Selected agencies and reports
The committee has selected the following departments and agencies for
Department of Finance and Deregulation;
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet;
Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local
Australian National Audit Office.
Department of Finance and
The Department of Finance and Deregulation's (Finance's) annual report
provides a detailed and well set out review of the Finance's operations during
the 2010–11 financial period. The report highlights Finance's role in the
development of the 2011–12 federal budget, the extended caretaker period
following the 2010 federal election and in the government's response to severe
flooding in eastern Australia and Cyclone Yasi.
In addition, the report provides detailed information on Finance's work
toward regulatory reform of government through Better Regulation Ministerial
Partnerships; changes to the Australian Government's best practice regulation
and its work toward a whole-of-government ICT system to improve public sector
There were two changes to the Finance portfolio during the 2010–11
reporting period. Under the Administrative Arrangements Order of 14 September
2010, responsibility for the ownership and management of the Prime Minister's
official residences was transferred to Finance from the Department of the Prime
Minister and Cabinet.
On 1 July 2011, the Governance of Australian Government Superannuation
Scheme Act 2011 came into effect consolidating the Australian Reward Investment
Alliance, the Military Superannuation and Benefits Board and the Defence Force
Retirement and Death Benefits Authority into the Commonwealth Superannuation
There were a number changes to the organisational structure of Finance
in the 2010–11 financial year. A Chief Operating Officer Group (COO Group) was
created on 1 July 2010 following the organisation restructure in the 2009–10
financial year. The COO Group is responsible for the management of all of
Finance's corporate activities. The creation of an Implementation and
Performance Improvement Division within the Financial Management Group was
announced on 25 May 2011 and took effect on 4 July 2011.
Following the 2010 Federal Election the following Ministerial
appointments were made within the Finance portfolio:
Senator the Hon Penny Wong was appointed Minister for Finance and
The Hon Gary Gray AO MP was appointed Special Minister of State;
Senator the Hon Nick Sherry was appointed Minister Assisting the
Finance Minister on Deregulation (14 September 2010) and Minister Assisting the
Finance Minister on Public Sector Superannuation (26 January 2011).
Transparency and Scrutiny
Finance discussed its continuing work towards better regulation of
government, in particular, the Better Regulation Ministerial Partnerships
program. In 2010–11, Finance completed three partnerships with the Assistant
Treasurer and the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minster for Defence and the
Attorney-General and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Finance continued to take a lead role in the response to the
Government's Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the reform of the Australian
Government administration and is responsible for implementing three key
including the introduction of Model Chief Executive's Instructions (CEIs) and a
CEI Working Group consisting of representatives from all portfolios.
Similar to the previous financial year, the Finance's review of
performance for the 2010–11 period was broken into individual chapters. The
structure of information in each outcome includes an overview of highlights
within the outcome, followed by tables containing information on deliverables
and Key Performance Indicators (KPI's). The flow of information gives the
reader a broad narrative understanding of the work undertaken in each outcome
while still providing specific performance information that is easily
comparable to the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS).
Finance continued to provide explanatory comments in relation to KPI's
outlining how each KPI was achieved and where necessary, what further work is
being done by the department where it is indicated KPI's have not been
achieved. The committee found the inclusion of qualitative and quantitative
comments useful in identifying the reasons behind failure to fully achieve
In response to the committee's first report on annual reports for 2011,
Finance has included specific page numbers within its compliance index.
The committee believes the inclusion of specific page numbers to be important
as it allows for easy identification of mandatory information throughout the
In relation to external scrutiny, the committee notes the work by Finance,
alongside the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), to draw attention to
agencies at risk of breaches to section 83 of the Constitution. This work has
specifically focused on conditions required by law before making payments from
special appropriations and special accounts. The committee notes that Finance
is continuing to work with the ANAO and various agencies to develop a solution
to this matter.
