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Section 3 - Management and accountability
Management and accountability
The Department's three corporate areas—Corporate and Business, Legal Services and Finance—provide strategic and operational support to the Department.
This section of the report provides an overview of the Department's governance arrangements and corporate performance.
Corporate governance and performance
Our corporate governance framework strategically links our systems, structures and processes to ensure we can meet the challenges facing the Department. The framework's key components include effective business planning, risk management, financial and people management, audit, performance monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
Key corporate governance achievements during 2009–10 included:
- introducing an integrated budget and business planning framework including commitment to the development of a three-year Corporate Plan
- implementing a streamlined risk management and reporting framework throughout the organisation
- implementing a new fraud control policy, guidelines and plan 2009–11, launched in July 2009
- implementing a new Business Continuity Plan, launched in Business Continuity Awareness Week held from 22–26 March 2010.
Corporate and business planning
In early 2010, we committed to the development of a new Corporate Plan, which will outline the directions and challenges over the next three years. This plan will be reviewed annually and will inform the development of divisional and branch business planning, other key strategic plans and internal budgets.
In addition to the Corporate Plan, we are producing a new external document summarising our business ('who we are and what we do') for use in dealings with stakeholders and the public.
We have introduced a revised business planning framework to align business planning, budgeting and risk management more closely, as recommended by an internal audit into internal budgeting undertaken by KPMG.
This revised approach is based on best practice principles drawn from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and the Australian Public Service Commission as well as learning from other agencies in the APS.
Management committees are a key element of the governance framework, providing cross-divisional senior executive oversight of strategy development and key operations. The committees usually consist of the requisite senior executive staff and other senior staff.
Executive Management Group
The Executive Management Group is chaired by the Secretary and meets fortnightly. The Committee oversees the Department's strategic direction, corporate governance, accountability and operational effectiveness and focuses on the overall financial and corporate performance.
The Audit Committee provided independently-chaired assurance and assistance to the Secretary in relation to governance and assurance within the Department. The Committee's objectives included the enhancement of the control framework within the Department to ensure it is robust and reliable; and providing the Secretary with confidence that we are complying with legislative and reporting obligations, particularly those that relate to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997.
The Secretary revised the Committee's Charter in December 2009 to streamline the Department's audit processes and to better align the Committee's operation with the ANAO Better Practice Guide to Public Sector Audit Committees. The Committee met on five occasions during 2009–10.
Performance Reporting Committee
The Performance Reporting Committee met monthly and monitored the performance of the Department's administered expense items and major programs. Program Managers report through a monthly traffic light report, outlining key deliverables and milestones, performance targets, risks and financial profiles.
Human Resources Management Committee
The Human Resources Management Committee met quarterly and provided advice and recommendations to the Secretary and the Executive Management Group in relation to strategic people management for the Department.
Information Management Committee
The Information Management Committee met quarterly and had oversight of the Department's IT and information management strategies and closely monitored agreed information technology projects.
The Committee focused on improving governance of information technology projects in the Department, supported by the introduction of a new project management and reporting solution designed to deliver timely reports and monitor project efficiency.
Senior Executive Service meetings
The Department's Senior Executive Service (SES) staff met fortnightly to facilitate discussion and communication between senior staff across the Department. The Senior Departmental Liaison Officer from the Minister's Office attends, and other managerial level staff members are invited to attend, as appropriate.
We launched our revised Risk Management Plan 2009–11 on 1 July 2009. We also developed a Department-wide risk register (including key business and adjunct and divisional risks), extensively revised our internal risk management policies and procedures, and revised the Chief Executive's Instructions and Practical Guide relating to risks. The Audit Committee considered the revised risk register in August 2009 and again in March 2010.
In October 2009, a new international risk management standard (ISO 31000) was published. We are reviewing our policy and procedural guidance to ensure better-practice risk management.
The Department has a robust risk management framework in place to assist it to achieve its objectives and performance targets. The Risk Management Plan 2009–11 sets out the areas of key business risk to the Department. In addition, risk registers are maintained for key areas of corporate risk (for example IT, finance, HR, legislative, governance, client/stakeholder relationships) and for each of our program and policy areas. The management of risk is devolved to the program/policy area where the potential risk could occur, and there is regular reporting to both the Performance Reporting and Audit committees.
