Online version of the 2013-14 Department of Health Annual Report

3.1: Corporate Governance

The Department’s governance framework provides the structure for informed decision making, efficient and effective programme management, risk management and accountability

Page last updated: 17 July 2019

The structure of high level committees, as indicated below, provides the Department with a transparent, rigorous and robust capacity for effective governance.

Figure 3.1.1: High Level Committee Structure

Figure 3.1.1 is hierarchy structure chart of the high level committees in the Department. The Secretary oversees all committees with the Executive Committee and Audit Committee reporting directly. The Executive Committee directly oversees the Policy Advisory Group, Finance Risk and Security Committee, People and Capability Committee, Information Knowledge and Technology Committee, and the Departmental Change and Innovation Committee.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee meets weekly and is the Department’s primary decision making body. It comprises the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries, the National Manager of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Financial Officer. It is responsible for making decisions on Departmental policy and operational issues.

In 2013-14, the Committee considered:

  • high impact immediate and emerging issues;
  • key risks and mitigation strategies;
  • people management issues;
  • expenditure proposals involving major investment;
  • business planning and internal resource allocation;
  • Departmental structure and function;
  • Departmental capability and positioning for the future; and
  • recommendations from other governance and decision-making committees in the Department.

Corporate Plan 2014-2017

During 2013-14, the Department developed a new Corporate Plan, which has been positioned within the context of the Government’s policy directions. The Plan sets the direction for the Department over the next three years and informs business planning and individuals’ performance and development plans.

The 2014-2017 Corporate Plan aligns with the strategic directions outlined in the Portfolio Budget Statements and with the values and performance frameworks set out by the Australian Public Service Commission (as outlined in Figure 3.1.2).

All staff and the Department’s Executive Committee were consulted on the development of the Corporate Plan.

Figure 3.1.2: Business Planning and Performance Framework

Figure 3.1.2 is a chart which shows the individual documents that support the Department’s business planning and performance framework. Documents range from those that assist in planning the performance of individuals to those that assist with planning Government priorities and legislation.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee comprises three independent external members, one of whom is the Chair, and six Departmental members. Representatives from the Australian National Audit Office also attended Committee meetings.

The Committee met seven times during 2013-14 and provided independent assurance and advice to the Secretary on the Department’s risk, control and compliance framework and its external accountability responsibilities. Additionally, the Committee reviewed the Department’s financial statements and advised the Secretary on their signing.

The Committee regularly reviewed the coverage of audits throughout the Department against the Internal Audit Work Plan and provided input and feedback on the financial statements and performance audit coverage afforded by the Australian National Audit Office.

Policy Advisory Group

Established in June 2012, the Policy Advisory Group provides strategic oversight and advice to the Executive Committee on the development and implementation of major health policy reform.

The Group is the Department’s central means of responding to health policy challenges and complexities. It aims to improve linkages between policy design and programme delivery to maintain the Department’s strategic directions and resourcing capability.

The Group is chaired by a Deputy Secretary, with 14 other members at both the Deputy Secretary and First Assistant Secretary level. The Chief Medical Officer and those First Assistant Secretaries and Principal Advisers who are not formal members of the Policy Advisory Group are also able to participate.

The Group met four times during the year and considered issues including:

  • health expenditure trends and projections;
  • the contribution of health to productivity and the economy;
  • optimising value in health investment, health workforce programmes;
  • the social determinants of health; and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Finance, Risk and Security Committee

The Finance, Risk and Security Committee provides advice and makes recommendations to the Executive Committee on financial management, risk management (including the Department’s Work, Health and Safety framework) and strategic security management policies, initiatives and reviews. In addition, it is a forum for the discussion, prioritisation and planning of such matters.

The Committee is chaired by a Deputy Secretary with 11 members representing key areas of the Department. The Committee met on three occasions in 2013-14.

Key activities considered by the Committee in 2013-14 included:

  • review and management of strategic risk mitigations consistent with the Department’s endorsed Risk Management Framework;
  • review of the Department’s framework for managing work health and safety;
  • implementation of the new Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (PGPA) Act 2013;
  • endorsement of the Rehabilitation Management System (RMS) Overview;
  • monitoring and management of the Department’s risk profile following significant Departmental restructure and Machinery of Government (MoG) changes;
  • consideration of key Departmental financial issues impacting business unit allocations due to Departmental restructure, change in Government, MoG changes, 2014-15 Budget;
  • consideration of the status of Departmental capital projects and associated appropriation funding;
  • endorsement of updates on strategic security policy, framework improvements and testing programme including those associated with the Business Continuity Plan and the Disaster Recovery Plan; and
  • review of the framework supporting 2014-15 business planning, including consideration of Budget outcomes and rebasing of divisional Departmental allocations.

People and Capability Committee

In 2013-14, the Department’s People Committee changed its name to the People and Capability Committee to better reflect its additional role in considering workforce planning and talent management. Along with the name change, new Terms of Reference were established.

