Corporate plan 2017–18

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, 2017

The corporate plan provides information to our stakeholders and the wider community on the ​department’s purpose and how we intend to measure our activities against that purpose. Our performance measures will be reported on in the Annual Performance Statements included in the 2017–18 Annual Report, which will be released in October 2018.

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Statement of preparation

The corporate plan is a Commonwealth entity requirement under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The plan is prepared in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 and will be acquitted in the annual performance statements published in the Annual Report 2017–18. The reporting periods covered by this corporate plan are 2017–18 to 2020–21.

Foreword

I am pleased to present to our staff, clients and stakeholders the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Corporate Plan 2017–18.

We begin 2017–18 with some key commitments to be delivered, notably working to establish the Regional Investment Corporation, with the aim of commencing operations in 2018. The new corporation will consolidate loans expertise in the portfolio and streamline the concessional loans process for farm businesses.

We will also help the industry set up the new Livestock Exports Global Assurance Program and deliver new funding for the National Landcare Program.

We will continue to implement initiatives from the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper in areas including biosecurity, emergency pest and disease eradication, and will complete the implementation of improved country-of-origin food labelling. Our work to support research and development is ongoing, with the government estimated to provide more than $300 million in levy matching funds to rural research and development corporations in 2017–18.

We continue to make good progress on the management of water resources, moving closer to delivering the outcomes of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, and implementing the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility and the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

These activities add to our diverse day-to-day business to keep up the work of helping to drive a stronger Australian economy.

Our strategic view is set out in our third corporate plan under the enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework. This plan includes improvements based on the experience of our first planning and reporting cycle under the framework, which was completed with the tabling of last year’s 2015–16 annual report.

We have streamlined the strategic objectives through which we aim to deliver the department’s purpose. Reducing the number of objectives from eight to five helps simplify our performance framework over time, and better reflects the relationship between several areas of our business.

We have updated our strategic risks to improve alignment with our strategic objectives, and reviewed our risk appetite statements. Risk management is central to our business, and accepting risk is a healthy part of promoting innovation in the organisation. All staff should be able to make informed decisions about the levels of risk we are willing to accept, to improve the way we work.

There is also a renewed focus on our capability, looking ahead over the reporting periods of this corporate plan and beyond. Our consultation with staff, managers and stakeholders has identified key areas where we need to improve. In coming years we will be working to strengthen our policy capability, realise the potential of our staff, and continue to invest in good systems to support our operations and decision making.

I commend the plan to readers—staff and stakeholders—and encourage you to find out more about our work in 2017–18 and the years ahead.

Daryl Quinlivan

Our purpose

We help drive a stronger Australian economy by building a more profitable, resilient and sustainable agriculture sector, and by supporting the sustainable and productive management and use of rivers and water resources​.

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Our role

The department has a diverse role as a policy adviser to government, researcher, program administrator, service provider, market access negotiator and regulator.

Our work contributes to strengthening primary industries, delivering better returns to primary producers at the farm gate, protecting Australia from animal and plant pests and diseases, and improving the health of the country’s rivers and freshwater ecosystems.

Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry are multi-billion dollar industries that benefit from our regulation, research, policies and programs to improve their productivity, international competitiveness and sustainability.

Australia’s water is critical to the future of agriculture and the wellbeing of the environment and our communities. We work to improve the health of rivers and freshwater systems, to ensure the sustainable, efficient and productive management and use of water resources, and to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits to water users and the community.

We manage the biosecurity risks to the environment and to human, animal and plant health by ensuring the safe movement of millions of people, goods, vessels and aircraft into and out of Australia.

As a policy adviser to government, we provide rigorous, evidence-based advice, with a focus on whole-of-government priorities. Our policy advice is grounded in analysis undertaken by our scientists and research economists.

Our strategic objectives

We work to achieve our purpose through five strategic objectives.

Building successful primary industries

We develop and administer policies and programs to help Australia’s primary industries and producers become more productive and profitable. We collaborate with industries and state and territory governments to address domestic and international issues, and work with research and development corporations to promote innovation.

We also provide targeted support and financial assistance to primary producers and rural small businesses. Some of these programs involve mutual obligations, which encourage producers to adopt better-practice approaches to managing their businesses. Others provide assistance and support to farm businesses during times of hardship.

In the longer term, these programs are designed to improve the ability of primary producers to manage risks and support their families and communities.

Expanding agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports

We work with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to achieve the best outcomes for Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations.

We handle the technical aspects of market access and negotiate with trading partners on arrangements to open, maintain and improve access. We also provide expert advice in negotiations to restore markets when trade is disrupted.

