Go to top of page

Part three: Management and accountability

Key achievements

The Commission continued to implement its strategic priorities for 2014−15, while planning for new priorities that will be brought into effect on 1 July 2015.

During the year, the Commission:

  • planned an organisational restructure aligned with its new strategic priorities
  • launched its third Reconciliation Action Plan
  • started the process of bargaining for a new enterprise agreement for its non-SES employees
  • consolidated its financial processing and human resource systems in the Shared Services Centre.

Corporate governance framework

The Commission's outcome and anticipated use of resources are set out in its Portfolio Budget Statements for 2014−15. Actions to achieve the Commission's outcome are detailed in group business plans and individual performance agreements, which provide the framework for staff compliance and accountability.

Corporate committees

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee establishes the directions and work program of the Commission. It convenes fortnightly and comprises the Australian Public Service Commissioner, the Deputy Public Service Commissioner, group managers and the Merit Protection Commissioner. The Executive approves business plans and budgets and determines senior staffing issues.

In early 2015, the Executive Committee worked on developing a new set of strategic priorities for 2015−16. Plans were put in place to make the necessary structural adjustments to accommodate the new priority work areas. The restructure will take effect on 1 July 2015.

The Executive Committee is supported by two advisory committees in its management and accountability role.

Audit and Risk Management Committee

The Audit and Risk Management Committee is established in accordance with the Public Governance,  Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and its responsibilities are detailed in its charter. The committee met four times in 2014–15.

Workplace Relations/Health and Safety Committee

The Workplace Relations/Health and Safety Committee's membership is stipulated in the enterprise agreement and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The committee facilitates the consultation process between management and staff on workplace issues, including work health and safety. It also monitors the implementation of the Commission's enterprise agreement and assists the Commission to review and implement measures designed to protect the health and safety at work of employees and visitors.

In accordance with the Work Health and Safety Act, the committee met quarterly. Further information on work health and safety matters is provided in Appendix B.

Risk management

Risk management is integrated into the business planning activities of the Commission to support good decision-making and promote the cost-effective use of resources.

The Commission's risk management framework is reviewed each year and consists of a risk management policy and a risk assessment handbook.

The aims of the Commission's risk management policy are to:

  • develop a Commission-wide understanding of risk management
  • create an environment where all employees assume responsibility for managing risk
  • ensure that relevant risks are considered in decision-making processes
  • ensure that significant risks faced by the Commission are identified and understood
  • ensure that material risks are appropriately monitored through documented review processes and that key mitigating actions are reported to management on a regular basis.

Strategies to mitigate these risks were developed and implemented. Progress against the strategies was monitored by the Commission's Audit and Risk Management Committee.

The Commission continued to participate in Comcover's annual risk management benchmarking survey.

Commission plans

The Commission has a number of plans that support the implementation of its strategic priorities.

Workforce plan

The Commission's workforce plan guides the development and maintenance of a skilled, capable and diverse workforce that is valued and engaged. During 2014–15, the Commission conducted a demand and supply analysis of its current and future workforce needs. The analysis identified a need to ensure greater retention of the skills and experience that will be required in the future. Work on an updated workforce plan commenced in May 2015.

Fraud control plan

The Commission's fraud control plan covers the 2013−15 period and establishes a framework for detecting, reporting on and investigating fraud within the Commission. The plan also outlines ongoing fraud awareness steps to ensure that staff understand their responsibilities.

Business continuity plan

The Commission's business continuity plan details the steps to be taken in the event of a disruption to business operations. The plan's objectives are to maintain the continuity of essential services as far as is practicable and to minimise the impact of any disruption to their availability. The plan provides practical assistance and guidance to staff on how to ensure that the Commission is able to resume normal business operations following a disaster.

Compliance and accountability

Every six months, the Commission conducts a review of its compliance with the financial management and accountability framework. The results of the 2014−15 reviews confirmed that the Commission's internal control environment is operating effectively.

The Commission also has an ongoing process of reviewing its human resource policies to ensure that they are consistent with better practice and contemporary human resource management principles.

Ethical standards

The Commission supports a culture of strong commitment to the APS Values, and has mechanisms in place to ensure that the APS Values are reflected in its day-to-day work. For example:

  • The Commission's performance management framework requires employees to demonstrate their commitment to the APS Values.
  • The Commission has developed a set of leadership behaviours that apply to all senior staff.
  • The orientation and induction package for new staff includes information on the APS Values and Code of Conduct and the Commission's expectations of employees.

Internal audit

The Commission's internal audit function was undertaken by Ernst & Young.

Five audit programmes were completed:

  • implementation of the Australian Privacy Principles
  • sustainability of data management processes and systems
  • data analytics compliance check
  • benefit realisation of programmes funded under memorandums of understanding
  • compliance reporting process.