We participated in the Comcover Benchmarking Program in 2010. Comcover has assessed the Department's risk management capability and this has resulted in the Department being entitled to a saving of 7.7 per cent on the 2010–11 insurance premium.
The Department has further improved the transparency and accountability of its financial management in accordance with the Government's Operation Sunlight policies. The focus for the Department has been on the progression towards a net cash appropriation funding model, together with improvements to capital budgeting and asset management.
There was considerable work performed on enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the way we do the financial aspects of our business by harnessing technology such as deploying web-based executive financial reporting and redeploying the Financial Management Information System (SAP). The enhancements to SAP have resulted in the replacement of many manual processes with integrated, real-time processing. Daily operational needs have also become more efficient through a review, and re-engagement, of the Department's banking services provider and the rollout of an integrated, web-based credit card management system. These reforms have enhanced the Department's effectiveness in delivering its program outcomes.
We also supported NBN Co by providing financial services support for the initial phase of establishing the company. These functions were transferred to NBN Co in January 2010.
The Department's 2009–11 fraud control policy, guidelines and plan, launched on 1 July 2009, complied with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines. We have prepared fraud risk assessments and we have in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes. Fraud risks were explicitly considered as a material risk.
During 2009–10, three incidents of suspected fraud were referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), one of which was accepted for investigation. All money due to the Commonwealth in relation to this incident has now been recovered. In relation to the matters which were not accepted for investigation by the AFP, these were nevertheless investigated by the Department and monies owing to the Commonwealth were recovered.
The Department promoted the importance of ethical standards through the Department's Chief Executive Instructions, Practical Guides, training programs and human resources policies and procedures.
Staff have been advised on their individual obligations under the APS Values and Code of Conduct to manage real and perceived conflicts of interest through the Chief Executive Instructions and the 'Probity and Conflict of Interest' Practical Guide.
We offered programs on 'Leading Ethically' and 'APS Values' as part of its core training program.
We invited Ms Karin Fisher (Group Manager, Ethics Advisory Service, Australian Public Service Commission) to deliver a presentation to staff as part of our Talking Heads program on 4 August 2009, covering areas of ethical dilemma and the functions of the new Australian Public Service Commission Ethics Advisory Service.
The Department has a whistle-blowing policy and procedure in place to guide staff.
Business continuity planning
The Department launched an updated Business Continuity Plan on 25 March 2010, comprising a Policy Statement, Action Plan, Pandemic Response Plan, Critical Business Process Register and a Continuity of Government Plan as its core components. The plan also links with the Department's Emergency Response Guide, Emergency Control Organisation and IT Disaster Recovery Plan.
Key members of our Executive team and others participated in two scenario-based exercises through which the plan was reviewed, tested and updated, guided by the ANAO better practice guide on business continuity and their publication Building Resilience in Public Sector Entities.
Inherent in our Business Continuity Plan are strategies to enable key policy advice responsibilities to quickly come back online in the case of an event.
Reconciliation Action Plan
The Department's Reconciliation Action Plan 2010–12 is a tool to build positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by detailing actions we are taking to contribute to closing the gap. The plan was developed in consultation with Indigenous staff and operates in conjunction with our Indigenous Employment Plan and Workplace Diversity Plan. It was launched in May 2010 and lodged with Reconciliation Australia in June 2010.
Our Evaluation section administered evaluation policy and conducted targeted evaluations. Administered programs are usually evaluated every four years under the Evaluation program, which is set by the Performance Reporting Committee.
During the reporting period, evaluations of the following administered programs were completed:
- Regional Backbone Blackspots
- Australian Broadband Guarantee
- Clever Networks
- Backing Indigenous Ability
- Indigenous Communications
- Cyber security.
Commencing in the new reporting period, evaluations will be undertaken using a different methodology. From July 2010, we have decided to outsource our evaluation requirements to organisations on the Department's Governance Panel.
Internal audit services during 2009–10 were provided by KPMG and monitored by the Audit Committee. The 2009–10 Annual Internal Audit Plan was developed to take into account the Department's strategic risks identified in the Risk Management Plan 2009–11 and emerging issues based on consultation with senior managers. Internal audit reports were reviewed by the Audit Committee and Executive Management Group.
During the reporting period 11 reviews were completed and satisfactory actions were taken to address all recommendations contained in the reviews.