In addition to its work with ANAO, there were six ANAO reports relating
to Finance. The department's annual report outlines the details and findings of
each report and explains Finance's responses. The department also provided an
overview of substantial legal actions involving Finance providing detailed
updates on each legal action since the previous annual report.
The committee considers that Finance's Annual Report for the 2010–11
financial year complies with all reporting requirements and provides a clear
overview of the department's structure and operations.
Department of the Prime Minister
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) annual
report for 2010–11 provides a clear overview of PM&C's performance during
the financial year. The report highlights the department's work during the
extended caretaker period following the 2010 federal election and its
involvement in producing a carbon pricing package.
In 2010–11, the department was deeply involved in the Government's
response to the various national disasters that occurred during 2011, including
widespread flooding and Cyclone Yasi. In addition PM&C, through the Office
for Sport, worked with various sporting codes towards the implementation of
anti-match fixing policies.
The department was also involved in the development of the National Health
Reform Agreement and played an important role during the caretaker period
providing advice to both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
As was noted in the committee's first report of 2011 (March 2011),
responsibility for the Offices of Arts and Sport were transferred to the Prime
Minister and Cabinet Portfolio following the changes to the Administrative
Arrangements Orders on 14 September 2010. The Department of Regional Australia,
Regional Development and Local Government was also established within the
PM&C portfolio at this time. The 2010–11 annual report for the Department
of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government is examined
An effective graphic illustrating the various changes to the PM&C
portfolio is provided in the report which outlines transfers of specific
responsibilities either to, or from, the PM&C portfolio.
The use of a graphic was helpful in providing a clear, concise explanation of
the changes and assisted the committee in its examination of the report.
Transparency and scrutiny
PM&C provides a thorough overview of the various outcomes and
programs which assists the reader to gain a clear understanding of the vast
policy coverage of the department. The report provides a broad outlines of each
sub program within the department's four programs—Prime Minister and Cabinet,
Official and ceremonial support, Arts and cultural development and Sport and
As in previous years' annual reports, each sub program represents an
individual chapter of the report. Each chapter provides a narrative overview of
the highlights and performance of the department and includes coloured tables
containing specific information relating to performance against KPIs. This is
useful as it provides readers with relevant background information on each area
of PM&C while also enabling easy identification of the relevant KPIs for
each sub program.
As was noted by the committee in previous reports on annual reports,
the department continued to include the qualitative indicator 'high level of
The committee notes that, in contrast to previous years, PM&C has included
some quantitative percentage targets within its KPIs, for example, the report
states that 112 projects were administered through the Indigenous Sport and
Recreation program, noting that the KPI target was 90.
The committee commends the department for the inclusion of this information and
encourages PM&C to continue to provide quantitative data in future annual
reports where appropriate.
In relation to external scrutiny, the committee notes that PM&C was
involved in one ANAO audit which examined the protection and security of
electronic information held by Australian Government agencies. The report
provides a detailed overview of the background of the audit and the ANAO's
findings. The committee notes that while the report states that the ANAO report
made four recommendations which were agreed to by PM&C, the department has
not included information on what, if any, work has been done to implement those
recommendations. The committee encourages PM&C to include this type of
information in future annual reports.
PM&C provides an extensive breakdown of staffing statistics and a
detailed overview of staff development and training initiatives. In addition
the report also offers a thorough overview of the Freedom of Information
documents held by the departments and processes for lodging an FOI request.
The committee believes that the PM&C annual report meets all
reporting requirements and provides a clear and informative overview of the
operations of the department, in particular the various portfolio changes which
occurred during the 2010–11 financial year.
Department of Regional Australia,
Regional Development and Local Government
The Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local
Government's (DRARDLG's) first annual report provides a comprehensive review of
the departments operations since its establishment following the 2010 federal
Significant issues for DRARDLG during the financial year included the
establishment of the department, involving the creation and implementation of a
strategic plan and enterprise agreement. The report also highlights the
department's focus on strengthening the Regional Development Australia (RDA)
Network and RDA Committees.