We provide export inspection and certification services for primary produce to ensure exporters meet the requirements of trading partners and maintain their access to international markets. We also manage quota arrangements for commodities, including dairy, meat and livestock, exported to the European Union, Japan and the United States.

Sustaining water and other natural resources

We provide advice to the Australian Government on how best to achieve social, economic and environmental benefits from the use of water resources in the national interest.

We also administer government programs and legislation that support this objective, including the Water Act 2007, and programs implementing the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and the National Water Infrastructure Development Loan Facility.

We administer programs to promote the adoption of land-use management practices that sustain and improve Australia’s soils, waters and vegetation, support agricultural production, and strengthen the capacity of farmers and communities to respond and adapt to changes in weather, climate and markets.

We support the ecologically sustainable management of Australia’s forests through regional forest agreements and are responsible for measures to combat illegal logging and its associated trade.

We also work with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority on managing our Commonwealth fisheries, and with state and territory agencies on developing national approaches to sustainable management of the fishing industry.

We work with other agencies and stakeholders to support both national and international approaches to sustainable natural resource management.

Managing biosecurity and imported food risk

We undertake activities to preserve Australia’s favourable animal and plant health status. Our work helps to maintain overseas markets and to protect human health, the environment and the economy.

We work with our overseas trading partners to identify and manage biosecurity risks offshore, to minimise the likelihood that they arrive at our borders.

We provide biosecurity services to screen people, cargo and food entering through Australia’s airports and seaports, and undertake post-entry quarantine for animals and plants brought into the country.

We also collaborate with state and territory governments and industries to prepare for and respond to outbreaks of exotic animal and plant pests and diseases, through the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity.

Building an efficient and capable department

Our corporate capability underpins our work to deliver the government’s programs and achieve our strategic objectives.

Our Governance Strategy outlines the principles we apply to our business administration and operations management activities across the department. These include the authority that underpins our actions, our oversight and accountability mechanisms, and how we approach our business assurance and risk management.

Our People Strategy strengthens our client focus, helps us to provide safe workplaces and promotes high performance to support and challenge our staff to reach their potential and build rewarding careers.

Through our Finance Strategy, we undertake prudent financial management, make investments to maintain and improve our services to the government and our clients, and ensure our cost-recovered services are efficient, transparent and sustainably funded.

Our Information and Communication Technology Strategy supports staff productivity and capability and our commitment to modernising our service delivery.

Our scientific and economic research through ABARES provides evidence-based research and data to support policy and decision-making across our strategic objectives.

We work as a transparent and efficient regulator by building client and community understanding and trust in our advice and services. We operate under a risk-based compliance approach that recognises good performance with reduced regulatory burden.

How we work

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Our reach

The department has a wide presence across Australia and in 16 countries around the world.

We work in airports, mail centres, shipping ports, quarantine facilities, laboratories, abattoirs and offices in cities, regional centres and rural communities throughout Australia and overseas.

Our skills and experience are diverse: we are policy officers, program administrators, scientists, researchers, economists, accountants, information and communication technology specialists, veterinarians, meat inspectors, survey staff, biosecurity officers and more.

Our work involves collaboration and consultation with many other Australian Government and state and territory agencies.

Our partnerships and client base are broad and include agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries, importers and exporters, consumers, rural and regional communities, and travellers.

Our commitment to service

We provide intelligence-led and evidence-based advice and high-quality services to our ministers:

For our clients, we are committed to:

  • making our services easy to use, efficient, accessible and suitable to their needs
  • being transparent in our processes, decision-making, conduct and performance
  • respecting their privacy, confidentiality, rights and heritage
  • working together to understand how to improve our services.

Our challenges

Our strategic objectives reflect the diversity of the department’s work across agriculture, water resources and biosecurity. Our performance in delivering these objectives during the reporting periods of this corporate plan will be subject to a similarly diverse set of challenges.

Some factors are generally within the department’s control, including the work we do to:

  • deliver the government’s priorities, while operating within our allocated resources
  • manage Australia’s biosecurity and imported food risks as the volume of passengers and mail increases and global trade pathways become more complex
  • build our service delivery in a rapidly changing technological environment.

In some areas, we are able to influence the policy and operational environment, including:

  • collaborating with state and territory jurisdictions that are responsible for many of the issues affecting agriculture and water resources
  • balancing the needs of our clients and the community’s expectations with our enforcement obligations as a risk-based regulator.

