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Chapter 11 - Corporate governance

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Corporate governance

The Attorney-General’s Department’s governance framework includes appropriate committee and oversight structures, risk management, fraud control, strategic and business planning, project management, business continuity, performance management, audit and evaluation, and financial management elements.

Senior leadership

Secretary

Roger Wilkins AO

Deputy Secretaries

Renée Leon, Strategic Policy and Coordination Group

Elizabeth Kelly, Civil Justice and Legal Services Group

Tony Sheehan, National Security and Criminal Justice Group—since 17 February 2011

Miles Jordana, National Security and Criminal Justice Group—until 11 October 2010

First Assistant Secretaries

Iain Anderson, Criminal Justice Division

Bill Campbell PSM QC, General Counsel (International Law)

Campbell Darby DSC AM, Emergency Management Australia Division

Kym Duggan PSM, National Security Capability Development Division

David Fredericks, Priorities and Coordination Division

Louise Glanville, Access to Justice Division

Maggie Jackson, International Crime Cooperation Division

Katherine Jones, Social Inclusion Division

John Leahy SC PSM, Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing

Stephen Lutze, Finance and Property Division

Greg Manning, International Law and Human Rights Division

Geoff McDonald PSM, National Security Law and Policy Division

Matt Minogue, Civil Law Division

Mike Rothery, National Security Resilience Policy Division

Hilary Russell, People, Information and Technology Division

The governance framework

The core elements of the Department’s governance framework are the:

  • Secretary’s Leadership Group
  • Departmental Operations Executive Committee
  • Audit and Risk Management Committee
  • Information Technology Strategy Committee, and
  • Information and Communication Technology Improvement Committee.

Other important elements include the Chief Executive Instructions, business resilience framework (business continuity, risk management and fraud control), performance reporting (financial and non-financial) and business planning processes, including the Strategic Plan 2010–2012.

Senior management committees

The Secretary’s Leadership Group comprises the Secretary and the three Deputy Secretaries. It provides advice to the Secretary on key strategic matters of corporate importance and sets the Department’s strategic direction. The Group has a leadership role in managing Departmental achievements against Portfolio Budget Statements and the Strategic Plan 2010–2012. The Group meets weekly.

The Departmental Operations Executive Committee fosters strategic debate on a range of issues of corporate importance, provides guidance on risk and performance, and advises on major corporate issues to be considered by the Secretary’s Leadership Group. The Deputy Secretary, Strategic Policy and Coordination Group, chairs the Committee. Membership includes the other two Deputy Secretaries and each First Assistant Secretary. The Committee meets fortnightly.

The Audit and Risk Management Committee advises the Secretary on the Department’s systems of internal controls, risk management (including fraud risk), financial reporting, compliance with laws, and internal and external audit matters. The Committee comprises a chair, who is external to the Department, and four members, one of who is also external to the Department. The Committee met six times during 2010–11 (Table 17). The Secretary, the Chief Financial Officer, General Manager, People, Information and Technology Division, Chief Audit Executive and the Australian National Audit Office were represented at all meetings.

Table 17: Audit Committee membership and meeting attendance 2010–11

Member Role Meetings eligible to
attend
Meetings
attended
Will Laurie Independent Chair 6 6
Jennifer Clark External member 6 6
Andrew Walter (until March 2011) Internal member 5 4
Iain Anderson Internal member 5 4
Campbell Darby (November 2011—March 2011 ) Internal member 2 1
Sarah McCosker (from June 2011)  Internal member 1 1
Kym Duggan (from June 2011) Internal member 1 1

The Information Technology Strategy Committee is the Department’s peak information and communication technology governance body, established by the Secretary to deliver a clear strategic approach to the Department’s overall information and communication technology infrastructure in terms of investment and governance. The Committee monitors information technology activities from a business perspective. The General Manager of the People, Information and Technology Division chairs the Committee, and membership includes each First Assistant Secretary and senior representatives from the information technology branches. The Committee meets quarterly.

