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Machinery of Government changes: A guide

Key message

It is good practice for agencies to start planning as early as possible.

As soon as it becomes clear that a MoG change will occur, affected agencies are expected to:

  • consider the appointment of an independent third party to facilitate the process
  • establish a cross-agency steering committee to oversee implementation
  • prepare for an immediate and thorough due diligence exercise, and
  • develop a communications strategy to keep staff informed

The extent of these actions will depend on the size and complexity of the MoG change.

1. Agencies are expected to implement change in a way that is consistent with the principles outlined in the Executive Summary.

Independent facilitator

2. An independent facilitator should be appointed by affected agencies to manage the MoG process in circumstances where

  • the MoG change is sensitive or complex
  • the MoG change involves the closure of an entity
  • the affected entities are having difficulty in resolving issues

3. An independent facilitator must be appointed in circumstances where critical milestones are not being met. Once a MoG change is announced, critical milestones will be established.

4. The independent facilitator's role is to manage the process of information exchange between the losing and gaining agencies. This can involve:

  • managing a detailed examination of all aspects of the function being transferred, including assets and liabilities and statutory, contractual and other arrangements, to identify any issues which may need to be addressed – see also Planning and Due Diligence.
  • assisting the losing and gaining agencies to resolve outstanding issues

5. Finance can provide affected agencies with a list of independent facilitators.

Steering Committee

6. Good practice supports the creation of a Steering Committee to oversee implementation. Such a Committee would operate with:

  • representatives from all affected agencies—managers from corporate or enabling services as well as programs
  • clear lines of responsibilities for individuals and groups
  • governance mechanisms and protocols for recording key decisions
  • regular reporting to the executives of all affected agencies.

7. The Steering Committee may be assisted by smaller working groups.

Due diligence

8. Losing agencies are as soon as possible to provide gaining agencies with the following information:

  • Information gathered from due diligence checks
  • Timely and accurate information

9. Due diligence requires a detailed examination of all aspects of the function being transferred. Issues to be addressed include:

  • the statutory basis of programs and functions
  • The Australian Government Organisations Register (AGOR), to assist in identifying secondary and related bodies (committees, advisory and expert panels, boards, statutory por branded functions etc. ) that may be required to be moved
  • funding agreements, partnerships, joint ventures, taxation issues
  • delegations and authorities
  • assets and liabilities, intellectual property
  • records and information management
  • contractual arrangements for property, equipment and goods and services
  • outstanding legal action and freedom of information (FOI) requests
  • unfinished audits

Dispute process

10. Finance will mediate if agencies are unable to reach agreement on financial matters within the established timeframe. The mediation process involves:

  • The parties providing Finance with information supporting their respective positions.
  • The parties meeting jointly with Finance to discuss outstanding issues.
  • Finance working with the parties to reach agreement–after conducting an analysis of the parties' information and following discussions Finance may support one of the positions or provide a third position agreement.

11. The APSC will mediate on staffing matters if agreement cannot be reached within established timeframes.

Communication strategy

12. Section 47 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requires that a business consults— so far as is reasonably practicable— with workers who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by health and safety matters.

13. During a MoG change, agencies are encouraged to conduct ongoing communication and consultation with workers about their transition to new work arrangements. It is important to communicate with affected staff early in the process to explain:

  • why–the reasons and objectives for change
  • what–the impact of change
  • what next–the timetable for specific activity relating to the change.

14. The Steering Committee may decide to establish a Communications Manager in each affected agency.