There are also important challenges that are subject to factors outside the department’s control, notably:

  • the impact of a volatile global economy on the ability of primary producers to become more productive, sustainable and internationally competitive in an environment of increasing competition and changing consumer demand
  • the effects of variable weather and climate change on water supply and the quality of the other natural resources on which our industries depend.

We work to deliver policies and programs to help primary producers and communities respond to those factors, while recognising the difficulty in attributing the results of our work to long-term outcomes in these area.

Our capability

To deliver our strategic objectives, and to meet the challenges that affect our performance, the department will focus on three areas of capability during the reporting periods of this corporate plan: policy; people; and systems.

Policy

Consultation with stakeholders has indicated the department needs to strengthen its capability to develop agriculture and water resources policy, and to influence other policies affecting our portfolio industries and rural communities.

In coming years, we will build our policy capability by:

  • identifying and addressing policy skills gaps
  • improving our engagement with stakeholders to build trust, promote informed policy discussions and exchange ideas
  • shifting to a longer-term focus, beyond the reporting periods of this plan, to develop a policy picture for agriculture and water resources into the future.

People

Consultation with staff, managers and stakeholders has identified staff turnover as a key capability issue.

Staff mobility within the department, across the Australian Public Service and into the private sector is important to promote innovation and to support career development. However, this needs to be balanced with ensuring the department has the operational knowledge and expertise to do business effectively.

In coming years we will build our people capability by:

  • broadening the engagement of our staff with industry to reduce reliance on a few individuals
  • implementing a talent management program to develop our future leaders
  • delivering the new FlexABLE framework to help staff work flexibly, adopting an ‘if not, why not’ approach to creating successful flexible work practices.

Systems

The department has invested significantly in improving our business systems, including through the Service Delivery Modernisation program. Our consultation has shown the need to take a broader view of our systems capability, to continue improvements in our service delivery and to better support staff in carrying out their work.

In coming years we will continue to build our systems capability by:

  • reviewing the governance and controls for our ICT strategy and forward capital expenditure
  • ensuring future systems provide efficiency improvements for our clients and enhance the department’s ability to actively manage risk
  • establishing competency centres of excellence to better identify and allocate skills and resources for key activities and improving engagement with business areas to better deliver systems that meet the department’s business needs.

How we measure our performance

Our performance measures are designed to assess the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of our activities to meet our strategic objectives over the four reporting periods of this corporate plan. The plan provides a clear set of measures and targets for the department. A high-level subset of measures and targets is published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18. We also include a set of key activities we will be undertaking in 2017–18.

This corporate plan is structured around the department’s revised strategic objectives, as shown below.

Strategic objectives 2016–17

Strategic objectives 2017–18

Building successful primary industries

Building successful primary industries

Supporting agricultural communities

Expanding agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports

Expanding agriculture, fisheries and forestry exports

Sustaining natural resources for longer-term productive primary industries

Sustaining water and other natural resources

Improving water use efficiency and the health of rivers, communities, environmental assets and production systems

Managing biosecurity and imported food risk

Managing biosecurity and imported food risk

Building an efficient and capable department

Building an efficient and capable department

Being a best practice regulator

We have structured the corporate plan around these strategic objectives to outline planned activities, performance measures and targets.

Many of the measures and targets are unchanged from 2016–17, reflecting significant ongoing functions. In some cases they have been modified to reflect changes in programs and/or improved measures of performance.

This corporate plan includes performance measures for regulatory performance.

Further information is available on the department’s Regulator Performance Framework web page.

We will report on achievements against performance measures and targets through the annual performance statements published as part of the department’s Annual Report 2017–18.

As targets are not always comprehensive enough to stand alone without further analysis, this will be supported by other information and analysis in the annual performance statements.

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Building successful primary industries

Improve the net farm-gate returns for agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food and fibre industries.

Provide targeted assistance to help primary producers, their families and communities manage adjustment pressures.

In 2017–18, our activities will include:

Improving farm-gate returns by:

  • continuing to implement initiatives under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper to provide farmers with information on cooperatives and to streamline the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals
  • collaborating with other agencies to complete the transition to new country-of-origin food labelling requirements
  • working with industries and domestic and international stakeholders to address industry priorities
  • managing the Rural Research and Development for Profit program
  • continuing levies reform, including enabling rural research and development corporations to access levy-payer information.

