Corporate governance and performance

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Corporate governance

Compliance with section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule (PGPADefinition:Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule)

Our fraud control arrangements comply with section 10 of the PGPA Rule and the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework. A department-wide fraud risk assessment was carried out in 2016–17. It found that the fraud control environment in place for corporate processes and administered programs is commensurate with the structure and size of the Department.

Compliance with section 19 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and sections 17A(2)(d) and (e) of the PGPA Rule

There were no instances of significant non-compliance with finance law reported in 2016–17.

Management committees

Executive Leadership Team (ELTDefinition:Executive Leadership Team)

The ELT, comprising the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries and First Assistant Secretaries, provides support to the Secretary in discharging their statutory roles as:

  • principal policy advisor to the Minister for Communications and the Minister for the Arts, and the Minister for Regional Communications
  • manager of government programs, to achieve portfolio and whole-of-government outcomes
  • leader within the Department and across the Australian Public Service (APSDefinition:Australian Public Service)
  • an accountable authority under the PGPA Act.

The ELT supports the Secretary through:

  • providing collective advice on whole-of-department and portfolio issues
  • collaborating on policy development, resource management and organisational capability development
  • actively promoting and modelling the Department’s agreed culture and corporate values.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee of the Department incorporates ELT members and the Chief Risk Officer. The Executive Committee is a decision-making body that meets weekly to discuss current and emerging issues relevant to the Department and portfolio. Departmental staff are regularly invited to attend ‘ExCom’ meetings to engage in discussions on agenda items relevant to their work area, and minutes of the meetings are made available to all staff on the intranet.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee provides independent advice and assurance to the Secretary on the appropriateness of financial and performance reporting, the system of risk oversight and management, and internal controls.

The Audit Committee comprises external and internal members and has an independent chair. The majority of committee members are external.

The Audit Committee met five times in 2016–17. The Department’s Performance and Financial Statements Subcommittee of the Audit Committee, which assists with the Department's financial and performance reporting responsibilities and other related matters as requested by the Audit Committee, met six times in 2016–17.

Investment Committee

The Investment Committee provides strategic advice to the ELT on our significant financial investments. This includes considering proposals and providing guidance on medium and longer term investments, as well as monitoring the implementation and management of projects and new initiatives.

The Investment Committee met seven times in 2016–17, approved funding for 17 new proposals and oversaw the successful completion of nine projects. The remaining projects that commenced in 2016–17 are due for completion early in the new financial year.

Health and Safety Committee

The Health and Safety Committee is a key forum that supports our safety culture. It is an integral component of our Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Framework and has responsibility for achieving positive outcomes for the Department in the management of WHS issues. The Health and Safety Committee met four times in 2016–17.

Workplace Consultative Committee

The Workplace Consultative Committee is the principal forum through which formal consultation and discussions on workplace relations matters take place between management and employees. The Workplace Consultative Committee met three times in 2016–17.

Business Planning Framework

Our Business Planning Framework includes the identification, documentation and regular monitoring of risks and mitigation strategies.

Risk management and fraud control

During 2016–17, the Department recruited a Senior Executive Service (SESDefinition:Senior Executive Service) officer to the position of Chief Risk Officer to lead the newly established Risk and Audit Branch. The Department’s Risk Management Framework includes our Risk Management Policy, Risk Management Instruction and Fraud Control Plan. An independent review of the Department’s Risk Management Framework was undertaken during the year to review the Department’s approach to risk. Work is underway to update the Risk Management Policy, Risk Management Instruction and Fraud Control Plan as recommended by this review.

The enhanced Risk Management Framework facilitates a culture that promotes an open and proactive approach to managing risk. It encourages risk assessment, informed risk taking, and the anticipation and treatment of risk in delivering our objectives. Our risk oversight includes regular monitoring and reporting on the risk environment to both the Audit Committee and the ELT.

Business continuity planning

Our Business Continuity Plan outlines policies, procedures and responsibilities to support the continuity of our key activities in the event of a business interruption. A business impact analysis was conducted in 2016–17 to identify our most critical business processes, the activities and resources required to support those processes, and the completeness of our current response strategies. This exercise will inform both an update to our Business Continuity Plan and a simulation exercise to be conducted in 2017–18. Our current Business Continuity Plan was last updated in 2015–16.

