Corporate governance

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The department’s corporate functions and staff provide critical support that enables us to deliver our programs and services. Our corporate areas are focused on providing quality, timely services and being responsive to the changing policy and operational needs of the department.

This section discusses our support services and governance structures, which provide a framework to ensure accountability and the overall effectiveness of the department.

Our key corporate services

Working collaboratively with all business groups, our corporate functions provide specialist advice, services and expertise across the department in:

  • business continuity and disaster recovery
  • communication and media
  • coordination, reporting and parliamentary support
  • corporate planning and governance
  • financial management
  • fraud prevention and  control
  • human resources and workforce planning
  • information  and  communications technology
  • information management and research
  • legal services
  • risk management, audit and compliance
  • security, workplace safety and accommodation  support.

Our governance arrangements

Finance’s governance structure supports the Secretary to discharge her duties under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Public Service Act 1999. The governance structure for the reporting period is shown in Figure 3 and discussed in more detail below.

Figure 3: Finance’s governance structure in 2015–16

Finance’s governance structure in 2015–16. Text description below
Text description of Figure 3: Finance’s governance structure in 2015–16

Executive Board

The Executive Board advises the Secretary on the priorities, directions and strategic leadership of the department, monitors performance and maintains accountability. The board discusses and makes decisions on strategic and operational matters and considers new policies and projects.

The Secretary is the chair and Deputy Secretaries are standing members. The First Assistant Secretary of the Corporate Services Division, the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Financial Officer hold ex officio membership.

 Executive Board sub-committees

The Executive Board has established the following sub-committees, comprising senior management, to assist it in discharging its duties and to allow detailed consideration of complex activities and issues:

  • Business Investment Sub-Committee—provides assurance and advice to the Executive Board on investments in projects to build the department’s business capabilities, to ensure appropriate alignment with, and enablement of, business priorities.
  • People and Culture Sub-Committee—oversees the development of strategic people initiatives and policies.
  • Policy Advisory Sub-Committee—fosters a coherent policy framework across Finance, and advises the Executive Board on the development and implementation of strategic policy priorities for the department.
  • Recruitment and Remuneration Sub-Committee—considers recruitment submissions and other matters relating to recruitment and remuneration.
  • Risk Sub-Committee—provides advice and recommendations to the Executive Board on the department’s risk management capability and framework to ensure that they meet the department’s needs and represent best practice.
  • Work Health and Safety Committee—brings together staff and management to develop and review health and safety policies and procedures to ensure a healthy and safe work environment.

 In 2015–16, a Finance Transformation Steering Committee was established specifically to oversee Finance’s significant transformation program.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the Secretary on the appropriateness of the department’s accountability and control framework, particularly those aspects concerning the system of risk oversight and management, the system of internal controls, performance reporting and financial reporting.

In 2015–16, the committee comprised four external members, including the chair, and two departmental members. The committee meets at least five times a year and is attended by representatives from the Australian National Audit Office, the chair of the Risk Sub-Committee, the Head of Internal Audit, the Chief Financial Officer and the department’s internal audit service providers as observers.

The Audit Committee has established two sub-committees to support it in performing its functions:

  • Financial Statements Audit Sub-Committee—maintains an ongoing review of the process for preparing the department’s annual financial statements.
  • Performance Framework Sub-Committee—assists with reviewing the department’s systems and procedures for managing its performance, focusing on key concepts of relevance, reliability, comparability, usefulness, structure and proportionality and compliance with the performance reporting requirements of the PGPA Act.

Review of governance arrangements

In 2015–16, Finance conducted an internal review of its governance arrangements to ensure that they are contemporary, are fit for purpose and align with better practice. The review was completed in April 2016 and found that, in general, the department’s governance arrangements align with better practice, meet legislative requirements, and are similar to arrangements in relevant private and public sector organisations.

The review recommended changes to support the department’s new operating model and adjustments to the roles of some of the Executive Board sub-committees to better facilitate staff mobility and recruitment. These recommendations will be implemented in early 2016–17.

Our planning and reporting framework

Our approach to planning and reporting is illustrated in Figure 4. The overall aim is to provide high-quality information to parliament and the public through an integrated planning and reporting cycle that has a clear line of sight from the corporate plan and the Portfolio Budget Statements through to the annual report for each financial year.

Figure 4: Finance’s approach to planning and reporting

Finance’s approach to planning and reporting. Text description below.
Text description of Figure 4: Finance’s approach to planning and reporting

How we manage risk

The department’s risk management framework is overseen by the Risk Sub-Committee and aligns with the principles of the PGPA Act, the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy and the Australian and New Zealand Risk Management Standard ISO31000:2009 Risk management—principles and guidelines.

The framework provides a sound foundation to ensure a consistent approach to the identification, treatment and monitoring of risks on an ongoing basis. The enterprise risk management plan is an important element introduced in 2015–16 to enhance visibility of key risks and assist with actively managing risks at all levels in the department. Also during 2015–16, the department worked to clearly define its risk appetite and tolerance levels for categories of risk in its operations. The risk appetite and tolerance levels will be embedded in the framework in 2016–17 to assist the department to make informed decisions about prioritising activities and allocating resources.

Business continuity management

Business continuity management is integral to the department’s risk management arrangements. It entails careful planning to enable the continuation or timely resumption of critical functions and eventual restoration to normal operations following a business interruption.

In the event of a business interruption, a central control team is convened by the Deputy Secretary of Business Enabling Services. The team serves as the central point of communications and coordination for the department’s response and recovery.

Internal audit arrangements

Primary responsibility for the department’s internal audit activities rests with the Head of Internal Audit. The Head of Internal Audit provides the Secretary, through the Audit Committee, with independent assurance that internal controls designed to manage organisational risks and achieve the department’s objectives are operating in an efficient, effective and ethical manner. The Head of Internal Audit also implements the annual internal audit plan and manages liaison with the Australian National Audit Office.

Internal audits are either commissioned by the Audit Committee under the annual internal audit plan or initiated by management. A management-initiated review may be conducted in response to a newly identified risk or other matter on which management requires additional assurance. The department currently contracts KPMG to provide its internal audit services. During 2015–16, the internal audit program was delivered in line with the annual internal audit plan endorsed by the Audit Committee and approved by the Executive Board.

How we prevent fraud

The department has a fraud control framework that aligns with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework. The framework establishes the systems and processes for the prevention, detection, monitoring, evaluation and reporting of, and response to, fraud within the department. The department regularly reviews its fraud prevention and control measures, including its fraud risk assessment and fraud control plan.

Ethical standards

Finance managers work with staff to help ensure that they fully understand their roles and responsibilities as public servants and continue to do their part in enabling the department to be an ethical, respectful and barrier-free employer.

Guidelines for ethical decision-making, targeted training, and an ethics hotline, available through the Australian Public Service Commission, help staff recognise and deal with ethical issues. Information sessions are provided to individual work areas to cover specific ethical and conduct matters.


Last updated: 06 February 2017