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Part 2: About the department

In its self assessment for this review, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport advises that it aims to contribute to the wellbeing of all Australians by assisting government to promote, evaluate, plan and invest in infrastructure and by fostering an efficient, sustainable, competitive, safe
and secure transport system.

The department provides policy advice to the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, undertakes a number of statutory regulatory functions and delivers a variety of investment and service delivery programs on behalf of the Australian Government. In 2011–12 the
department oversaw more than $8 billion in administered programs with an operating budget of approximately $223 million.

The department aims to play a key role in:

  • planning and investing in Australia's transport infrastructure
  • promoting safe and secure transport solutions
  • providing a framework for competition between and within transport modes
  • promoting a transport system that is accessible, sustainable and environmentally responsible.

To achieve its outcomes, the department works with and through a complex network of portfolio and other Australian government agencies, state and territory governments, industry representative groups and other key stakeholders to deliver policy and program initiatives. As illustrated in Figure 2 "The
archipelago", the department's contacts touch on a range of relationships with independent organisations involved in policy development, regulation, research, service provision and investigation. Some of these organisations have been established by the Commonwealth, some are national organisations and
some are international and because of the different governance and corporate structures of each, influence needs to be exercised in different ways.

Figure 2 - The archipelago

The department employs approximately 1000 staff across six business divisions and one corporate services division:

  • Nation Building—Infrastructure Investment: responsible for the development and implementation of the Australian Government's policy, planning and funding arrangements for land transport infrastructure.
  • Surface Transport Policy: responsible for development and implementation of national reforms in surface transport policy and regulation (maritime, shipping, rail and road transport reforms).
  • Policy and Research: helps strengthen the department's strategic policy capabilities. This division includes a small policy development unit and the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) which provides economic and statistical analysis.
  • Major Cities Unit: provides advice on issues of policy, planning and infrastructure that have an impact on cities and suburbs.
  • Office of Transport Security: provides policy advice on transport security matters and has responsibility for aviation, maritime and offshore oil and gas security regulation, as well as transport security-focused programmes and services.
  • Aviation and Airports: provides policy advice as well as administers legislation and regulations relating to the aviation and airports industry.
  • Corporate Services: provides support and enabling services across the department as well as selected services to the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.

Offices are maintained across Australia and in key overseas locations, with the majority of the workforce situated in Canberra. The workforce has a reasonably even gender distribution (54% male, 46% female), but at more senior levels this ratio decreases. Staff are well educated, with 67% (2010–11)
of employees holding a bachelor's degree or higher. The separation rate of 12.05% (2011–12) is higher than the Australian Public Service (APS) average (9.0% for 2011–12). A relatively high proportion of staff (54%) indicated in the State of the Service Survey 2010–11 that they intended
to seek employment elsewhere in the next two years.

The department has undergone a number of significant transformations following machinery of government changes in the last five years. This includes a major shift in focus brought about by gaining responsibility for infrastructure policy and programs and losing responsibility for territories and natural
disasters in 2007, as well as handing over responsibility for local government and regional development in 2010 to the new Regional Australia portfolio.