Internal audit

During 2016–17, internal audit services were provided by Ernst & Young, Charterpoint, RSM Australia and Protiviti. The delivery of these audit services was overseen by our internal audit team and the Audit Committee.

As at 30 June 2017, four internal audits (including two short ‘in-flight’ audits) were completed, and three internal audits were underway.

Recommendations were tracked and reported to the Audit Committee and the Secretary.

External scrutiny

In 2016–17, the Commonwealth Ombudsman made no investigation or inspection reports on the operations of our Department. During this period, there were no judicial decisions, decisions of administrative tribunals or decisions by the Australian Information Commissioner that had a significant impact on the Department’s operations.

During the year, we took part in two Australian National Audit Office (ANAODefinition:Australian National Audit Office) financial statement related cross-portfolio audits:

  • Interim Report on Key Financial Controls of Major Entities—published 28 June 2017.
  • Audits of the Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the Period Ended 30 June 2016—published 23 January 2017.

In 2016–17, two ANAO cross-portfolio Performance Audit Reports that involved our participation in 2015–16 were published:

  • Award of Funding under the Mobile Black Spot Program—published 1 September 2016.
  • Machinery of Government Changes (survey only)—published 31 August 2016.

In 2016–17, we took part in three ANAO performance audits which had not been published as at 30 June 2017:

  • Management of the Contract for Telephone Universal Service Obligations.
  • Administration of the National Broadband Network Satellite Support Scheme.
  • Australia Post—Efficiency of Delivering Reserved Letter Services.

Client Service Charter

Our Client Service Charter offers a contact point for clients to resolve complaints with us. One formal complaint was received during the reporting period.

Freedom of information (FOIDefinition:freedom of information)

We received 30 FOI requests in 2016–17. This is 46 per cent fewer than 2015–16 (when 55 requests were received) but is in line with 2014–15 (when 31 requests were received).

Each of the requests finalised in 2016–17 was processed within the statutory processing period and involved requests for non-personal information. There were:

  • six requests by or on behalf of Members of Parliament
  • six requests from media organisations
  • 18 requests from private individuals or made anonymously.

Documents released under FOI are published in our FOI disclosure log, unless an exception applies under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

Entities subject to the FOI Act are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) under Part II of the FOI Act. Each agency must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements.

Visit our website to view our Information Publication Scheme Plan and FOI disclosure log.

Parliamentary committee inquiries

During 2016–17, we appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications for Supplementary Budget Estimates, Additional Budget Estimates and Budget Estimates.

We also made appearances before, and submissions and responses to, parliamentary committee inquiries during the year (Table 3.1).

Table 3.1 Appearances before, and submissions and responses to, parliamentary committee inquiries



Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications — Legislation Committee

  • Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016
  • Interactive Gambling Amendment (Sports Betting Reform) Bill 2015
  • Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016

Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters

  • Inquiry into and report on all aspects of the conduct of the 2016 Federal Election and matters related thereto

Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills

  • Communications Legislation Amendment (Deregulation and Other Measures) Bill 2017
  • Commercial Broadcasting (Tax) Bill 2017

Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances

  • Radiocommunications (Aircraft and Aeronautical Mobile Stations) Class Licence 2016 [F2016L01294]
  • Radiocommunications (Spectrum Access Charges — 2 GHzDefinition:Gigahertz Band) Determination 2016 [F2016L01021]
  • Radiocommunications (Emergency Locating Devices) Class Licence 2016 [F2016L01399]
  • Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Allocation — 700 MHzDefinition:Megahertz Band) Determination 2016 [F2016L01970]

Joint Standing Committee on Treaties

  • Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement
  • Partial Revision of the 2012 Radio Regulations as incorporated in the International Telecommunications Union Final Acts of the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15)

Senate References Committee on Environment and Communications

  • Inquiry into the harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the internet

Senate Standing Committees on Economics —Legislation Committee

  • Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Bill 2016

Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network

  • Public hearing–23 June 2017

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts

  • Inquiry into the Australian film and television industry

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Petitions

  • PN0033—Mobile Coverage—Sulphur Creek
  • EN0210—Postcodes—Suburbs covered by postcode 4306
  • EN0165—Classification of Video Games
  • EN0166—National Broadband Phone Landline
  • PN0056—NBNDefinition:National Broadband Network—Rollout Ascot Exchange
  • EN0091—Website Censorship
  • EN0081—Community Television

Legal services

The Office of the General Counsel provided legal advice about portfolio issues and transactions, including:

  • media reform
  • spectrum reform
  • telecommunications reform
  • better practice regulation, including remaking significant regulations on sunsetting and productivity-enhancing reforms in both the arts and communications sectors
  • departmental procurements and grants, including the Mobile Black Spot Program (rounds 1 and 2) and arts sector programs
  • arrangements to facilitate the auction of 700 megahertz (MHz) spectrum
  • copyright and intellectual property
  • OPEL litigation
  • administration of arts sector policies and programs.

