processing and payroll services. The PBO’s information and communication technology (ICT) services continued to be provided by Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS).
The four parliamentary department heads meet on a regular basis to discuss matters relating to governance, policy and operational matters of significance to the departments.
We also participate in a range of interdepartmental committees through which the parliamentary departments co-ordinate common and joint activities, particularly in relation to human resources, ICT and other corporate matters.