Corporate governance

​​Corporate governance framework

At DAFF, we work to sustain the way of life and prosperity of all Australians. Our corporate governance framework provides the mechanisms to ensure that we set and pursue our objectives efficiently, effectively and ethically.

Our framework is based on an executive committee structure and a set of assurance arrangements to provide:

  • clear leadership, direction and oversight
  • sound planning
  • robust performance management
  • strong financial management
  • appropriate systems and controls
  • integrated risk management
  • effective workforce planning
  • business improvement
  • accountability, transparency and integrity.

Our framework supports a culture that promotes and upholds the Australian Public Service (APS) Values and Code of Conduct, enables us to monitor and improve our performance and ensures that we comply with relevant legislation.

Leadership, direction and oversight

The Executive Management Team (EMT) and its committees provide leadership and executive management of DAFF's performance. The EMT has the following subcommittees:

  • Change Management Committee (CMC)
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Committee
  • Legislation and Regulatory Reform Committee
  • People Management Committee
  • Investment Committee.

In July 2011, in recognition of DAFF's extensive range of large scale change programs, we created a Change Management Committee to replace the Business Improvement Committee. This committee ensures an appropriate level of control and integration of the change agenda across the department. The CMC provides advice on the appropriate commitment of resources to organisational priorities and monitors the governance arrangements across change projects and the communication of change programs to our people and our stakeholders.

The roles and responsibilities of the executive committees are set out in Tables 21 and 22.

Executive Management Team

The EMT is the key advisory body to the secretary for strategic policy, budgets and performance reporting. In October 2011, the EMT's terms of reference were amended to include the chief information officer as a member.

The EMT:

  • oversees implementation, evaluation and improvement of departmental governance structures and processes
  • promotes a culture of good governance through its own exemplary performance
  • encourages open collaboration within DAFF, between government agencies and with the broader community and citizens in developing strategic policy
  • leads and shares responsibility for increasing the department's capability.
Table 21 Executive Management Team—role and membership at 30 June 2012
Committee Role Membership

Executive Management Team

Key advisory body to the secretary

Provides advice on strategic policy, budgets and performance reporting

Convenes at least monthly (met 13 times in 2011–12)

Secretary (chair)

Deputy secretaries

Chief operating officer

Chief finance officer

Chief information officer

First assistant secretary, Government Division

First assistant secretary, People and Service Delivery Division

Two first assistant secretaries (on rotation)

The roles and responsibilities of the committees that report to the EMT are set out below.

Table 22 Executive Management Team committees—role and membership at 30 June 2012
Committee Role Membership

Change Management Committee

Provides strategic advice and recommendations on issues related to the department's change agenda

Monitors major change programs to ensure that the direction and outcomes of those programs are well integrated and consistent with the department's broader priorities and objectives

Meets monthly

Deputy secretaries (one as chair)

Chief finance officer

Chief information officer

First assistant secretary, People and Service Delivery Division

First assistant secretary, Government Division

Assistant secretary, People Management Branch

Assistant secretary, Communication Branch

One first assistant secretary (on rotation)

One external member

Information and Communication Technology Committee

Provides strategic advice to the secretary through the Executive Management Team on matters relating to strategic information and communication technology direction, performance, investment and implementation of projects

Meets monthly

Deputy secretary (chair)

Chief information officer

Chief finance officer

Four Senior Executive Service representatives

Regional manager representative

Assistant secretary, Communication Branch, as required

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service representative, as required

Legislation and Regulatory Reform Committee

Provides strategic advice on the portfolio's legislation program and priorities

Coordinates DAFF's action to implement the government's deregulation agenda

Met four times in 2011–12

Deputy secretary (chair)

First assistant secretary, Government Division

One representative from each of the following divisions:

  • Sustainable Resource Management
  • Climate Change
  • Finance and Business Support
  • Agricultural Productivity
  • Biosecurity Policy

People Management Committee

Provides strategic advice to the secretary through the Executive Management Team on human resources strategies and priorities

Monitors and reviews implementation of human resource initiatives, including DAFF's people strategy

Met five times in 2011–12

Deputy secretary (chair)

Chief operating officer

Three representatives of biosecurity divisions, including a regional representative

Five other Senior Executive Service representatives

Investment Committee

Provides strategic and tactical investment policy and advice to the secretary through the Executive Management Team

Provides advice on DAFF's capital and non-capital corporate investment policies and priorities

Met three times in 2011–12

Deputy secretaries (one as chair)

Chief finance officer

Chief information officer

First assistant secretary, People and Service Delivery Division

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee provides independent assurance and advice to the secretary on the department's risk, control and assurance framework, including its external compliance and accountability responsibilities. The committee reviews the processes in place for risk management and fraud control, internal systems and controls, financial management and reporting, legislative and policy compliance, internal and external audit activities and governance arrangements. The role of the committee is set out in Table 23.

Table 23 Audit Committee—role and membership at 30 June 2012
Committee Role Membership

Audit Committee

Provides independent assurance and advice to the secretary on the department's risk, control and assurance framework

Met six times in 2011–12

Ms Jenny Morison, independent member (chair)

Mr Will Laurie, independent member

Two deputy secretaries (one as deputy chair)

First assistant secretary, Quarantine Operations Division

First assistant secretary, Agricultural Productivity Division

The Financial Statements Subcommittee supports the Audit Committee. The role of the committee is set out in Table 24.