Providing targeted assistance by:

  • implementing Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiatives and other financial and climate-related measures to help primary producers build their resilience and manage risk
  • establishing a Regional Investment Corporation to deliver up to $2 billion in Commonwealth farm business concessional loans and the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility
  • making available concessional loans to farm businesses affected by drought
  • making available concessional loans and other business support to dairy farmers affected by the decisions of Murray Goulburn, Fonterra and National Dairy Products to retrospectively reduce farm-gate milk prices in 2015–16
  • making available concessional loans to farmers who have exhausted their three-year entitlement to the Farm Household Allowance
  • working with the Department of Human Services to provide the Farm Household Allowance. Since July 2014, this program has assisted more than 7,400 eligible farmers and their partners experiencing financial hardship, and more than 4,600 farmers are currently receiving Farm Household Allowance income and other support
  • delivering the Rural Financial Counselling Service program to support farmers, fishing enterprises, forestry growers and harvesters and small related businesses experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship
  • improving leadership capacity and capability through the Leadership in Agricultural Industries Fund program
  • continuing to work with states and territories on national approaches to drought assistance, and reviewing the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Drought Program Reform
  • working with stakeholders and the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority to collect annual data on farm debt.

Performance measures—Strategic objective 1

Measure

Targets

 

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

Improve the net farm-gate returns for agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food and fibre industries

Portfolio industries record an increase in productivity a

Average annual productivity growth for the past 10 years is equal to or exceeds average annual market sector productivity growth over the same period

As per 2017–18

Rate of return on capital invested across portfolio industries is maintained or increased a

Annual trend growth for the past 10 years is positive for broadacre and dairy farms

As per 2017–18

The availability of safe, efficient and effective agricultural and veterinary chemicals improves

 

A legislated review of the operation of the 2013 amendments from the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment Act 2013 finds that the changes were effective

 

Investment in rural research and development corporation programs demonstrates positive returns

Mid-term evaluation of the Rural Research and Development for Profit program is positive

 

Evaluation of investment in agricultural research, development and extension shows positive returns b

 

100% of allocated funding under the Rural Research and Development for Profit program is expended in accordance with the agreed timetable

As per 2017–18

100% of rural research and development corporations are compliant with statutory and contractual requirements

As per 2017–18

A high level of efficiency is achieved in collecting and distributing levies to fund research and development in research and development corporations

Levy collection processes cost no more than 1.2% of levies disbursed

As per 2017–18

Inspections of levy agent records cover at least 20% of levy revenue over a three-year rolling average

As per 2017–18

Provide targeted assistance to help primary producers, their families and communities manage adjustment pressures

Primary producers improve their businesses and personal circumstances through access to financial and business assistance a

At least $307 million is made available to primary producers, particularly those experiencing drought or other hardship, to improve their business and personal circumstances c d

At least $57 million is made available to primary producers, particularly those experiencing drought or other hardship, to improve their business and personal circumstances ce g

At least $52 million is made available to primary producers, particularly those experiencing drought or other hardship, to improve their business and personal circumstances cf g

 
 

The Regional Investment Corporation is established and fully operational

 

Less than 3% of concessional loans administered by state and territory government delivery agencies on behalf of the Australian Government are in arrears greater than 90 days

As per 2017–18

 

At the end of the terms of their concessional loans (administered by statement and territory government delivery agencies on behalf of the Australian Government), farm businesses pay off the loans in full or return to commercial lending

As per 2019–20

100% of current Farm Household Allowance recipients complete Farm Financial Assessments and Financial Improvement Agreements in the required timeframes h i

–18

Primary producers use deposits and withdrawals under the Farm Management Deposits scheme to manage their financial risks and income variations

The number of primary producers using Farm Management Deposits is maintained or increased

As per 2017–18

Recipients of business and financial assistance report improved business management skills and increased confidence to make informed business decisions

The number of farm businesses encouraged to consider risk management in future planning increases

As per 2017–18

80% of clients who used the Rural Financial Counselling Service are more confident in making informed business decisions

As per 2017–18

 

Funding and grants programs are delivered according to requirements and have a positive end-of-program evaluation

100% of Rural Financial Counselling Service providers meet requirements

As per 2017–18

The end-of-funding evaluation of the Rural Financial Counselling Service is positive

100% of Leadership in Agricultural Industries Fund program grantees meet requirements set out in grant agreements

As per 2017–18

The Leadership in Agricultural Industries Fund program evaluation is positive

a Performance measure and targets published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18.
b Given the long-term relationship between research and development and productivity, we will not report against this performance indicator every year. 
c Performance measure and targets differ from those published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18. Figures provided here are up to date at the time of publication. 
d Based on funding made available by government for the concessional loans, Rural Financial Counselling Service, Managing Farm Risk Program, and (revised) projected uptake of the Farm Household Allowance. 
e
 Based on funding made available by government for the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Managing Farm Risk Program, and (revised) projected uptake of the Farm Household Allowance. 
f Based on funding made available by government for the Rural Financial Counselling Service and (revised) projected uptake of the Farm Household Allowance. 
g
 Concessional loans funding administered by the department will, from 2018–19, be administered by the Regional Investment Corporation. 
h
 The Farm Household Allowance is an uncapped, demand-driven program. 
i
 The required time frames for assessments and agreements are outlined in the Farm Household Support Act 2014.

