Online version of the 2012-13 Department of Health and Ageing Annual Report

3.1: Corporate Governance

Page last updated: 29 October 2013

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

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

This is an image of a flow chart that shows the structure of high level committees. The Secretary on the top row is linked to the Executive Committee and Audit Committee on the second row. The Executive Committee is linked to the Policy Advisory Group, Finance Risk and Security Committee, People Committee Information Knowledge and Technology Committee on the Third Row.

Executive Committee

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

In 2012-13, the committee considered:

  • key risks and mitigation strategies;
  • strategies to reduce costs, staffing and workloads in line with budgets;
  • high impact immediate and emerging issues;
  • people management issues;
  • expenditure proposals involving major investment; and
  • recommendations from other governance and decision-making committees in the Department.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee comprises three independent external members, one of whom is the Chair, and five departmental members. Representatives from the Australian National Audit Office also attend Committee meetings. The Committee met eight times during 2012-13 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 regarding their signing.

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

Policy Advisory Group

The Policy Advisory Group was established in June 2012 to provide strategic oversight and advice to the Executive Committee on the development and implementation of major health and ageing policy reform.

The Group provides a central mechanism within the Department to respond to health and ageing policy challenges and complexities. It aims to improve linkages between policy design and program delivery to maintain the Department’s strategic directions and resourcing capability.

The Group is chaired by a Deputy Secretary, with 13 other members at both the Deputy Secretary and First Assistant Secretary level. First Assistant Secretaries 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, the implementation of Medicare Locals, eHealth, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Finance, Risk and Security Committee

The Finance, Risk and Security Committee provides advice and makes recommendations to the Executive Committee on financial and risk management, and strategic security management policies, initiatives and reviews. In 2012-13, oversight of the Department’s Work Health and Safety framework was added to the Committee’s responsibilities.

The Committee is chaired by a Deputy Secretary with 10 members representing key areas of the Department. The Committee meets at least once a quarter. The Committee met on four occasions in 2012-13.

Key activities considered by the Committee in 2012-13 included:

  • a review of strategic risk mitigations consistent with the Department’s endorsed Risk Management Framework;
  • progressing implementation of the Risk Management Improvement Roadmap;
  • a review of the Department’s framework for managing work health and safety;
  • endorsement of a new business planning process and monitoring of the progress of a Budgeting and Forecasting Improvement project;
  • consideration of key departmental financial issues impacting business unit allocations including further departmental savings announced by government;
  • consideration of the status of departmental capital projects and associated appropriation funding; and
  • endorsement of updates on strategic security policy, framework improvements and testing programs including those associated with the Business Continuity Plan and the Disaster Recovery Plan.
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People Committee

The Department’s People Committee oversees implementation of activities identified in the Department’s People Strategy 2010–2015 and action plans. This includes attraction, retention, capability building, motivation and measurement. The People Committee also provides advice and recommendations to the Executive Committee on strategic people management issues.

The Committee is chaired by the Deputy Secretary responsible for corporate affairs and is comprised of seven Senior Executive Service and six APS/Executive Level staff. The Committee includes representation from state and territory offices, diversity groups, the graduate program and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The Executive Committee determines the members of the People Committee annually. Other attendees may be invited to participate or observe in meetings of the Committee as required.

In 2012-13, the Committee met four times. It considered items including progress against the Department’s Disability Workforce Action Plan 2011–2013, implementation of the Department’s Workforce Diversity Plan 2013–2016, implementation of the Departmental Activity Survey, ongoing management of the department-wide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Awareness training and a new Middle Manager Development Program.

Information, Knowledge and Technology Committee

The Information, Knowledge and Technology Committee is chaired by the Deputy Secretary, Chief Information and Knowledge Officer 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 is responsible for development of the IT Strategy and the methodology for prioritising IT work within the Department, and subsequently the overall annual IT work-plan.

Matters that are considered by this committee include: the Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) Policy, Principles, Strategy, Procedures, Standards and necessary technology support; alignment of IKM delivery with agreed priorities and whole-of-government directions and standards; and setting and delivery of the IT Strategy and the overall IT delivery work-plan.

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

The Data Governance Council is a sub-committee of the Information, Knowledge and Technology Committee and is chaired by the Deputy Secretary, Chief Information and Knowledge Officer. The Committee makes policy recommendations on data governance issues and implements data management strategies to support the Department’s policy position. The Council was established in May 2012 and meets bi-monthly.

Internal Audit Arrangements

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

Audit and Fraud Control

Audit and Fraud Control Branch conducts audits and investigations and provides independent advice and assistance to the Department’s senior management. Audit and Fraud Control Branch also provides fraud prevention and investigation services to the Department.

In 2012-13, Audit and Fraud Control Branch conducted a range of audits and reviews in line with the Audit Work Plan approved by the Audit Committee. The Audit Work Plan encompasses compliance with departmental control frameworks, grants and contract management, IT management, and departmental expenditure and procurement activities.

Fraud Minimisation Strategies

During 2012-13, the Department continued its program of fraud awareness training to staff and introduced a new rolling program for the identification of fraud risks to be incorporated in the next fraud control plan.

The Department received 45 allegations of fraud during 2012-13, with some of these progressing to further assessment and investigation. The Department also referred a number of matters to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions or to departmental officers with powers authorised under the Public Service Act 1999.

Risk Management

The Department’s objective for effective risk management is to integrate its risk management practice with broader management processes and improvements.

The Department has in place a comprehensive Risk Management Framework (Framework) and associated procedures for effective identification and management of the Department’s business and financial risks.

The Framework provides the foundation and organisational arrangements for implementing, monitoring, reviewing and continually improving risk management throughout the organisation. 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.

During 2012-13, the Department’s Enterprise Risk Management Plan and Strategic Risk Assessment were regularly discussed and reviewed with the Executive. This plan is a key component of the Framework and supports the fundamental alignment and integration of risk management across all levels of the Department.

Risk management plans have been developed for all major projects or undertakings.

The Department has updated Charter requirements to strengthen the relationship between the Audit Committee and the Finance Risk and Security Committee to ensure both committees are aligned to meet requirements of FMAR22C (4)(b).

The Department’s 2013 results in the Comcover Benchmarking Survey demonstrate the considerable progress made in embedding the Risk Management Program. The Department’s results are above the average for participating agencies.

Certification of Departmental Fraud Control Arrangements

I, Jane Halton, 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.

Professor Jane Halton PSM

The image is of Professor Jane Halton’s signature on the Certification of Departmental Fraud Control Arrangements
October 2013

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