The Information and Communication Technology Improvement Committee is a subcommittee of the Information Technology Strategy Committee, providing advice on the alignment of information and communication technology projects and initiatives with business drivers and directions. The Committee evaluates business proposals received from the divisions and branches before these are considered by the Information Technology Strategy Committee. It is a forum for communication between the information technology and business areas of the Department. The Committee meets monthly.

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 mechanisms are in place to review these. Figure 6 provides an overview of the Department’s planning and performance framework.

Strategic and business planning

The Department identifies priorities and objectives for the year ahead in accordance with direction from the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice.

The Department’s planning process incorporates:

  • a resource allocation and prioritisation process involving all members of the senior leadership group
  • annual branch and division business plans and budgeting processes
  • project plans for specific activities to achieve results against the Strategic Plan 2010–2012
  • individual work plans to ensure staff understand how their achievements contribute to those of their branch, division and the Department, and
  • a continuous review model to ensure such plans address changes to departmental priorities.

This business planning process integrates all levels of planning in the Department. Links between the Strategic Plan 2010–2012 and the division business plans, branch plans and individual work plans can be clearly demonstrated.

Business continuity management

The Department’s business continuity arrangements include a business impact analysis process, which was introduced in 2010, that considers the criticality of business functions, resource dependencies and contingency requirements. A new divisional business continuity plan template has been developed and rolled out to divisions incorporating the outcomes of the business impact analysis process.

Ongoing crisis exercises ensure the Department can effectively manage business disruption events. The Department regularly provides business continuity advice and support to portfolio agencies through the quarterly ‘risk across agencies’ forum and through consultations. In early 2011 the Department’s business continuity advisor led the development of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity business continuity arrangements.

Project Management Office

The Project Management Office aims to increase the level of project management discipline within the Department’s corporate areas and more generally across the organisation.

The Project Management Framework has been developed based on PRINCE2 project management methodologies and suits most projects carried out within the Department. A range of templates, adapted from the standard PRINCE2 templates, support the central project management process and help the Department organise, plan and control projects.

In November 2010, the Department conducted an assessment of its organisational capability in information technology-enabled investment using the Portfolio, Program and Project Management Maturity Model. The assessment identified strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improving capability that have a direct impact on the Department’s capacity to commission, manage and realise benefits from its information technology-enabled projects.

Figure 6: Planning and performance framework, 2010–11

Figure 6: Planning and performance framework, 2010–11
 

Risk management

The Department redeveloped its Risk Management Framework based on the Comcover, Better Practice Guide: Risk Management and AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009, Risk Management Principles and Guidelines. The Framework addresses communicating policy and accountability, integrating risk management into business planning, review and monitoring processes, and developing a positive risk culture.

The Department holds regular discussions on risk management as a standing item at the Secretary’s Leadership Group and at the Audit and Risk Management Committee. These discussions cover emerging risks, strategic risks, and program/project specific risk assessments. The management of risk is also integrated into Departmental business planning processes.

The Department hosted three portfolio risk forums during the year, which were attended by representatives from across the Attorney-General’s portfolio. These forums provide opportunities for senior officials to learn from experts and share experiences with their peers on risk management, business continuity, fraud control and other governance issues.

Fraud control

The Department has a comprehensive fraud control management model which includes a Fraud Control Plan, regular reporting to the Audit and Risk Management Committee, separate functional areas for fraud control policy and fraud investigation, fraud awareness training, and inclusion of fraud risks within overall business risk assessment processes.

The Department actioned 30 of 35 fraud control strategies identified in its Fraud Control Plan in 2010–11. Customised fraud and ethics awareness training was also delivered on information and communications technology asset management, grants management, policy development and the 2011 Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting.

In late 2010, officers of the Australian National Audit Office addressed departmental senior executives regarding lessons learnt from fraud within the Home Insulation Program and the Green Loans Program. The Department has since reviewed fraud risks within a number of external funding arrangement models.