Expanding agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports

Maximise returns to primary producers from selling into export markets.

Provide certification of exports to meet importing country requirements.

In 2017–18, our activities will include:

  • continuing to implement Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiatives including priority projects under the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation program, enhancing technical market access negotiation, and modernising traceability systems for exports to meet the emerging needs of international trade
  • establishing the new Livestock Exports Global Assurance Program
  • developing modern agricultural export legislation
  • reviewing the quota administration system
  • implementing Australia’s free trade agreements and continuing to work towards new agreements with other trading partners
  • developing new market access strategies at the country, region and commodity levels
  • rolling out projects to help small exporters improve market access
  • implementing the recommendations of the plant and meat export cost-recovery reviews
  • trialling electronic export certification and implementing paperless certification for specific commodities with key trading partners.

Performance measures—Strategic objective 2

Measure

Targets

 

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

The trend in value of agricultural exports increases in real terms over time a

The value of rural exports exceeds the average of the previous 10 years

As per 2017–18

Export certification meets importing country requirements a

Less than 1% of consignments are rejected as a result of export certification failure

As per 2017–18

No markets are lost as a consequence of failed departmental certification services

As per 2017–18

Access to overseas markets accepting Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports is gained, maintained or improved

Export markets are gained, maintained or improved

As per 2017–18

International policy and standards to support Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports are maintained or improved

The department’s leadership influences the work and strategic priorities of international standard setting bodies, as outlined in the department’s International Strategy

As per 2017–18

Positive industry feedback is received on agreed market access priorities and resolution of market access problems

Positive market research results

 

Positive market research results

 

a Performance measure published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18.

Sustaining water and other natural resources

Improve the environmental health of the Murray–Darling Basin consistent with national and international obligations by recovering water, including by prioritising water-saving infrastructure projects.

Help communities, irrigators and businesses to use water resources sustainably and efficiently, consistent with nationally agreed water reforms.

Support food and fibre production by promoting the sustainable use and management of soils, water and vegetation.

In 2017–18, our water resources activities will include:

  • facilitating cooperation between jurisdictions, and administering programs and infrastructure projects, to support the implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan through water recovery and the outcomes of the Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment mechanism
  • conducting an annual assessment of jurisdictions’ performance against milestones in the National Partnership Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray–Darling Basin
  • delivering the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility and the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia
  • responding to the Northern Basin Review
  • working with jurisdictions to determine urban water reform priorities, including implementation timelines
  • undertaking community consultation on the Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan
  • finalising the review of the Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement
  • delivering the updated National Water Quality Management Strategy and the major revision of the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality.
  • maintaining Australia’s international relationships on water cooperation
  • administering the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme consistent with the Act.

Our natural resource management activities will include:

  • continuing to deliver Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiatives including research and national plans to manage pest animals and weeds
  • providing analysis and advice to build the capability of farmers, fishers and foresters to productively and sustainably manage Australia’s natural resources
  • working with the Department of the Environment and Energy to administer the National Landcare Program
  • administering natural resource management and related grants programs
  • leading the government’s response to the findings of the Productivity Commission inquiry on marine fisheries and aquaculture
  • reviewing fisheries harvest and bycatch policies and implementing new legislation for fisheries management
  • continuing to implement forestry programs, including Regional Forest Agreement reviews, the enforcement of illegal logging laws and effective international engagement.

Performance measures—Strategic objective 3

Measure

Targets

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

Improve the environmental health of the Murray–Darling Basin consistent with national and international obligations by recovering water, including by prioritising water-saving infrastructure projects.

Help communities, irrigators and businesses to use water resources sustainably and efficiently, consistent with nationally agreed water reforms.

