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Chapter 13 - Financial management

 

Financial management

Analysis of financial performance

The departmental operating result for 2011-12 was a deficit of $78.181 million compared to a deficit of $17.772 million for 2010-11.

The deficit is primarily due to the expenditure in 2011-12 of appropriation received in prior financial years for certain expense measures, the impact of personnel reductions to align staff numbers to future appropriation, and other non-cash expenses including the transfer of assets, unfunded depreciation expense, and accounting for employee provisions. Details of these transactions appear at Note 33 of these financial statements.

Administered expenses for 2011-12 totalled $510.241 million compared to $1.495 billion in 2010-11. The 2010-11 expenses included $978.815 million in personal benefits payments to individuals following the floods and severe weather events that occurred early in 2011.

Figure 13.1: Departmental revenues and expenses, 2010-11 and 2011-12

Figure 13.2: Administered expenses, 2010-11 and 2011-12

 

Figure 13.2: Administered expenses, 2010-11 and 2011-12

Contracts and Australian National Audit Office access clauses

 

Contracts and Australian National Audit Office access clauses

During 2011-12, the department had no contracts to report over the value of $100,000 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor's premises.

Exempt contracts

During 2011-12 the department had no contracts to report over the value of $10,000 exempted from being published in AusTender by the Secretary of the department on the basis that to do so would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Consultancy services

The department engages consultants where it lacks specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem, carry out defined reviews or evaluations, or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the department's decision making.

Prior to engaging consultants, the department takes into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally, and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the FMA Act and related regulations including the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (CPGs) and relevant internal policies.

During 2011-12 the department entered into forty-six new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $3.306 million. In addition, three ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the year involving total actual expenditure of $0.553 million.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website www.tenders.gov.au

Advertising and market research

During 2011-12 the department conducted two advertising campaigns - the National Security Campaign and the Personal Property Securities Campaign. Further information is available at www.ag.gov.au and in the reports on Australian Government advertising that are prepared by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Those reports are available at www.finance.gov.au/advertising/index.html

The department is required to disclose expenditure made to specific types of organisations under section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. These categories of organisations are advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations.

Details of payments are provided at Appendix 4.

Legal services expenditure

Paragraph 11.1(a) of the Legal Services Directions 2005, issued by the Attorney-General under the Judiciary Act 1903, requires Chief Executives of departments and agencies to ensure that legal services expenditure is appropriately recorded and monitored. Chief Executives must also ensure that their agencies make publicly available records of their legal services expenditure for the previous financial year by 30 October in the following financial year. External legal services expenditure for 2011-12 was $10.397 million.

A more detailed breakdown of both internal and external legal expenditure is at Appendix 5.

Grants

The department manages its grants programs in accordance with the Government's legislative framework, the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines and the department's grants management guidelines.

In 2011-12, the department published information for twenty-one grants programs:

  • Closing the Gap - Northern Territory Law and Order
  • Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Australia
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Education Program
  • Countering Violent Extremism to Prevent Terrorism Program
  • Community Legal Services Program
  • Critical Infrastructure Resilience - Water Services Sector Group
  • Disaster Resilience Australia Package
  • Family Relationships Services Program
  • Financial Assistance Towards Legal Costs and Related Expenses
  • Grants to Australian Organisations
  • Idaho National Laboratories Advanced Cyber Security Training Program
  • Indigenous Justice Program
  • Indigenous Legal Aid and Policy Reform Program
  • National Counter-Terrorism Committee Program
  • National Pro Bono Resource Centre Grant
  • Native Title Anthropologist Grants Program
  • Payments for Provision of Legal Aid - Legal Aid Commissions
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - Section 298 Payment
  • Provision of Family Violence Prevention Legal Services for Indigenous Australians
  • Safer Suburbs Program
  • Secure Schools Program.

Information on grants awarded by the Attorney-General's Department since 1 July 2010 is available at www.ag.gov.au.

Purchasing

The department procures property and services consistent with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. The guidelines are applied to procurement activities through the Chief Executive Instructions and the department's Financial Guidance and Procedure Manual.

A financial management learning and development program includes modules on procurement and contract management as well as on the Chief Executive Instructions, authorisations and delegations.

A central procurement advisory unit within the department provides advice to staff involved in procurement activities. In addition, the unit undertakes quality assurance testing of procurement activities undertaken across the department.

The procurement advice unit periodically reviews all procurement-related documentation and training material to ensure consistency with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and other policies that interact with procurement. The department is currently implementing a procurement module within the department's financial management information system to enhance administrative workflow and compliance. The introduction of this module will require a complete review of internal procurement rules, guidance, forms and templates.

Asset management

The department's fixed asset base is composed of a wide range of asset types, including office fit-outs, purchased and internally-developed software, computer equipment, infrastructure and centrally-held library materials.

The department undertakes an annual stocktake of assets to maintain the accuracy of asset records.

The department also has asset management guidance and procedures as part of the Financial Guidance and Procedure Manual, which has been disseminated to divisions and is available on the department's intranet.


 

Our people

Graduate recruitment campaign case study

positioning the department as an employer of choice

While there is intense competition between students for the roughly thirty graduate places on offer with the department each year, the department also faces the challenge of recruiting the best candidates, who may have a number of opportunities available to them.

With a focus on delivering a quality outcome with a reduced budget, Clara Yoo of the People and Corporate Support Branch worked closely with Whilemina Prendergast of the Strategic Communication Branch to develop a new approach to encourage the best graduates to apply.

'There is a wide range of career pathways available to potential graduates in our department', said Clara. 'Our challenge was to attract applicants from a wide range of academic disciplines and to position the department as an employer of choice. We needed a targeted approach as we did not have a substantial budget for advertising.'

Informed by in-house research conducted by previous graduates and the graduate team, the Strategic Communication Branch developed a communication strategy that utilised online channels to spread the word and encourage graduates to apply.

'We developed a branded govspace site which showcased the diversity of work on offer in the department and included a YouTube video where previous graduates spoke about their experiences', said Whilemina.

'We then applied the same branding to a campaign Facebook site and began attracting "likes" from potential graduates by uploading content from an approved content plan. By actively marketing our Facebook page in forums used by university students, we drove audiences to the website where they could find information about how to apply for the program.'

The online strategy was backed up with appearances at graduate career fairs where branded promotional materials were distributed, the YouTube video was on display and Attorney-General's Department employees were available to talk about the exciting careers on offer.

The campaign was extremely successful with the department receiving almost 1,400 applications - the highest number of applications in the history of the program. The successful applicants will join the department in 2013.