In 2010–11, three allegations of fraud were identified, reported and investigated. In two of these instances appropriate sanctions were applied. In the third instance, following investigation, the allegation was dismissed as unsubstantiated.

CERTIFICATION OF DEPARTMENTAL FRAUD CONTROL ARRANGEMENTS

I, Roger Wilkins, certify that I am satisfied that for 2010–11, the Attorney-General’s Department has:

 
  • prepared fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans
  • in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes that meet the specific needs of the Department, and
  • taken all reasonable measures to minimise the incidence of fraud in the Department and to investigate and recover the proceeds of fraud against the Department.

 

Roger Wilkins AO
Secretary
16 September 2011

Internal audit arrangements

The Department’s Audit and Risk Management Committee is appointed by, and is responsible to, the Secretary. It advises the Secretary on the Department’s:

  • systems of internal control
  • risk management, including fraud risk
  • financial reporting and control of public money and assets
  • compliance with relevant laws, rules, regulations and directions, and
  • internal and external audit matters.

In 2010–11, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu performed the internal audit and evaluation function under an outsourced arrangement that was overseen by the Audit and Risk Management Committee and the Chief Audit Executive. The Department tendered for the future provision of audit services in May 2011.

Audits considered by the Audit and Risk Management Committee

In 2010–11 the Audit and Risk Management Committee considered a range of internal audit reports including:

  • implementation of selected information technology systems and projects
  • administration of grants management
  • implementation of new policy proposals
  • disaster and emergency management
  • financial systems reporting and controls
  • strategic and business planning processes, including resource allocation
  • human resource management systems and controls, and
  • fraud controls and spot checks.

Conduct and ethics

The Attorney-General’s Department Enterprise Agreement 2010 contains a commitment by the parties to delivering high quality professional public service in accordance with the APS Values. The Department offers online training to all staff on the Values and Code of Conduct. All new staff are encouraged to complete the online training module and to access the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) induction module Your Guide to Working in the Australian Public Service. 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 also provided to individual work areas to cover specific ethics and conduct issues as particular needs are identified. The Department participates in the APSC’s Ethics Contact Officer network and has ensured that employees are aware that they can contact the Ethics Advisory Service direct to discuss any ethical concerns that they may have.

In addition, Senior Executive Service employees are provided with a copy of the publication APS Values and Code of Conduct in practice: A Guide to Official Conduct for APS Employees and Agency Heads.

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 on the Department’s intranet.

Service charters

The Department’s client service charter outlines how the Department interacts with the public and the level of service required. The charter was updated this year to include service standards related to the APS Values and Code of Conduct, correspondence, availability of documents and information and the investigation of complaints.

Comments and complaints regarding service levels are encouraged. The charter is available at <http://www.ag.gov.au/>.

In addition, the AusCheck service charter was released on 20 August 2009. It describes to the public and the aviation and maritime communities the service experience they expect from AusCheck. The charter is available from the national security and counter-terrorism section at <http://www.ag.gov.au/>.

A report of the service charter operations is at Appendix 4.

Senior Executive Service remuneration

For this financial year, all previous instruments providing for terms and conditions for Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, predominantly common law contracts, were replaced with individual determinations made under Section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Remuneration for an SES employee, as set out in the section 24(1) Determinations, includes: base salary, an Executive Vehicle Scheme vehicle or cash-in-lieu, car park and superannuation.

The Department also varied its SES remuneration policy to remove a former entitlement to possible performance pay. This required an adjustment to be made to base salary levels.

Further information about SES remuneration appears on page 173.

Media and communications

The Public Affairs Branch is responsible for providing strategic communication advice and services to the Department, including media and crisis management, corporate communications, and the delivery of communication strategies and campaigns. During the year the Branch started developing a Strategic Communication Framework to build a stronger communication philosophy throughout the Department’s work. As part of the Framework’s development the Branch has been addressing the important issue of how the Department can best make use of the social media environment for internal and external communication.