The Department's performance in tender management was reviewed in the 2010 ANAO Audit Report Number 20, 2009–10 The National Broadband Network Request for Proposal Process. The ANAO concluded that the Department conducted the Request for Proposal (RFP) process within the parameters of the Government's broadband policy and in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. We note the report's key findings that it identified the risks to a successful RFP outcome, kept the Minister informed of progress and maintained a strong commitment to the agreed timeframe.
We participated in a number of cross-portfolio audits, including Audit Report Number 4, 2009–10 The Management and Processing of Annual Leave, and Audit Report Number 17 Audits of the Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the Period Ended 30 June 2009, both tabled in this reporting period.
We also participated in an audit on Effective Cross-Agency Agreements Review, which was tabled on 26 May 2010.
Our Service Charter also provides a contact point for clients to achieve resolution of complaints from within the Department. During the reporting period, five formal service complaints were received by the Manager, Corporate Strategy and Reporting as the Client Service Manager. In each case, the complaint was investigated and a response provided to the complainant, outlining the administrative process undertaken by the Department. On each occasion, the complaints were resolved to the satisfaction of the client, as none were referred to the Commonwealth Ombudsman for further action.
During the reporting period, the Commonwealth Ombudsman received 15 approaches about the Department. Ten were made by telephone, one in writing, two in person, and two by email.
During the period, the Ombudsman closed 15 approaches covering 16 separate issues relating to the Department. Four of these, covering five issues, were investigated. There were no investigations where a finding of administrative deficiency was recorded. There were no judicial decisions or decision of administrative tribunals that had an impact on the Department's operations during 2009–10.
Appendix 2 provides detail on the work of Parliamentary Committees relevant to the Department and Appendix 3 provides further details on external scrutiny issues.
Legal Services provided legal and legal policy advice on matters of portfolio interest, supplemented where necessary by external providers under deeds of standing offer administered by the Group. These included the Australian Government Solicitor, Blake Dawson, Clayton Utz, Meyer Vandenberg, DLA Phillips Fox and Minter Ellison.
During 2009–10, Legal Services provided input on seven Bills and two sets of regulations and drafted 15 other legislative instruments. Appendix 4 provides further details about legislation.
Legal Services provided advice on a wide variety of policy matters including:
- the National Broadband Network
- the Regional Backbone Blackspots Program
- competition and consumer reforms in the telecommunications industry
- Digital Dividend Green Paper
- Do Not Call expiration of registration
- Fibre in New (Greenfields) Developments.
Legal Services also provided staff with legal awareness training and coordinated the Department's response to the Government's deregulation agenda.
Supporting our Minister
The Department supported the Minister and his office by preparing, coordinating and processing responses to ministerial correspondence and questions taken on notice, Senate Order reports, ministerial submissions and briefings including: visit, meeting, function/speeches, Question Time and Senate Estimates.
The volume of correspondence, ministerial submissions, briefs and questions on notice processed by the Department is set out in Table 3.1.
Table 3.1 Volume of correspondence, ministerial submissions, briefs and questions on notice processed by the Department
|Type of Advice||
|Question Time Briefs||
|Parliamentary Questions on Notice||
|Consumer campaign correspondence||
|Departmental Senate Estimates Questions on Notice||
|Portfolio agency Senate Estimates Questions on Notice||
* In 2009–10, parliamentary reporting of correspondence included all items received and processed, including items for information, appropriate action and response. In 2008–09 the basis for reporting was only items processed for response. In 2009–10, items processed for response totaled 7678.
Communication and media
The Communication and Media Branch supports the Department's strategic priorities by providing communication advice and various services to both the Minister's Office and the Department. Areas of responsibility include working with line areas to manage major national advertising campaigns, assisting the Minister's Office to respond to media queries, speech-writing assistance, graphic design and online media support.
Up to 30 June 2010, the Communication and Media team produced more than 130 media releases, responded to more than 700 media inquiries, and produced 112 ministerial and departmental speeches.
A major focus for this team was the delivery of the Get Ready for Digital TV advertising campaign and associated media and industry communication. Additionally, the Communication and Media team delivered the National Broadband Network campaign.
Other key achievements this year included:
- working with other areas of the Department in supporting the delivery of the Realising Our Broadband Future forum in Sydney in December 2009
- developing a new social media policy
- delivering communication advice, products and supporting announcements for the National Broadband Network
- promotion of Cyber Security Awareness Week
- implementing a new corporate brand.