During 2016–17, the Office of the General Counsel provided input on 11 portfolio bills and 25 portfolio legislative instruments. Appendix 3 provides further details about legislation.


Our focus in 2016–17 has been on streamlining our processes, supporting our Canberra office’s move to new premises, and upskilling our staff to ensure we offer a high-quality and responsive service to our ministerial offices, staff and stakeholders. Following extensive work in 2015–16, we implemented a digital-first approach for our communication activities, and increased our use of video and graphic content to create contemporary, sharable and more accessible external information on our initiatives and programs. While continuing to maintain specialisation within the branch, we have provided training to cross-skill staff to make sure they have ability in basic web publishing, social media and imagery creation.

We continued to be closely involved with the design and implementation of the govCMS platform, including through the ‘Have Your Say’ website function which we have used to support 10 policy consultations over the year. User testing and collaboration with other government agencies has informed ongoing improvements to the function and ensures alignment with the Digital Transformation Agency’s Digital Service Standard. The strength and versatility of the platform has been well received externally, and it has been successfully packaged and made available to all govCMS users, including state and local government departments and agencies. The new website, which also uses the govCMS platform, went live in September 2016 following an extensive information architecture and content review.

Also in 2016–17, we reviewed our social media strategy to incorporate the arts portfolio and promote the importance of the arts in Australia. The new strategy has seen the @artsculturegov Twitter account achieve a 25 per cent increase in engagement and a 69 per cent increase in the number of tweets liked from the previous year. The communications and arts LinkedIn account also had a strong increase of 34 per cent in followers and the @CommsAu Twitter account experienced a 6 per cent increase in followers.

Preparing for the Department’s relocation of its Canberra office to the Nishi building in the New Acton precinct enabled us to refocus how we communicate, collaborate and work with our colleagues. We developed and implemented a comprehensive communication strategy to promote the benefits of the relocation and to support staff throughout the move. This included an interactive and engaging suite of internal communications products designed to influence culture and the way staff work and engage with each other.

Information and communications technology (ICTDefinition:information and communications technology)

In 2016–17, we continued to build upon our ICT investment from previous years in improving access to leading-edge communication technologies. As part of our Canberra office’s relocation to the Nishi building, we are refreshing our ICT.

We are implementing new capabilities across the organisation that will enhance staff access to communications, building on the Department’s existing mobility platform. Staff will adopt new technology that will allow them to work collaboratively across geographical locations, both in and outside of the workplace, with access to content sharing, and voice and video conferencing.

The Department has completed the migration of its ICT services across to the ‘cloud’ in line with the Australian Government’s ‘cloud first’ directive that was first announced in 2014. The adoption of cloud services is expected to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve service delivery, while maintaining data security.

At the completion of these activities, the Department will be one of the first Australian Government agencies to have adopted PROTECTED-level cloud-based services.

Environmental performance

We have maintained our commitment to continuing and improving our environmental performance through various initiatives:

  • An upgrade of our printing capability has allowed us to reduce our printer to staff ratio for Canberra-based staff from 9:1 to 47:1, with a related reduction in consumables.
  • We are moving away from individual desk bins to promote an increased focus on recycling organic waste.
  • The installation of Dyson Airblade hand dryers has significantly reduced the consumption of paper towel.

The Department is committed to complying with the sustainability targets consistent with the six-star Nishi building.

Compliance of section 24Y of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983

We provided secretariat support to the independent Nomination Panel for Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABCDefinition:Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBSDefinition:Special Broadcasting Service Corporation) Board appointments for two merit-based selection processes. The first process involved the SBS Chairperson position and two non-executive Director positions on each of the ABC Board and the SBS Board. This process was completed in February 2017. The second process involved the ABC Chairperson position and was completed in March 2017.