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 Corporate governance

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Governance framework

The department's governance framework provides a structure that ensures transparency, accountability and integrity as well as encouraging efficient and ethical behaviour in all staff. Our governance framework includes appropriate committees and oversight structures, risk management, fraud prevention and control, strategic and business planning, project management, business continuity, performance management, audit and evaluation, and financial management elements. It allows for clear direction and oversight from senior leadership.

Figure 3: Our governance structure

Figure 3: Our governance structure 

Senior leadership as at 30 June 2014


  • Roger Wilkins AO

Deputy Secretaries

  • David Fredericks, Civil Justice and Legal Services Group
  • Tony Sheehan, Strategic Policy and Coordination Group
  • Katherine Jones, National Security and Criminal Justice Group

More information on these groups and our organisational chart are included in Part 1 of this report.

Senior management committees

The department has a number of core governance forums set up to support the Secretary and ensure effective governance throughout the department.

Executive Board

The Executive Board comprises the Secretary and Deputy Secretaries. The Chief Finance Officer, First Assistant Secretary—Strategy and Delivery Division and Head of People Strategy Branch also attend board meetings. The board advises the Secretary on the administration and strategic direction of the department, and considers matters referred for decision by the Senior Management Committee.

Senior Management Committee

The Senior Management Committee comprises the three Deputy Secretaries and each First Assistant Secretary. It is a forum for discussion on major corporate and strategic issues. The committee assists the department in achieving strategic and operational aims, and monitoring departmental performance against a range of business strategies.

The committee acts as the Investment Review Board, monitoring capital expenditure and recommending investment proposals for approval to the Executive Board. The committee ensures capital investments and projects are aligned with the department's strategic priorities and are financially sound.

Executive reviews

Executive reviews provide an opportunity for Executive Board members to meet with senior management and relevant employees from each division throughout the year. The meetings focus on strategic priorities, emerging challenges and opportunities for the department, resource allocation and progress of key initiatives.

Audit and Risk Management Committee

The Audit and Risk Management Committee comprises two external and three internal members. The Secretary, Chief Finance Officer, the department's Governance Office and the Australian National Audit Office are represented at the meetings. The committee provides independent assurance about the adequacy of the department's internal controls, risk management framework and fraud control arrangements, financial reporting, and assesses compliance with relevant laws, rules, regulations and directions.

Planning and review

The department's planning and performance framework is designed to ensure that activities and outcomes are aligned with priorities set by the Australian Government and that review mechanisms are in place.

Figure 4: Our planning and performance framework

Figure 4: Our planning and performance framework 

Risk management

The department is committed to a culture where consideration of risk is integrated into everyday management and operations. The department's risk management framework is based on the
AS/NZS ISO 31000: 2009, Risk Management Principles and Guidelines, and informed by the Comcover Better Practice Guide: Risk Management. The framework focuses on risk identification, integrating risk management into business planning and continually improving departmental outcomes and performance.

Fraud prevention and control

The department is committed to promoting transparency and accountability, and ensuring that the integrity of programmes delivered by the department is not compromised. The department's fraud control plan provides a framework for the prevention, detection and deterrence of fraud, and includes mechanisms to ensure fraud risks are identified and addressed. The department's fraud control plan was developed in accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2011 and has been incorporated into staff induction packs and training.

Internal audit

The department utilises an internal audit programme to improve operations and highlight opportunities for change. The programme is closely aligned with the department's risk profile and audit topics are chosen to address risks which could threaten our ability to deliver on strategic priorities. The programme is approved by the Executive Board and reviewed by the Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Ethical standards

The department's Enterprise Agreement 2011 contains a commitment by the parties to delivering high-quality professional public service in accordance with the APS Values. As part of the department's induction programme, new team members attend a session on the Values and Code of Conduct. In addition, the department offers online training to all staff on the Values and Code of Conduct which staff are encouraged to complete. All new employees are provided with a copy of the APS Values and Code of Conduct, as well as relevant excerpts from the Crimes Act 1914, and must sign a statement asserting that they have read and understood these provisions.

Information sessions are provided to individual work areas to cover specific ethical and conduct issues as particular needs are identified. The department participates in the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) Ethics Contact Officer Network and information is available to employees regarding how to contact the Ethics Advisory Service directly to discuss any ethical concerns that they may have.

Guidelines for Managing Conflicts of Interest in the Attorney-General's Department is a reference document collating various policies for the information of staff. This document has been incorporated into staff induction packs and training. The APS Values, Code of Conduct, Chief Executive Instructions and other material relevant to ethical conduct are incorporated, as appropriate, into relevant departmental policies, guidelines and instructions, and are available to all staff in the department.

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