No major issues were identified and implementation of the recommendations is underway.

External scrutiny

There were no reports into the operations of the Commission by the Auditor-General, a parliamentary committee, the Commonwealth Ombudsman or the Australian Information Commissioner in 2014–15. Reports of general application are considered by the Commission's Audit and Risk Management Committee.

There were no judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals in 2014–15 that had a significant impact on the operations of the Commission.

People management

Staff profile

The Commission's workforce decreased by 8.6% in 2014–15 to 221 employees, excluding employees engaged on an irregular or intermittent basis. Ninety-one percent of the Commission's workforce is based in Canberra.

Of the Commission's workforce, 72% are women, 86% work full-time and 94% are ongoing employees. Female employees make up 87% of the part-time workforce.

Other notable staffing statistics include:

  • 3.6% of employees identify as Indigenous Australians
  • 7.7% of employees have identified themselves as having a disability
  • 1% of employees are from a non-English-speaking background.

More detailed information about the Commission's workforce is set out in Appendix C.

Succession planning

The Commission has continued to consider succession planning in light of the fact that 34% of current ongoing employees may elect to retire either now or within the next five years. Forty-five per cent of ongoing Commission employees are mature-age workers. The majority of potential retirees are at the EL classification.

Leave management

The average use of personal leave with pay, including sick, carer's and emergency leave, was 11.14 days per employee in 2014-15, which is an increase on 9.6 days per employee in 2013−14.

Workforce diversity

The Commission has a workforce diversity program, including you, that works in conjunction with its Indigenous employment strategy, creating paths. The Commission has continued to support the recruitment of Indigenous employees, people from non-English-speaking backgrounds and people with disability. For example, the Commission applies the RecruitAbility scheme to all vacancies and has nominated an SES Band 2 as the Indigenous Champion and an SES Band 3 as the Disability Champion. The Commission's commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce is manifested in its higher levels of diversity groups compared to the broader APS.

Reconciliation Action Plan

On 10 December 2014, the former Commissioner launched the Commission's third Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Share our stories. At the launch, the Commission's efforts in building relationships with Aboriginal communities and organisations in Canberra were noted. Two examples are the Commission's assistance to Bimberi Youth Justice Centre and APS participation in the Jawun Indigenous secondment programme.

RAP activities during 2015 included:

  • a cultural discussion with Aunty Matilda House, Ngambri-Ngunnuwal Elder
  • an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art workshop during National Reconciliation Week
  • donations to the Yothu Yindi foundation, which promotes Yolngu cultural development.

Workplace giving program

The Commission's workplace giving program enables staff to support their preferred charity or non-profit group through donations via the payroll system. It complements the efforts of the social club, which supports and organises one-off fundraising activities for various local charities and community organisations.

Remuneration framework

The Commission's remuneration framework and terms and conditions of employment consist of an enterprise agreement for non-SES staff and section 24(1) determinations under the Public Service Act 1999 for SES staff.

The enterprise agreement nominally expired on 30 June 2014. The Commission was negotiating a new enterprise agreement for non-SES employees at 30 June 2015.

The salary ranges for the Commission's classification levels are set out in Table 11. No performance pay provisions were in place for employees.

Table 11: Salary ranges by classification, 2012–13 to 2014–15
Classification 2012–13 ($'000) 2013–14 ($'000) 2014–15 ($'000)
APS 1–2 40–51 41–53 41–53
APS 3–4 53–63 55–65 55–65
APS 5 66–72 68−74 68−74
APS 6 75−81 77−84 77−84
EL 1 91–105 94–108 94–108
EL 2 114–139 118–132 118–132
SES 1 164–200 169–200 169–200
SES 2 212–227 218–227 218–227
SES 3 276–314 285–324 285-324

Performance management

The Commission's annual performance appraisal scheme provides a structured way for an employee and their manager to review past performance and develop a future work program. The focus of the scheme is on development and support and, where necessary, management of poor performance.

Health and wellbeing

Information about the Commission's health and wellbeing program is contained in the report on work health and safety in Appendix B.

Australia Day awards

The annual Australia Day awards acknowledge and reward exceptional contributions to the work of the Commission. They celebrate the achievements of the teams or individuals who provide high-quality service, leadership or a contribution of significant ideas, processes or knowledge. At the 2015 Australia Day awards ceremony, Shelley Markey, Marie Rowles and the panel services team received awards for their outstanding contributions to the Commission over the past year.

Information and communications technology

The Commission receives ICT infrastructure services through the Shared Services Centre.

In 2014−15, the Commission completed the migration of its human resource and financial processing systems to the Shared Services Centre. The consolidation of the two systems has simplified user account management and opened up new functionality such as the use of the Shared Services Centre e-forms system. It also enabled the in-house financial processing system to be retired.