The Department strives to provide a safe environment in which staff are able to deliver the Government's priority tasks and provide considered advice on public policy issues.
As at 30 June 2010, the Department employed 703 ongoing and non-ongoing staff compared with 638 as at 30 June 2009. Of these, 411 are female and 292 male and 9.53 per cent of the Department's staff work part time. Detailed staffing statistics are provided in Appendix 5.
During the reporting period, the People team provided support in a range of key areas of departmental activity including:
- negotiating a new Enterprise Agreement (EA)
- in-sourcing of the payroll and personnel services, previously undertaken by United Services Group
- implementing a new human resource information management system.
As a result of the new EA, the Department has a range of new and improved family-friendly provisions. These changes were made to better support the Department's workforce demographics, with a high proportion of young, female employees in the Department, and demonstrates a strong commitment to our staff and their families.
Through the Department's EA, the Workplace Consultative Committee (WCC) provides a forum for information sharing between the departmental management, staff and the unions. The WCC includes eight elected staff representatives, and union organisers from the Community and Public Sector Union and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
During the reporting period, the Committee met on four occasions, discussing matters such as: enterprise bargaining arrangements, performance management, organisational changes, green initiatives and matters relating to occupational health and safety.
The new EA was negotiated with bargaining representatives from the Community and Public Sector Union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and staff.
Staff survey actions
A Staff Survey Action Plan in response to the 2008 staff survey was implemented over the reporting period. A new survey will be commenced early in 2011.
In October 2009, senior executive and managers reported on improvements to branch and team communications. Workshops were held with Executive level staff to explore specific areas of concern and to inform the development of guides to assist managers at all levels. A departmental mentoring program was launched for teams to access professional facilitation services.
We also simplified performance management documentation and process. The biannual upward appraisal process that is in place for SES staff has been extended to include EL2 managers.
Talking Heads is the Department's guest speaker program, which provides exceptional access for staff to industry leaders in relevant fields. Topics canvassed included the effect of the digital economy on media policy, the future of free-to-air TV, the global financial crisis and its implications for our economy, the differences between government and private enterprise and what we can learn from the commercial world, and the process of reforming the APS.
The Talking Heads presenters for 2009–10 were:
- Dr Inge Kral—Fellow, Australian National University (for NAIDOC week)
- Lynelle Briggs—former APS Commissioner
- Karin Fisher—APSC Ethics Advisory Service
- Louise Sexton—Chair, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association
- Allan Asher —CEO, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
- Mark Sullivan AO—Managing Director, ACTEW Corporation
- The Hon. Steve Bracks AC—Chair, Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association
- Dr Ken Henry AC—Secretary, Treasury
- Dr Tim Littlejohn—IBM Australia (for International Day of People with a Disability)
- Terry Moran AO—Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Peter Harris—Secretary
- Kim Williams—CEO, Foxtel
- The Hon. Wayne Goss—Chair, Free TV Australia
- Gary Banks—Chair, Productivity Commission
- Angus Dawson—McKinsey & Company
- David Thodey—CEO, Telstra
The Department's intranet enhancement included a facility for online forums or discussion boards to enable staff to discuss ideas, voice concerns and provide feedback on a range of topics and issues affecting the Department. Further opportunities to engage with staff using blog and wiki capabilities continue to be explored.
The Web 2.0 Project focused on providing the key Web 2.0 platforms to support the Minister, Department and business areas' needs. Web 2.0 is the generic term for websites and technology that encourage interaction between users, resulting in a move away from passive viewing of websites. Generic blogging, forum and wiki software were delivered to the Department to provide a platform for collaborative and consultative online engagement with citizens, meeting some of the key objectives outlined in the Government's Web 2.0 Taskforce report.
By bringing Web 2.0 technology into the lives of staff through the Department's intranet bulletin boards, forums and wiki technology, staff are able to contribute to discussion and strategic thinking on topics that may not be the usual responsibility of their line area. The Department benefits from a variety of opinions and builds broader expertise where staff are able to share and broaden their knowledge.
In addition to a number of external consultations, we chose to use these tools as part of our EA negotiations. Web 2.0 supported the development of the EA through the online discussion forum. This tool encouraged open dialogue between staff and the EA team on the Department's proposals. We also utilised Web 2.0 technologies in external activities such as the Youth Advisory Group on cyber-safety.