Another initiative during the period was the establishment and support
of the Natural Disaster Recovery Taskforce within the department in response to
the damage caused by Cyclone Yasi and flooding across eastern Australia during
2011. During this period the department worked closely with PM&C and
Finance to coordinate the Government's response in each affected area.
As noted in chapter one, during the 2010–11 financial year DRARDLG was a
department of state within the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio. Following
the Administrative Arrangements Order of 14 December 2011, DRARDLG took on
responsibility for the Arts and Sport becoming the Regional Australia, Local
Government, Arts and Sport portfolio (Regional portfolio). The subsequent
change to the Senate continuing order relating to the allocation of departments
and agencies to Senate committees on 8 February 2012 resulted in oversight of
the Regional portfolio moving to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional
Affairs and Transport (RRAT Committee). Future annual reports produced by the
department and all portfolio agencies will be examined by the RRAT Committee.
Transparency and scrutiny
The department's report is broken into six coloured parts: overview;
performance report; management and accountability; financial statements;
appendices and glossary and indexes. These parts are then broken into
individual chapters. This separation combined with the colour coded parts makes
finding and identifying specific information easy for readers.
The report on performance is broken down into chapters by outcome and
provides a narrative overview of the department's performance followed by
specific detail in relation to KPI's, allowing for easy comparison to the PBS.
Highlights for each program provide an easy to read review of operations for
the financial year. Each outcome is drawn together with a projected outlook for
the future which consolidates the review of performance together nicely,
providing a logical progression of information for readers. The outlook for the
future also balances the lack of trend information available for a newly
In relation to KPI's, the department identified five KPI's that were
'substantially achieved' and provided comments explaining what progress has
been made toward fully achieving each KPI.
The report includes substantial and detailed information on procurement
and consultancies. The combination of narrative information with specific
detail in a table format provides a high level of information without
overwhelming the reader.
The committee notes that three ANAO reports related to the work of the
Performance Audit Report No. 03 2010–11 The Establishment,
Implementation and Administration of the Strategic Projects Component of the
Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program;
Performance Audit Report No. 24 2010–11, The Design and
Administration of the Better Regions Program; and
Performance Audit Report No. 42 2010–11, The Establishment, Implementation
and Administration of the Council Allocation Component of the Regional and
Local Community Infrastructure Program.
DRARDLG provided an outline of the findings of each report and has
agreed to, and is working toward, implementing all recommendations in future
In relation to judicial proceedings, the department reported that
employees provided evidence to the coronial inquest into the Christmas Island
boat tragedy of the SIEV 221 that occurred on 15 December 2010. At the time the
annual report was printed, the inquest was ongoing.
The committee considers that DRARDLG's annual report satisfies all
reporting requirements and commends the department on its first annual report.
Australian National Audit Office
The committee has decided to briefly comment on the Australian National
Audit Office (ANAO) annual report as 2011 marked 110 years since the creation
of the Office of the Auditor-General. The ANAO is a statutory authority and is
required to report under its enabling legislation, the Auditor-General Act
1997, and to comply with the PM&C reporting requirements.
The committee notes that in the 2010–11 financial year the ANAO produced
54 performance audit reports, including two major reports into the Green Loans
Program and the Home Insulation Program.
The ANAO report offers a clear and detailed overview of operations which
free of jargon and does not overwhelm the reader. The report is split into six
parts making information easily accessible to the reader. The report on
performance is well set out and allows for easy comparison to the PBS. The
inclusion of a 'Highlights' and 'Area of focus' section at the front provides a
snap shot of the information contained within the report.
In relation to transparency and accountability, the ANAO provides a well
set out report and offers detailed information on both external and internal
audits conducted during the year, including the annual Australasian Council of
Auditor-Generals Macro Benchmarking Project.
In relation to other requirements, the report contains comprehensive
information on staffing statistics and provides detailed overviews of staff
education and training, including secondments, graduate and undergraduate programs
and study assistance.