Another significant project involved the development of a new mobile-friendly website, http://indigenouscareers.gov.au. The site brings together information on Indigenous employment in the APS.

Website enhancements

The Commission's website was enhanced with several new features that provide users with a more flexible interface. In line with usability and accessibility best practice, the modified design dynamically changes how the website is displayed for different devices such as desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. A more robust search engine delivers targeted results based on page content, keywords and document status. Redevelopment of the website will continue in 2015–16 to ensure that, as technology changes, it continues to meet the expectations of its diverse group of users.

Document and records management system

The Commission's electronic document and records management system was consolidated during the reporting period. Staff are trained in using the system as part of the induction process and, as requested, on an individual basis. This training supplements existing resources such as e-learning videos and help cards.

In May 2015, the Commission commenced a project to upgrade the system's web interface (Diem Portal) and the underlying records management system (TRIM) to the latest versions. Scheduled for implementation by August 2015, these upgrades will improve the functionality and usability of the system.

Financial performance

This section provides a summary of the Commission's financial performance during 2014−15. Further information is available in Part 4, which includes the independent auditor's report and the Commission's audited financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2015.

Departmental activities

The Commission's departmental activities involve the use of assets, liabilities, income and expenses controlled or incurred by the Commission in its own right.

2014−15 income

The Commission's total income for 2014−15 was $44.4 million. Appropriation from government accounted for 48.7%, and sales of goods and services accounted for 51.2%. Table 12 details the Commission's income since 2012−13. Table 13 details the Commission's income sources by percentage since 2012−13.

Table 12: Income, 2012−13 to 2014−15
Source 2012−13 ($ million) 2013−14 ($ million) 2014−15 ($ million)
Appropriation 23.2 22.0 21.6
Non-appropriation 29.0 26.0 22.8
Total 52.2 48.0 44.4
Table 13: Percentage of income by source, 2012−13 to 2014−15
Source 2012−13 (%) 2013−14 (%) 2014−15 (%)
Appropriation from government 44.4 45.8 48.7
Sales of goods and services 55.5 54.1 51.2
Other income (gains from sale of assets and resources received free of charge) 0.1 0.1 0.1

Appropriation funding

Appropriation funding decreased from $22.0 million in 2013−14 to $21.6 million in 2014−15, mainly due to the ongoing efficiency dividends and government-wide saving measures.

Non-appropriation income

Table 14 shows the non-appropriation income, by source, that the Commission received from sales of goods and rendering of services in 2013−14 and 2014−15. Table 15 details the percentage of non-appropriation income, by source, that the Commission received from sales of goods and services in 2013−14 and 2014−15.

Table 14: Non-appropriation income received, by source, 2013−14 and 2014−15
Source 2013−14 actual ($ million) 2014−15 estimate ($ million) 2014−15 actual ($ million)
Development programs 15.5 13.4 14.1
Employment services 2.6 2.3 2.0
International assistance 2.5 2.5 2.8
Workplace relations 1.1 1.2 1.3
Capability reviews 2.7 1.4 1.2
Better practice and evaluation 1.3 1.3 1.0
Other services 0.3 0.1 0.3
Total 26.0 22.2 22.7
Table 15: Percentage of non-appropriation income received, by source, 2013−14 and 2014−15
Source 2013−14 (%) 2014−15 (%)
Development programs 60 62
Employment services 10 9
International assistance 10 12
Workplace relations 4 6
Capability reviews 10 5
Better practice and evaluation 5 5
Other services 1 1

Income from development programs amounted to $14.1 million in 2014–15 and made up 32% of the Commission's total income from all sources. This compares to $15.5 million in 2013−14. The decrease is due to a reduction in customer demand for training and development activities. The relative share of total income remains constant as income from other sources also reduced.

The majority of this income is earned in a competitive market, where entities can choose service providers and determine the level of service required. As demand may fluctuate, the Commission has management strategies in place to ensure resources devoted in this area are in line with the revenue earned.

In 2014–15, the fourth year of the five-year funding agreements, the Commission received payments from 52 government entities to support the APS reform activities conducted by the Commission, compared to 56 government entities in 2013−14. The funding totalled $4.6 million or 33% of development program income. This compares to $4.7 million or 30% of development program income in 2013−14.

Operating result

The Commission's operating result for 2014–15 was a small surplus of $0.05 million. This compares to a deficit of $0.4 million in 2013–14. The surplus includes the effects of the government's net cash funding arrangement where depreciation and amortisation expenses are no longer funded by an appropriation. Excluding this factor, the Commission delivered an operating surplus of $1.1 million.

The Commission achieved this better-than-budgeted result through continuous prudent management of its financial resources. The Commission has also established a long-term financial outlook to accommodate any budgetary requirements in future years.