Web 2.0 has successfully facilitated a change to the way consultation takes place in the Department, to an open and inclusive approach in capturing a more diverse range of views from employees. This approach will translate to wikis and blogs being made available on our website to engage with the general public on any number of potential issues. We have commenced developing practical and robust policies and processes for external Web 2.0 communication and engagement.
Capability development and performance improvement
Core skills training is provided for all staff and ranges from an induction program to training on topics such as the APS Values and Code of Conduct, ethics, policy development and financial management. During the reporting period, we delivered 32 core training programs with 440 participants.
Capability development programs are available to staff at the APS5–6, EL1 and EL2 levels. Programs for the Executive levels are designed to build leadership capability. Five programs were delivered during the reporting period: three for APS5–6 staff with 56 participants; one for EL1 staff with 17 participants; and one for EL2 staff with nine participants.
Workplace diversity and standards
The Department promotes and supports an environment where employees have a personal commitment to the positive impact that comes from valuing diversity, ensuring that we make optimal use of the backgrounds, talents and perspective of all of our employees.
The Diversity and Harassment Committee was active in reviewing departmental plans such as the Dealing with Harassment and Bullying Plan, the Workplace Diversity Plan and the Indigenous Employment Plan.
In consultation with staff with a disability, the Levelling the Playing Field for People with a Disability Plan 2009–11 was developed and is being implemented. With the assistance of a Disability Employment Service, we are trialling the employment of a person with an intellectual disability. To date the outcome of this trial has been very positive.
To support the implementation of the Dealing with Harassment and Bullying Plan, six People Skills Workshops—Prevention of Workplace Bullying and Harassment have been conducted, with 92 staff attending.
During the reporting period, there were six formal bullying and harassment complaints lodged and 17 matters informally discussed with Harassment Contact Officers and Human Resources staff. This compares to seven formal and 13 informal matters in the previous reporting period. The increase in the number of informal matters raised may be a result of greater awareness of these issues within the Department.
Reward and recognition
The Department celebrates and recognises the exceptional contribution of staff through the Reward and Recognition Program.
In January 2010, Ms Kerrie Westcott was awarded a Public Service Medal for 'Outstanding public service in the development and implementation of the Indigenous Communications Program', part of which she manages. As a result of her dedication and commitment to improving the lives of Indigenous Australians, 237 community phones were being maintained in Indigenous communities, 25 mobile satellite handsets had been provided to more transient and smaller Indigenous communities, and a further 320 phones are to be installed over the life of the program.
The Secretary presented two team awards and one individual award for the Australia Day Awards in January 2010. Team awards were presented to the Broadband Consumer Support Section for outstanding customer service 'in responding to consumer queries about the Australian Broadband Guarantee', and to the Competition and Consumer Safeguards Bill Team for 'the complex work in developing the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill'.
An individual Australia Day Award was presented to Ms Narelle Woods for 'professionalism and dedication to the Department's Accommodation Strategy, in particular the recent accommodation reorganisation'.
The Department embarked on a number of key workforce planning initiatives throughout the year, including identifying the roles that are critical in delivering our highest priorities over the next three years and the capabilities needed for success. The planning focuses on key strategic priorities, is evidence-based, and targets a small number of initiatives that can be implemented and evaluated in a timely manner.
A new succession management framework was introduced, focusing on recruiting and retaining capable staff and structuring staff development to maintain internal 'bench strength'.
We also introduced an Alumni concept during the year, to enable the Department to access the skills and expertise of retired staff to supplement in-house capability.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
The Health and Safety Committee met on four occasions during the reporting period. The Department's Health and Safety Management Arrangements (HSMA) were reviewed in consultation with staff.
We participated in the National Proactive Campaign—Health and Safety Management Arrangements Workplace Consultation 'desktop' investigation. The investigation stated that the Department was able to demonstrate a commitment to employee consultation in this area.
An independent OHS Risk Audit process was introduced in 2009–10 and an audit is to be conducted every three years. The first audit, conducted in April 2010, reported that the Department's OHS arrangements were well managed, proactive and positively applied and did not identify any significant issues.
The Department undertakes annual workplace inspections of all work areas to identify any hazards. The inspections were held in May 2010 and all recommendations made as a result of the inspections were addressed.
Ergonomic workstation assessments are conducted for all new employees and are a key initiative to assist in preventing injury of employees.