Media and crisis communication

In its crisis communication role, the Branch coordinated the Australian Government’s public communication functions during Tropical Cyclone Yasi and the floods that impacted large parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

The Branch’s role in supporting whole-of-government public communication during a disaster also involved participation in Mercury 10—a major multi-jurisdictional counter-terrorism exercise—and Cyberstorm III—an international cyber-security exercise—both of which tested public communication, messaging and media response arrangements. Extensive planning has also been undertaken to support the Australian Government’s security media responsibilities for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in October 2011.

The Branch handled 347 media releases and 574 media enquiries during the year across a wide range of issues. It also supported key communication initiatives within the Department, including criminal, civil justice and national security reforms, launching products under the Australian Government’s Organised Crime Framework, supporting a range of ministerial council meetings, and events to acknowledge the work of emergency service personnel during the Queensland floods and Christchurch earthquake.

Strategy and campaigns

The Branch continued to progress work on a number of discrete campaigns.

The implementation of phase one of the chemicals of security concern campaign continued to focus on building awareness through the distribution of tailored brochures and posters to industry and consumers, and the placement of editorial in key industry publications. The campaign is a component of the Council of Australian Governments’ Chemical Security Management Framework and aims to inform and build public and industry vigilance to help jurisdictional police and security agencies deter and detect the use of chemicals for terrorist purposes.

The national security public information campaign is now in its ninth year. In 2010–11, the campaign advertising used existing Every detail helps phase three advertisements. The advertising comprised radio (metropolitan, regional, culturally and linguistically diverse and visually impaired), press (trade and industry magazines) and a digital mobile search component. The radio advertisement has been translated into 30 languages.

The Branch was also responsible for developing the communication campaign to support the establishment of the Personal Property Securities (PPS) Register in late 2011. This included managing development of creative material and market research. The campaign, primarily aimed at small business owners and their advisors and consumers, includes radio, online and print advertising to support the commencement of PPS reform.

Corporate communications

The Branch was responsible for designing, typesetting and coordinating printing of more than 100 publications including the Reconciliation Action Plan and the Strategic Plan 2010–2012. The Branch also coordinated development of the 2009–10 Annual Report and was involved in a range of internal communication activities, including promoting staff engagement with the Strategic Plan 2010–2012, promoting human resource assistance services, promoting the staff survey, promoting the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, and redesigning and launching the Department’s intranet.

Reconciliation Action Plan and reconciliation committee

The Department is committed to reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people for the benefit of all Australians. In March 2011, the Department renewed this commitment with the launch of the Reconciliation Action Plan 2010–2012 which focuses on the three principles of relationships, respect and opportunities.

Reconciliation Australia, the peak national organisation building and promoting reconciliation, featured the launch of the plan on its website where it was named ‘Plan of the Month’. The plan can be viewed online in the publications section of <http://www.ag.gov.au>.

The plan is implemented and maintained by the Department’s Reconciliation Committee. The Committee includes representatives from the senior management team, Indigenous Network, business areas, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff. The Committee focuses on engaging with staff to develop and promote cultural awareness and participates in the Cross Portfolio Reconciliation Network.

The Department actively participates in celebrating events of significance to Indigenous people including Sorry Day, Mabo Day, National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week.

Information technology and management

The Department manages information technology using a formal governance framework consisting of the:

  • Departmental Operations Executive Committee and Secretary’s Leadership Group
  • Information Technology Strategy Committee, and
  • Information and Communications Technology Improvement Committee.

The Department is progressing a number of activities that will strengthen its ability to work collaboratively with internal and external users of its information technology systems.
These activities include:

  • transforming collaboration activities from manual to online web 2.0 processes across the Department, providing efficiency gains through immediate sharing of information and knowledge
  • instituting an internal collaboration platform to showcase web 2.0 tools within the Department such as enterprise blogs and wikis, and
  • building an external collaboration platform that will help the Department implement the Government’s Gov 2.0 agenda.