Administered activities

The Commission's administered activities involve the management or oversight by the Commission, on behalf of the government, of items controlled or incurred by the government.

The Commission's only administered program is facilitating the payment of parliamentarians' and judicial office holders' remuneration, allowances and entitlements.

The Commission receives special appropriations for the programme, and the Department of the Senate, the Department of the House of Representatives and the Attorney-General's Department make all payments.

Payments for the year amounted to $61.3 million, compared to $60.7 million in 2013−14. Payments made are reported in note 16d of the Commission's financial statements in Part 4.

Asset management

The Commission manages non-financial assets with a gross value of $7.3 million. Assets were valued at $6.9 million in 2013−14. The increase is due to investment in new ICT software and equipment during the year.

The Commission conducts annual reviews of its capital budget and plan. A four-year capital investment plan is developed from which the Commission manages its future asset purchases and disposals. All assets owned by the Commission, including any information technology assets, are subject to an annual stocktake to verify the accuracy of asset records. Assets are depreciated at rates applicable for each asset class.

Environmental management

The Commission aims to minimise the use of non-renewable resources. Ongoing initiatives include using recycled paper products for most work activities, maximising the benefits from energy-saving devices, and undertaking purchasing with energy efficiency in mind. Appendix D provides more detail on the Commission's environmental performance.

Purchasing

The Commission's purchasing is undertaken in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. Further guidance is provided to staff through the Commission's purchasing guide and accountable authority instructions.

The Commission also has a framework for managing the risks inherent in procurement activities and operational guidelines to support staff in assessing the risks associated with their projects.

The Commission published its annual procurement plan on the AusTender website to facilitate early procurement planning for 2014−15.

Consultants

The Commission engages consultancy services in circumstances when particular expertise is not available internally or when independent advice is required.

Table 16 details expenditure on consultancy contracts between 2012−13 and 2014−15. During 2014−15, the Commission entered into 38 new consultancy contracts, compared to 34 in 2013−14. The contracts involved total actual expenditure of $0.5 million for both years. Ten ongoing consultancy contracts were active during 2014−15, involving total actual expenditure of $0.5 million, compared to 17 involving expenditure of $0.4 million in 2013−14.

Information on the value of contracts and consultancies for 2014−15 is available through the AusTender website,www.tenders.gov.au.

The Commission's standard-form contracts for services and consultancies provide for access by the Auditor-General.

Table 16: Expenditure on consultancy contracts, 2012−13 to 2014−15
Year Number of new consultancies let Number of ongoing consultancy contracts that were active Total actual expenditure on new consultancy contracts ($'000) Total actual expenditure on ongoing consultancy contracts that were active ($'000) Total actual expenditure on consultancy contracts ($'000)
2012–13 42 10 870 491 1,361
2013–14 34 17 521 389 910
2014–15 38 10 460 524 984

Small business procurement

The Commission supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and medium enterprise and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance's website: www.finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts.

The Commission also recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time and ensures its obligations in this regard are met. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury's website, www.treasury.gov.au.

The Commission has adopted the following practices to support procurement from small and medium enterprises:

  • the use of the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
  • the use of payment cards for purchases of up to $10,000 to facilitate on-time payment.

Exempt contracts

The Commissioner may direct that contract details are not to be reported on the AusTender website if they would be subject to an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act 1982, and the Commissioner considers that the information is genuinely sensitive and harm is likely to be caused by its disclosure. The Commission did not issue any exemptions during 2014−15.

Grant programs

The Commission did not administer any grant programs in 2014−15.

Outlook for 2015−16

The Commission will introduce new strategic priorities in 2015−16. While building on the current set of priorities, they will acknowledge emerging themes affecting the APS in the context of a rapidly changing external environment.

To assist in aligning its business with the new priorities, the Commission will undergo a restructure which will come into effect on 1 July 2015.

Budget outlook

The Commission's departmental appropriation revenue will decrease from $21.6 million in 2014−15 to $20.6 million in 2015−16. This is mainly due to a lapsing budget measure for Indigenous employment activities as well as the efficiency dividend and various government-wide saving measures.

Departmental fee-for-service revenue is projected to be $2.1 million or 9% lower in 2015−16 than in 2014−15. The reduction is in anticipation of lower demand for the Commission's fee-for-service activities from government entities. Predicting the demand for fee-for-service activities is an ongoing challenge. Fluctuations occur due to factors beyond the Commission's control.

The Commission is managing these funding challenges to ensure it delivers a balanced financial result and is financially sustainable for future years.

Administered payments for the parliamentarians' and judicial office holders' remuneration and entitlements program are expected to increase by $1.2 million to $63.1 million for 2015−16, as a result of the regular annual review of remuneration.