We facilitated five Mental Health First Aid courses with 72 staff participating and one Manual Handling training program for 12 staff with manual tasks as a prominent feature of their role.
As a result of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) contract expiring, we engaged a new provider (Davidson Trahaire Corpsych) who will provide a wider range of services to assist and support staff and their immediate family members.
Three notifiable incidents relating to serious personal injury were reported to Comcare during 2009–10. No Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs) were issued.
The number of claims accepted by Comcare has decreased from seven to five since the previous reporting period. The mechanisms of injury for these claims are mental stress and body stressing. The Department's claim frequency is 0.13 claims per $ million payroll for injuries incurred this year. The Department's premium for 2009–10 is 0.57 per cent of payroll or $304 305. The premium rate has consistently trended down since 2005–06.
We promote physical and mental health and work/life balance through our wellbeing program, 'Live. Life. Well.', which includes a range of health seminars covering issues such as arthritis, diabetes and resilience at work. A major component of the program is the annual influenza vaccinations and health checks offered to all staff. There are also user-pays activities and initiatives which include Zumba classes, Tai Chi, Box-fit, Yoga and Power45.
Our terms and conditions of employment
The former Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) was abolished on 3 December 2007 in administrative rearrangements. Employee terms and conditions previously provided by the DCITA Collective Agreement 2007–10 were preserved by a Determination made by the Public Service Minister on 13 March 2008, and amended on 29 October 2009, under subsection 24(3) of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act).
The Collective Agreement 2007–2010 provided for a salary increase of 4.1 per cent, payable from 1 July 2009. Of the salary increase, 1.5 per cent was linked to the achievement of pre-conditions including of performance management processes and attendance at training. These pre-conditions were met and the salary increase was paid on 1 July 2009.
Enterprise Agreement (EA)
A new Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Enterprise Agreement 2010–2011 commenced on 24 June 2010 and covers all non-SES staff employed under the PS Act. The objective of the EA is to build a strong and positive culture that will further enhance staff commitment and engagement and improve attraction and retention.
The Department consulted extensively with staff and bargaining representatives on the new EA via staff meetings and online discussion tools. The 2010–11 EA received support from 96.4 per cent of staff who voted.
Some of the key features of the new EA include:
- a three per cent salary increase, which was paid from 24 June 2010
- increases to paid maternity and adoption leave from 14 to 18 weeks
- increases to paternity leave from two weeks to four weeks
- extending probation on commencement with the APS for up to a maximum of six months
- streamlining of existing improving performance processes
- enabling access to performance bonuses for eligible EL staff.
The EA contains provisions relating to non-salary inclusions for non-SES staff including the ability for employees to sacrifice up to 100 per cent of their base salary and the ability to supplement leave.
Determinations under S 24(1) of the Public Service Act
The employment conditions for SES employees are contained in individual Determinations made under subsection 24(1) of the PS Act. The Determinations set remuneration and general conditions of service and provide for non-salary inclusions relating to superannuation, salary sacrificing, airline lounge membership, communications equipment and executive vehicle and parking arrangements.
See Appendix 5 for detailed statistical information relating to the above.
Equipping our staff to do business
Information, security, technology, facilities and support
During the reporting period, significant effort was made to improve remote connectivity to the Department's various localities and for staff working off-site.
As a result of an extensive and competitive procurement process, the Department engaged a new provider, ASG Group Limited, for ICT Managed Services. ASG assumed responsibility as the service provider in April 2010 for a term of three years.
A number of key IT projects have commenced with the assistance of ASG, including an upgrade to the Department's desktop computers and Standard Operating Environment to Windows 7, and a review of our network infrastructure to ensure that the network remains highly available and efficient.
The continued rollout of the Department's Information Management System is delivering efficiencies in business areas, with improved search and version control, and a reduction in hard copy file creation and storage.
The introduction of Web 2.0 technology has provided a platform for collaborative and consultative online engagement with clients, service providers and the public. In particular, the Department is developing a generic solution for the Department to utilise wiki, blogs and online forums for external consultation.
The Department selected Aurion Corporation as the successful tenderer to host the Department's human resources information using Aurion as the Human Resources Management Information System.
The Department operates to a capital plan reflecting Government priorities and business requirements to enable compliance with the Government's financial management framework. The Department monitors asset acquisitions and disposals against this plan.