Continued water recovery in the Murray–Darling Basin, consistent with the Water Recovery Strategy a

Gap bridging water registered to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) to be at least 1,790 GL by 30 June 2018 b

Gap bridging water registered to the CEWH to be at least 2,044 GL by 30 June 2019 b

National Water Infrastructure Development Fund investments provide affordable water to support the growth of regional economies a

Co-fund the construction of three water infrastructure projects, including one in northern Australia

Co-fund the construction of two new water infrastructure projects

As per 2018–19

National Water Infrastructure Loans Facility established to support state and territory investment in water infrastructure that will provide affordable water to support the growth of regional economies a

State and territory governments have access to concessional loan funding for the construction of approved water infrastructure projects

As per 2017–18

Basin governments settle an agreed approach to implement the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism

Agreement on funding and other matters is in place to support both an SDL adjustment determination and implementation of supply, constraints and other agreed projects

Continuing roll-out of Commonwealth-funded projects

As per 2018–19

Identified pilot efficiency measure projects are delivered

Efficiency measures that allow recovery of at least sufficient water to allow full attribution of the SDL adjustment mechanism by 30 June 2019

Continuing roll-out of Commonwealth-funded projects

As per 2019–20

Completion of independent study into efficiency measures informs agreement by Basin jurisdictions on basis for efficiency measures roll-out

Jurisdictions contribute to a report on their urban water reform priorities, including implementation timelines

Final report produced by December 2017

Continuing implementation of urban water reform priorities

As per 2018–19

Finalisation of Lake Eyre Basin Intergovernmental Agreement Review

Report finalised before 30 June 2018 and provided to ministers

Implement outcomes of intergovernmental agreement review

As per 2018–19

Finalisation of Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan

Management plan finalised before 30 December 2017 and provided to ministers

Delivery of the updated National Water Quality Management Strategy via the new Water Quality website

The updated strategy is published on the website in the first quarter of 2017–18

Continued maintenance and updates

As per 2018–19

Delivery of the major revision of the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality

The major revision of the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality is published in the first quarter of 2017–18

Continued maintenance and updates

As per 2018–19

Support food and fibre production by promoting the sustainable use and management of soils, water and vegetation.

The status of the resource base is maintained or improved a

The percentage of fish stocks solely managed by the Commonwealth that are not overfished is maintained or increased c

As per 2017–18

100% of Commonwealth fisheries maintain approval under Part 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

As per 2017–18

The groundcover on agricultural land is maintained or increased when compared to the average for the past 10 years (relative to rainfall) d

As per 2017–18

Funding and grants programs are delivered according to requirements and have positive program evaluations

The National Landcare Program is delivered in accordance with grant guidelines and financial reporting arrangements

As per 2017–18

a Performance measures published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18.
b All water recovery figures are expressed in long term average annual yield (LTAAY) terms. The current Commonwealth water recovery target is 2,044 GL LTAAY, being 2,750 GL (Murray-Darling Basin Plan) less 650 GL (target for supply measure offsets plus at least 106 GL of efficiency measures so as to be consistent with the 5% SDL net adjustment limit), less 162 GL LTAAY state recoveries. These figures may change following the operation of the SDL Adjustment Mechanism and the outcome of the Northern Basin Review in 2017. 
c Status is assessed retrospectively for the previous year. 
d
 The methodology for assessing the status of the resource base using remote sensing is being reported for the first time.

Managing biosecurity and imported food risk

Use evidence-based risk management to ensure the safe movement into Australia of people, animals, plants, food and cargo.

Coordinate emergency responses to exotic pest and disease incursions.

In 2017–18, our activities will include:

  • ​​continuing to manage biosecurity risks associated with goods imported into Australia​
  • continuing to deliver Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiatives to strengthen biosecurity through enhanced surveillance, intelligence and traceability systems
  • implementing the government's response to the independent review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity
  • continuing to deliver a modern, flexible biosecurity system under the Biosecurity Act 2015
  • implementing improvements to the Imported Food Inspection Scheme
  • progressing major reviews of import conditions for prawns and prawn products, psittacines and fresh beef to ensure Australia's biosecurity is not compromised, while supporting trade
  • streamlining risk assessments and permit issuing for live animals and biological products
  • implementing recommendations from the marine pests review
  • implementing new ballast water legislation
  • progressing a major review of current import conditions and streamlining import processes for plant-based products.

Performance measures—Strategic objective 4

Measure

Targets

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

Australia maintains a favourable pest and disease status a

Department assessment that a favourable pest and disease status is maintained b c

As per 2017–18

Pest and disease eradication is funded throughout the year based on national priorities

As per 2017–18

The Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity is found to be effective in managing the national biosecurity system

The effectiveness and efficiency of biosecurity and food interventions on import pathways improves d

The post-intervention compliance rate for passengers and mail is maintained or improved

As per 2017–18

Interventions on low-risk pathways are reduced e

As per 2017–18

The compliance rate for all food inspected is maintained or improved

As per 2017–18

Responses to biosecurity and imported food incidents improves

The department assesses that responses to biosecurity and imported food incidents have improved