Table 24 Financial Statements Subcommittee—role and membership at 30 June 2012
Committee Role Membership

Financial Statements Subcommittee

Oversees the production of the financial statements. Ongoing review role to ensure:

  • a plan for preparation of the financial statements is prepared and progress is in accordance with the plan
  • issues raised by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in their financial statement audit have been appropriately addressed
  • any change in the Finance Minister's Orders or the accounting standards are appropriately actioned
  • key controls over financial processes are in place throughout the financial year
  • audit issues are highlighted in a timely manner and appropriately actioned
  • there is timely and effective communication between ANAO and relevant DAFF personnel

One member of the Audit Committee (chair)

Chief finance officer

Assistant secretary, Policy and Accounting Branch

Planning and performance management

Our annual planning and performance management cycle supports DAFF's work to achieve program objectives set out for the financial year in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), together with other identified government and departmental priorities.

At the start of the financial year, each division develops business plans that set out objectives and deliverables for the year and identifies the associated risks and performance indicators. These divisional plans are reflected in detailed planning at branch level and in the individual work plans and learning agreements required under our enterprise agreement.

For 2011–2012, all divisions reported to the EMT on risks and achievements against the PBS objectives and government priorities at two business performance reviews (in November 2011 and July 2012). We monitored our financial position through year-to-date and end-of-year financial reports and reviewed projections against budget at each EMT meeting. Individual staff performance was monitored through formal feedback discussions during the year.

DAFF's use of e-Plan, a web-based tool, has enabled us to integrate our business planning, risk and performance reporting functions onto one platform. E-Plan uses current departmental technology and guides the user in the development of business plans while automatically populating the risk assessment and reporting modules.


DAFF's annual reports are prepared according to the requirements of the Public Service Act 1999 and the 'Requirements for annual reports for departments, executive agencies and FMA Act bodies' prepared by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and approved by the parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.

Annual reports are required to be tabled in the parliament by 31 October each year. The DAFF 2010–11 annual report was presented out-of-sitting on 6 October 2011.

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee examines each annual report referred to it and reports to the Senate whether the report is 'apparently satisfactory'. The committee's report 'Annual reports (No. 1 of 2012)' was released in March 2012. The committee reported that DAFF's 2010–11 annual report complied with the reporting requirements. It found our reporting on performance was comprehensive and informative, providing assessments of actual performance in relation to targets where appropriate.

The committee noted that the department had removed the 'Summary of performance' section, included in the 2009–10 report. The committee said it had found this section to be a useful tool and encouraged the department to include this section in its next annual report. The Summar​y of​ performance section is in Part 1.

We submitted the DAFF 2010–11 annual report for assessment in the Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA) and the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) ACT Division Annual Report Awards. Our annual report received a Silver Award from the ARA. We received useful feedback from the assessment in the IPAA awards.

The annual report again features images from the annual DAFF Photo Competition. The competition is an opportunity for our staff to capture images in their day-to-day work that illustrate who we are as a department and what we do. There were six winners in 2012—five selected by a judging panel and one People's Choice winner.

A beagle detector dog looking out from a row of baggage trolleys.
'Ready!'—Benson the detector dog features in the winner of the People's Choice award in the 2012 DAFF Photo Competition
Taken by Benson's handler, Lori Morgan.

Financial management

During 2011–12, we continued to strengthen our financial management framework, with a corporate realignment of all financial functions. This realignment has consolidated arrangements and ensured consistency in methodology and approach to DAFF's financial functions.

Key efforts included the continued refinement of cost recovery arrangements in areas such as meat exports and the Levies Revenue Service, the establishment of links between internal and external budget practices, and the implementation of projects to streamline business processes and remove internal red tape. We continued to benchmark the costs of the finance function and found it to be commensurate with better practice industry indicators in Australia and worldwide. We are also working with the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) on the development and implementation of an APS-wide accounting and finance graduate/cadetship program.

With a complex departmental budget that is 65 per cent cost recovered from industry for services primarily related to biosecurity, careful attention is given to managing DAFF's cash reserves. This includes looking at where capital is allocated and how operating budgets are managed over the forward estimates. The Investment Committee has continued to improve the way in which capital funding is managed and investments are prioritised.

The department's strength in financial management has been recognised by central agencies, which have presented our practices as a model for other government agencies to follow, particularly in managing issues arising from the High Court's decision in the case of Williams v Commonwealth.

The Williams case related to section 83 of the Australian Constitution, which provides that no amount may be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund except under an appropriation made by law. We undertook a review of DAFF's exposure to the risk of not complying with section 83 when making payments. This involved identifying each special appropriation and special account and assessing the risk of non-compliance, by reviewing the difficulty of administering the statutory conditions and the extent to which existing payment systems and processes satisfy those conditions. Legal advice was sought and amendments made to a number of Acts to reduce the risk of non-compliance to an acceptable level.

As at 30 June 2012, work had been completed for all DAFF appropriations with statutory conditions for payment, representing approximately $1.2  billion in expenditure in 2011–12.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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