Financial Management and Accountability
Act 1997 requirements
Agencies and departments subject to the Financial Management and
Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) are required to produce an annual report in
accordance with the Requirements for Annual Reports: Departments, Executive Agencies
and FMA Act Bodies (PM&C requirements) which are reviewed annually and
issued by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and approved by the
Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.
For the 2010–11 financial reporting period there were three significant
amendments to the PM&C requirements pertaining to reporting on the
Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS), social inclusion measures and Freedom
Commonwealth Disability Strategy
The committee notes that the requirement for annual reports to include
information on the implementation of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy has
been discontinued as disability reporting now occurs within four different
reporting mechanisms: National Disability Strategy (NDS) reporting to COAG; the
State of the Service Report prepared by the Australian Public Service
Commission (APSC); the How Australia is Fairing report; and within departmental
annual reporting under the social inclusion agenda.
Departments and agencies were required to include an 'explicit and
transparent reference to other disability reporting mechanisms specifically
noting where agency level information can be found'.
The PM&C requirements provide suggested wording to satisfy the new
disability reporting requirement which was widely utilised by departments and
agencies. Some agencies continued to include information on disability
while others included some disability strategy reporting within the social
inclusion section of their annual report.
The committee notes that some agencies, such as the National Archives of
Australia, while offering some information on disability strategies within
their report appear not to provide explicit references to external disability
reporting mechanisms, which is mandatory under the PM&C requirements.
The committee encourages agencies who continue to report on disability
strategies within their annual report to provide details of external reporting
mechanisms to satisfy this requirement.
Annual reports for departments whose activities impact on social
inclusion outcomes must provide information in their annual report about
'relevant programs and progress in relation to social inclusion strategic
While most agencies included some form of social inclusion information
within their annual report, the format and type of information included varied
greatly. The committee feels that the broad description of the reporting
requirement offered in the PM&C requirements makes it difficult to assess
whether an agency has fully satisfied the requirement.
The PM&C requirements state that further information can be found on
the social inclusion website.
While the website provides information on the social inclusion board and a
broad list of departments who administer social inclusion policies and
initiatives, there does not appear to be a complete list of departments and
agencies that are required to include information on social inclusion programs
in their annual reports. Instead, enquires regarding the application of this
requirement to specific agencies are directed to a contact email.
The committee believes that a complete list of departments and agencies, where
the social inclusion reporting requirement is applicable, should be placed on
the social inclusion website to ensure that all applicable annual reports include
the required information.
The committee recommends that a list of all departments and agencies
required to report on social exclusion outcomes should be published on the social
Freedom of Information
Recent reforms to Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation resulted in
the establishment and commencement of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS)
on 1 May 2011. The committee notes that the IPS replaced the previous annual
reporting requirement under section 8 of the FOI Act. The IPS requires agencies
to publish information on a website covering 10 categories, including, but not
limited to, the agencies structure, functions and statutory appointments.
For the 2010–11 financial year, agencies were required to include a
section 8 statement covering the period 1 July 2010 to 30 April 2011 and a
statement outlining the changed reporting requirements under the IPS. An
example of wording for this statement was provided and was utilised by the
majority of FMA Act agencies.
Most annual reports included the sample wording provided within the
PM&C requirements and provided detailed information on the types of
documents held by the department or agency and the process for lodging a FOI
request. The committee acknowledges the substantial detail offered by the
Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government,
including information on the timeliness of resolutions.
Use of compliance index by CAC Act
As was noted in the committee's first report for 2011, the committee
found the use of a compliance index in relation to the Commonwealth Authorities
and Companies (Report of Operations) Orders 2008 by CAC Act bodies useful in
assessing agencies annual reports. The committee notes that a number of CAC Act
bodies, including the National Film and Sound Archives, National Gallery of
Australia and the National Museum of Australia, included compliance indexes in
their 2010–11 annual reports and encourages other agencies to adopt this
approach in future annual reports.
Senator Helen Polley
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