As per 2017–18

Risk assessments for imported goods use science-based risk analysis, drawing on the best available scientific information and advice

100% of import risk assessments are conducted in accordance with regulations and the best available science and advice

As per 2017–18

The ability of governments, industry and the community to quickly and effectively respond to exotic pest and disease incursions improves

Responses to pest and disease incursions and outbreaks are managed according to relevant frameworks

As per 2017–18

Requests for rapid response in the event of a significant exotic pest or disease outbreak are responded to immediately

As per 2017–18

100% of priority emergency plans (AUSVETPLAN, AQUAVETPLAN, EMPPLAN and PLANTPLAN) reflect contemporary science of emergency responses to plant and animal pests and diseases

As per 2017–18

Public awareness of biosecurity risks improves

The number of followers on and the total reach of the Australian Biosecurity Facebook page is maintained or increased

As per 2017–18

Positive market research results

As per 2018–19

a Performance measure published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18
b
 Assessment based on information including OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) notifications, plant incursions and market access issues directly related to biosecurity. 
c Qualitative assessment of the domestic impact of significant incursions will be included in the annual performance statement. 
d Performance measures for post-compliance rates for cargo will be developed. 
e
 For imported plant products only.

Building an efficient and capable department

Focus on performance, deliver on our objectives, meet our statutory obligations and parliamentary requirements, and continuously build organisational capability.

In 2017–18, our activities will include:

  • continuing to improve the department’s safety and rehabilitation management systems and fostering a positive safety culture
  • enhancing the department’s learning and development to reinforce an active learning culture
  • continuing efforts to effectively manage unscheduled absences
  • implementing a new enterprise agreement
  • implementing our new Reconciliation Action Plan, and continuing activities to attract and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff
  • implementing strategic ICT projects that support and simplify departmental operations, including the Financial Management Information System and the Biosecurity Integrated Information System
  • implementing a continuous desk-top refresh program that supports departmental operations, mobile computing and flexible working
  • continuing to refine and simplify ICT processes, including project costings, our internal financial management and reporting and performance measurement framework
  • supporting departmental initiatives that contribute to the government’s Public Data, Digital Transformation, and Shared and Common Services program agendas
  • continuing the Service Delivery Modernisation program, including analysis and business case development for client management, service optimisation and workload management.

Performance measures—Strategic objective 5

Measure

Targets

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

2020–21

A positive, professional and engaged workforce is maintained or improved

The employee engagement score in the APS Employee Census is maintained or improved a b

As per 2017–18

The unscheduled absence rate is reduced

As per 2017–18

The gender balance in the Senior Executive Service is maintained or increased

As per 2017–18

The gender balance of staff in each division is maintained or increased

As per 2017–18

Indigenous employment is 2.5% or greater

As per 2019–20

The department maintains safe and healthy workplaces

The notifiable incident rate is maintained or reduced c

As per 2017–18

The lost time injury frequency rate is maintained or reduced d

As per 2017–18

The department’s Comcare premium is maintained or reduced

As per 2017–18

Stakeholders and clients assess ABARES research and analysis as high-quality, evidence based, accurate and meeting their needs

Our research products meet stakeholder expectations

As per 2017–18

Respondents are satisfied that the ABARES Outlook Conference met or exceeded expectations e

As per 2017–18

The department delivers a balanced and financially sustainable budget

A balanced budget is set at the beginning of the financial year

As per 2017–18

The department manages its cash in accordance with its capital management plan and with regard to its forward year commitments

As per 2017–18

The end-of-year financial position is consistent with forecasts from the start of the year

As per 2017–18

Information and communication technology meets the department’s business needs

Average availability across all systems of 99.5% f

As per 2017–18

All information and communication technology projects scheduled for delivery in the 2017–18 financial year are delivered on time and within budget, following the department’s project management governance framework

As per 2017–18

Business processes and client services are improved through the better use of modern technology and improved work practices, and agreed service standards are met f

Service delivery modernisation deliverables aligned to the following capability streams: client management; service optimisation; and workload management

As per 2017–18

Agreed service standards are met

As per 2017–18

Regulatory practices seek to minimise the impact of regulation on clients and stakeholders

New and amended regulations consider impacts on regulated entities g

As per 2017–18

We assess and report our performance as a regulator h

As per 2017–18

a APSC Census results assessed retrospectively for the previous year. 
b Employee engagement score uses the average engagement scores across the following categories: job engagement; team engagement; supervisor engagement; and agency engagement. 
c A notifiable incident is defined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and includes: death of a worker; or serious injury or illness requiring immediate treatment as an inpatient at a hospital or treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance or dangerous incident prescribed by the Work Health and Safety Regulations. 
d
 Baseline data not available until 2017–18. 
e
 ABARES annual Outlook survey. 
f Excludes failures of infrastructure or equipment hosted by external vendors or on public networks that are outside of the department’s control. 
g Based on regulator impact assessments and preliminary assessments undertaken by the department for the reporting period. 
h Based on published regulator performance assessments for the preceding year.