The Department's assets are subject to an annual stocktake to update and verify the accuracy of asset records and to review the condition and utility of the assets held.
Office accommodation in Canberra has been reduced from three buildings to two—38 and 44 Sydney Avenue—as a result of a new departmental organisational structure and the expiry of one of the Department's Canberra building leases. Staff were extensively consulted in regard to the accommodation changes.
The refurbishment, completed in December 2009, involved relocating over 700 people between 9 October 2009 and 18 December 2009 with minimal disruption, and resulted in a more efficient use of space and reduced accommodation costs.
During 2009–10, security clearance processes, including acquiring or re-evaluating security clearances, were finalised for 90 staff.
During the reporting period the Department continued to strengthen its procurement and contract management capabilities.
The implementation of the new procure to pay arrangements, coupled with the upgrade to the contracts document management system (Exari) and the development of a new reporting system (Open Windows), have streamlined the Department's procurement workflows.
Consultants are engaged by the Department to provide specialised professional services either where the Department does not have the capability or capacity to perform in-house or where there is a requirement for independent advice.
During the reporting period 155 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $31.644 million. In addition, 35 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the 2009–10 year, involving total actual expenditure of $6.041 million.
Figure 3.1 presents the Department's expenditure on consultancy contracts over the three most recent financial years. The increase in the use of consultants by the Department during the reporting period is due, in a large part, to assistance provided to the Department in relation to the National Broadband Network implementation.
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available at the AusTender website at www.tenders.gov.au.
Accommodation changes project
During 2009–10, the Department undertook a major refurbishment and relocation of staff in the Canberra office accommodation. Savings were achieved in accommodation costs by consolidating into two buildings, while improving environmental performance opportunities.
A project team was established to oversee all aspects of the changes: planning, design, construction and the relocation of staff. The views of staff, the WCC, Division and Branch heads were taken into account in the final accommodation design with construction work commencing on 9 October 2009.
Relocation of staff commenced on the weekend of 9 October 2009 with the final relocation completed on 18 December 2009. The logistics of relocating large numbers of staff with minimal disruption to work, while upgrading work areas is a major challenge for any organisation. The task was very well handled by departmental staff and contractors.
Figure 3.1 Expenditure on consultancy contracts during 2007 to 2010
Auditor-General's access to contractors' premises
In 2009–10, all competitively tendered contracts of $100 000 or more (inclusive of GST) made provision for the Auditor-General to access the contractors' premises.
In 2009–10, there were no contracts or standing offers exempted by the Secretary from being published on AusTender on the basis that they would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance
The Department's commitment to improved environmental performance was enhanced through a number of initiatives and through the minimisation of adverse environmental impacts in implementing departmental activities.
A summary of the environmental management activities is provided in accordance with section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
We encouraged the more sustainable and efficient use of information technology and have a number of measures in place including:
- default double-sided printing
- encouragement of on-screen editing and reviewing
- the use of sleep/stand-by mode for computers and shut down at the end of the day
- introduction of desktop computer power monitoring
- extending the virtualising of the Department's server fleet thereby reducing the number of physical servers and correspondingly server energy consumption.
In relation to property and facilities management, we improved efficiency by:
- automated light switching
- the reduction of office accommodation in Canberra from three to two buildings
- greater staff awareness of their responsibilities in minimising energy consumption
- the installation and maintenance of water flow restriction devices on all taps and showers resulting in reduced water consumption.
In relation to recycling and waste reduction, we have a number of recycling initiatives in place such as:
- promotion of waste and paper recycling
- recycling of departmental mobile phones to the initiative They're Calling On You that supports conservation in Africa, lessens the demand for coltan metal mining and diverts mobile phones from landfill. Staff are also encouraged to recycle personal mobile phones
- maintenance of a worm farm to promote recycling of organic waste.
Our 2010 University Graduates group also commenced an environmental initiative to promote reusable cups to staff. As well as encouraging the use of mugs, the graduates introduced the KeepCup, which is a re-usable, Australian made thermal cup with a lid that can also be recycled at the end of its life. The aim of the initiative is to reduce use of disposable paper cups by staff when buying hot drinks and is designed to assist in reducing our contribution to landfill by ten per cent over twelve months. The cups are sold at cost-price and over 140 cups have been sold to date.
Environmental impacts are also considered in our procurement activities. We ensure office equipment and whitegoods are replaced with energy efficient goods.