The Committee provides advice and makes recommendations to the Executive in order to:

  • ensure the Department has the people and capability it needs now and into the future;
  • provide advice and direction on recruitment, training and redundancy;
  • ensure the Department is effective in performance management and has strategies in place to ensure a positive working environment;
  • ensure the Department maintains effective work, health and safety practices;
  • ensure the workforce is sustainable to maintain; and
  • facilitate increases in productivity and efficiency.

The Committee plays an active role in ensuring the goals and activities articulated in the People Strategy 2010-2015: Performance through People are achieved, and facilitates reporting on the measurement and success of these goals. The Committee will consider measures required to reach Departmental efficiency goals to ensure that the capability to deliver key portfolio outcomes is not compromised.

The Committee’s membership was also refreshed this year. The Committee is chaired by a Deputy Secretary and consists of nine Senior Executive Service staff from across the Department.

Information, Knowledge and Technology Committee

The Information, Knowledge and Technology Committee is chaired by the Chief Information and Knowledge Officer (Deputy Secretary) and has senior executive membership from across the Department. The Committee meets monthly and is accountable to the Executive Committee.

The Committee provides advice and makes recommendations to the Executive on strategic information, knowledge and technology matters. The Committee guides and monitors the implementation of the strategies covering the Department’s information and knowledge management activities as well as the overall information technology activities.

Matters considered by this Committee include:

  • the Information and Knowledge Management Vision, Principles, Strategy, Governance Frameworks and Implementation Plans;
  • the Departmental Systems Development Strategy;
  • the overall IT Delivery Work-plan; and
  • the outcomes of major policy and reform projects that design and deliver systems that contribute to enterprise capabilities.

The Committee also provides advice to the Executive and the Finance, Risk and Security Committees on proposed projects to ensure alignment with approved information, knowledge and technology directions, strategies and plans.

Data Governance Council

The Data Governance Council is a sub-committee of the Information, Knowledge and Technology Committee and is chaired by the Chief Information and Knowledge Officer. The Council makes policy recommendations on data governance issues and implements data management strategies to support the Department’s policy position. The Council meets bi-monthly.

Departmental Change and Innovation Committee

The Departmental Change and Innovation Committee was formally established in February 2014 and provides advice and recommendations to the Executive on change and innovation approaches and initiatives, projects and programmes and their impacts on the Department. The Committee meets quarterly at a minimum.

The Committee is chaired by a Deputy Secretary and consists of ten Senior Executive Service staff. Other attendees may be invited to participate or observe in meetings of the Committee, as required.

Internal Audit Arrangements

Primary responsibility for internal audit arrangements within the Department rests with Audit and Fraud Control Branch under the broad direction of the Department’s Audit Committee.

Audit and fraud control

Audit and Fraud Control Branch promoted and improved the Department’s corporate governance by conducting audits and investigations and providing independent advice and assistance to Departmental senior management.

In 2013-14, Audit and Fraud Control Branch conducted audits and reviews based on the Audit Work Plan approved by the Audit Committee. The Plan covered compliance with Departmental control frameworks, grants and contract management, IT management, and Departmental expenditure and procurement activities.

Fraud minimisation strategies

During 2013-14, the Department continued to train staff in fraud awareness and began a rolling programme to identify fraud risks for inclusion in the next fraud control plan.

The Department received 27 allegations of fraud during 2013-14, with three being referred to the Australian Federal Police or State/Territory police for investigation. None of these resulted in a prosecution. All other allegations were subject to internal investigation and administrative action where appropriate. One investigation from a previous year was referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Risk management

The Department’s vision for better health and wellbeing for all Australians is supported by fostering a strong, flexible and healthy risk culture.

The Department integrates its risk management practice with broader management processes and improvements, for the purpose of achieving better outcomes within the Portfolio.

The Department has a comprehensive Risk Management Framework (Framework) that aligns responsibility and accountability for risk across the Department. The Framework enables effective identification and management of risks associated with business and financial challenges that could impact on the Department achieving its outcomes.

The Framework is based on the Comcover – Better Practice Guide: Risk Management and the international standard AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines. The Framework outlines the Department’s commitment to a positive risk culture and the arrangements for implementing, monitoring, reviewing and continually improving risk management throughout the organisation.

As a key component of the Framework, the Executive regularly discuss and review the Enterprise Risk Management Plan and the Strategic Risks, including new and emerging risks.

In 2013-14, the Department increased the capacity and capability of staff to manage risk through communication, formal training and awareness sessions. Managers were equipped with the knowledge and skills to allow them to effectively identify, treat and manage their business risks.

Our risk management performance is regularly reviewed, measured and reported through the Comcover Benchmarking Survey. The results from the Department’s 2014 Comcover Benchmarking Survey illustrate the focus and commitment of the organisation to continually enhance and embed a positive risk environment, as the Department achieved an above average score against other participating agencies.

Certification of Departmental Fraud Control Arrangements

I, David Learmonth, certify that:

  • the Department has prepared fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans;
  • the Department has in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes that meet the specific needs of the agency; and
  • I have 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.

The image is of Acting Secretary David Learmonth’s signature, certifying the Department’s Fraud Control Arrangements.

David Learmonth
Acting Secretary
October 2014

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