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Governance framework

The department’s governance framework supports the achievement of its purpose. Our framework is an effective system for managing risk and fraud as well as human and financial resources through planning and assurance processes.

Senior leadership

Our senior leadership team as at 30 June 2018 comprised:


  • Chris Moraitis PSM

Deputy Secretaries

  • Iain Anderson, Civil Justice and Corporate Group
  • Michael Kingston, Australian Government Solicitor
  • Sarah Chidgey, Criminal Justice and National Security Group (Acting)

More information about the department and the organisation chart is included in Part 1 of this report.

Senior management committees

A number of governance fora support the Secretary and ensure effective governance within the department.

Executive Board

The Executive Board is the primary decision-making body. The board sets the vision and strategy for the department, oversees risk and ensures organisational performance. It is responsible for driving organisational capability, culture and strategic stakeholder engagement. It comprises the Secretary and Deputy Secretaries, the Australian Government Solicitor, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Information Officer, First Assistant Secretary Strategy and Delivery Division and Head of Human Resources. A representative from each of the SES Band 2 and Band 1 cohorts rotate as members every six months.

Senior Management Committee

The Senior Management Committee is a forum for sharing information about significant corporate and strategic whole-of-department issues. It also serves as the Investment Review Board, ensuring capital investments and projects are aligned with the department’s strategic priorities and are financially stable.

Executive reviews

Executive reviews enable Executive Board members to meet with senior management from each business unit throughout the year. The meetings focus on strategic priorities, risk management, emerging challenges and opportunities, workforce planning, resource allocation and progress of key initiatives.

Audit and Risk Management Committee

The Audit and Risk Management Committee comprises three external and two internal members. The Chief Operating Officer, Chief Finance Officer, the department’s Governance Office and the ANAO are represented at the meetings. The committee provides independent assurance to the Secretary about the adequacy of the department’s financial reporting, performance reporting, risk management framework, systems of internal control and internal audit function.

Corporate planning

A corporate plan is developed each year in accordance with section 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). The plan details the priorities for the year ahead, how they will be achieved and how they will be measured as well as the factors that may affect us undertaking our activities. The plan is published on the department’s website in August. It is the important link in the department’s performance framework between the portfolio budget statements and the annual report.

Figure 2: Our planning and performance framework

Diagram of the three key performance framework publications. The left image is the cover of the 2017 18 Portfolio Budget Statements. Underneath the image is text that reads Portfolio Budget Statements detail the resources allocated to deliver our priorities and achieve our purpose. The image includes an arrow that points to the right to the cover of the Attorney-General’s Department’s 2017 18 Corporate Plan (the centre image). Underneath this image is text that reads the four year corporate plan outlines our purpose and strategic priorities and activities, what we will implement to achieve our purpose and how we measure our success. This image includes an arrow that points to the right to the Attorney-General’s Department’s 2017 18 Annual Report (right image). Underneath this image is text that reads the annual report and performance statement is a record of our program achievements and an assessment of our performance that was established in the corporate plan.

Risk management

The department’s risk management framework is based on the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and meets the requirements of section 16 of the PGPA Act.

We integrate risk management into everyday operations to foster a culture that promotes an open and proactive approach to managing risk. Risk assessment, informed risk taking and the anticipation and treatment of risk in meeting our objectives is encouraged and managed. Our risk oversight includes regular monitoring and reporting.

We share risk with our stakeholders, being other Australian Government entities, other jurisdictions (state, territory and international), ministers, suppliers and vendors, grant recipients, industry and communities. We undertake consultation and cooperation to effectively identify, understand and manage risks.

Security and Risk Management Committee

The Security and Risk Management Committee is responsible for ensuring a cohesive and coordinated departmental approach to risk, fraud, business continuity and information, physical and personnel security.

Fraud prevention and control

Fraud and corruption have the potential to damage our performance and business outcomes. The department minimises fraud risks by preventing, detecting, investigating, recording and reporting instances of fraud and corruption through the implementation of policies, procedures and practices that align with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework.

Internal audit

Internal audit is a central component of our governance framework. Audit strengthens accountability and promotes good governance and transparency through independent and objective assurance.
We have an internal audit program that specifically considers our strategic priorities and risks. Our audit regime reinforces the appropriate use of resources, cost-effectiveness, self-assessment and continuous improvement.

Ethical standards

During 2017-18, the department maintained the high ethical standards and behaviours of its employees. A review of the Program for Performance Improvement and Managing Underperformance policies undertaken by human resources confirmed our culture of commitment to the APS Values. The expectation of high performance and commitment to the APS Values, Code of Conduct and the APS Employment Principles were communicated to employees through consultation and education sessions.

Our induction program provides clear guidance for new employees in relation to the APS Values, Code of Conduct and Employment Principles. All new employees are provided with a copy of these documents. All employees sign a statement acknowledging they have read and understood the requirements in these documents for being an APS employee.

Managing Performance Concerns and Appropriate Behaviour workshops were developed in response to a 2016-17 APS Census that indicated employees were concerned about these matters. The workshops were well attended and reinforced the workplace behaviours expected of employees under the Code of Conduct.

The department participates in the Australian Public Service Commission Ethics Contact Officer Network. Information is available to employees regarding how to contact the Ethics Advisory Service to discuss any concerns they may have in this regard.

All alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct are treated seriously and managed in accordance with best practice.

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