During 2010–11, information technology services and infrastructure contributed directly to managing emergency crisis responses, access to justice, the Personal Property Securities Register, the National Security Hotline, AusCheck, film and literature classification, ComLaw, Disaster Assist and a range of collaborative interagency exercises, including the whole-of-portfolio Chief Information Officers Committee to further collaboration and cooperation across the Attorney-General’s portfolio.

Information technology infrastructure

The Department operates in a complex and diverse business environment which brings a range of challenges for delivering information technology services. The nature of this environment also means that the Department needs to be more ‘connected’ with other Commonwealth and State agencies and the public. The Department’s role in coordinating national security and emergency management also means that secure information and communications technology services need to be provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and from interstate and international locations.

The Department improved delivery of services to internal and external clients by creating a more sustainable information and communications technology environment, improving its green technology profile, and reducing expenditure on infrastructure replacement while maintaining and improving capability. Additional information technology services include AusCheck, the Personal Properties Securities Register, a range of secure systems, National Crisis Coordination Centre and the Classification Operations Board.

Pacific ‘twinning’

The Department, through the AusAID Pacific Public Sector Linkages Program, provides assistance to Pacific law libraries throughout the Pacific region through the Pacific Law Library Twinning Program. The program builds and supports closer cooperation with law and justice sector agencies across the Pacific region. Sixteen Pacific regional law agency libraries are twinned with law libraries in Australia.

Following the inaugural regional workshop for Pacific law librarians in Vanuatu in May 2009, a second workshop for the Pacific Islands Law Library Community was held in Samoa in June 2011. Staff from the Department worked with the Samoan Supreme Court and the Tongan Crown Law Office to provide assistance and advice following the relocation of their libraries.

The in-country assistance aims to increase the effectiveness of legal information management and research in twinned agencies. The Department’s Lionel Murphy Library has been twinned with law office libraries in Samoa, Tonga and Nauru since 1992.

Corrections to errors

The following statements in the Attorney-General’s Department 2009–10 Annual Report were incorrect:

  • on page 177, the inquiry into older people and the law was listed as being undertaken by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. It was undertaken by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
  • on page 178, the inquiry into the Draft Disability (Access to Premises-Buildings) Standards was listed as being undertaken by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. It was undertaken by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
  • on page 325, in Table 29, the figure reported against Quantum Market Research is incorrectly reported as $166,947. The correct figure is $135,245
  • on page 132, in Table 16, the figures reported for the international transfer of prisoners were incorrect. The following table provides the correct figures:
  Made by Australia Made to Australia
  As reported Correct information As reported Correct information
International transfer of prisoners 2008–09 28 27
International transfer of prisoners 2009–10 27 30 21 22

 

Our people

Innovating online

New possibilities for engagement

The Australian Government’s response to the Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0 report called on all agencies to foster online engagement. The Department identified web-based tools for managing content and sharing information as a perfect chance to put this into action.

‘By using online tools, the Department can create a culture of collaboration to innovate its policy and program delivery,’ says Sandra Kentish, who manages the program to implement these web-based tools.

‘We’ve introduced blogs and discussion boards that open up new conversations across organisational hierarchies, as well as web-based workflows to automate many previously labour-intensive manual processes.’

OneTrack, an activity reporting tool that was custom-designed to fit the Department’s online environment, is a prime example of how this project is fostering innovative ideas. OneTrack was initially conceived as a tool to help senior managers keep track of key activities across the Department. The collaboration between the IT staff and the Strategy and Policy Advice Unit has built a flexible tool that works at the local, Branch, Divisional and Departmental levels. Staff can use it to track their activities’ progress. The same data can then be used to keep Ministers, senior managers and other key stakeholders informed of progress.

As our online collaboration moves out of the test environment, the range of its applications across the Department is set to expand. Additional internal collaboration functions will be deployed across the Department in early 2011–12. External collaboration functions will follow, beginning with portfolio agencies.

Sandra sees enormous potential for online collaboration. ‘It creates new possibilities for engagement and sharing knowledge and ideas.’

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