How we manage risk

Our Enterprise Risk Management Policy and Framework are administered in line with the requirements of the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy. We take a risk-based approach to policy and program development, and integrate risk management with our governance, planning and performance management processes.

In 2016–17, we reviewed our risk governance arrangements, including our strategic risks and the department’s risk appetite statement.

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Our strategic risks

For 2017–18, the department has identified four areas of strategic risks, aligned to our strategic objectives:

  • pest and disease incursions—maintaining capacity to prevent and respond to incursions
  • maintaining and improving market access—enabling the expansion of agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports, as well as preparing for and quickly responding to any loss of market access
  • productive primary industries and sustainable natural resources—developing and implementing policies and programs that support profitable primary industries and sustainable natural resources
  • an efficient and effective department—ensuring the financial, workforce and systems capability of the department is sufficient to meet our legal obligations and achieve our strategic objectives.

Of the four strategic risks, three focus externally and are concerned with the department achieving its strategic objectives. The other focuses internally on the department’s capacity and capability to achieve its strategic objectives. This implementation capability is also a key feature of how well we are managing all other risks.

The strategic risks are monitored regularly by the Executive Management Committee, as our key governance body.

Each division develops a risk plan as part of its annual business plan, and risk management procedures are integrated into our project management processes.

Our risk appetite

The department faces a range of risks reflecting its responsibilities as a policy adviser, researcher, program administrator, service provider, market access negotiator and regulator. These include risks in our business areas of biosecurity, primary industries, water resources and natural resource management, and trade and market access, as well as our corporate support.

We recognise that it is not possible, or necessarily desirable, to eliminate all of the risks inherent in our work. Accepting some degree of risk in our business practices promotes efficiency and innovation.

However, in other areas, for example the safety of our staff and threats to biosecurity, our risk appetite (the level of risk we are willing to accept) is very low.

Our risk appetite and tolerance for each of our major business functions have been established in our Risk Appetite Matrix. These tolerances provide our staff with a clear understanding of tolerated levels of risk, enabling them to make informed decisions and confidently manage risk within clearly defined boundaries across the business. Resources are available and prioritised to control risks to acceptable levels.

Our fraud control

Our Fraud and Corruption Control Plan provides a comprehensive framework for identifying, deterring, detecting, investigating and reporting fraud and corruption, and meeting broader government obligations. Fraud and corruption risk assessments are undertaken biennially to identify risks, treatment strategies, responsibilities, target dates and reporting obligations.

The department promotes a strong culture of integrity and adherence to the APS Values and Code of Conduct, with zero tolerance for fraud and corruption. Senior management are expected to lead by example and demonstrate high standards of professionalism, integrity and ethics. All staff undertake mandatory training on understanding, recognising and reporting fraud and corruption. We report annually on our fraud management to the Australian Institute of Criminology.

In accordance with the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006, prescribed employees of the department are under the jurisdiction of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

Our security

Our Protective Security Control Plan provides the framework for preventing, deterring and detecting security risks, and for meeting the security obligations detailed in the Australian Government’s Protective Security Policy Framework. We conduct security-focused risk assessments biennially.

All departmental officers complete biennial security training in recognising security vulnerabilities, understanding security obligations and reporting security incidents. Staff who require access to security classified information are required to obtain and maintain an appropriate security clearance.

We report annually on our compliance with the Protective Security Policy Framework to the Attorney-General’s Department and other key stakeholders.

Our assurance processes

Our Audit Committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the secretary on our risk, performance, control and compliance framework and our external accountability responsibilities.

The internal audit function reports to the Audit Committee and works independently of business areas to evaluate our management systems, practices and controls. External service providers are also contracted to undertake audit functions. Audits provide assurance to senior management on corporate governance and departmental administration, as well as our ability to meet the department’s objectives.

The Inspector-General of Biosecurity is responsible for enhancing the integrity of Australia’s biosecurity systems through the independent evaluation and verification of the performance of our programs. The Inspector-General reports to the Minister, and completed audits and reviews are published at IGB.

The Australian National Audit Office conducts audits of our performance and the annual financial statements.