Corporate governance

Corporate governance mechanisms

The department's operations are governed by the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and are subject to provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and other legislation.

At the strategic level, two groups under the supervision of the Clerk's Office—the Program Managers' Group and the Audit and Evaluation Committee—are responsible for implementing and monitoring corporate governance principles. The Senior Management Advisory Group (SMAG) assists the Program Managers' Group.

The Workplace Consultative Committee is the principal forum for formal consultations with staff and union representatives on workplace relations matters.

The role and membership of each group are described in Figure 18.

Figure 18 Management and advisory groups
Group Role Members Chair
Program Managers' Group Coordinate corporate governance matters, including:
  • workplace relations
  • terms and conditions of employment
  • performance management
  • human resource management policies
  • staff training and development
  • financial planning
  • departmental service quality.
The department's three Clerks Assistant and the Usher of the Black Rod. The Usher of the Black Rod.
Audit and Evaluation Committee Ensure that departmental operations and expenditures meet external audit standards in relation to best practice financial management and reporting, fraud control and business risk monitoring.

Develop and supervise the annual internal audit program.

Program managers, the Chief Finance Officer (as an observer) and an independent member; also observed by representatives from the Australian National Audit Office and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (internal auditor). The Deputy Clerk.
Senate Management Advisory Group Provide advice to program managers on departmental and managerial issues. All Senate Parliamentary Executive Level 2 staff. Chosen annually by the group.
Workplace Consultative Committee Serve as the principal forum for formal consultations with staff and union representatives on workplace relations matters, including negotiation of workplace agreements. The Usher of the Black Rod, a Clerk Assistant and up to 10 elected staff representatives and union representatives. The Usher of the Black Rod.

In addition, the department participated in interdepartmental committees consisting of all the parliamentary departments to coordinate corporate and other Parliament House–wide matters.

Program Managers' Group

The Program Managers' Group examined a range of corporate governance and other departmental management matters in 2007–08, including:

  • business continuity plans
  • implementation of the objectives of the department's employee collective agreement
  • workforce planning
  • staff selection processes
  • staff training
  • intellectual property
  • business risk management.

Audit and Evaluation Committee

The primary objectives of the Audit and Evaluation Committee are to oversee:

  • audits (both internal and external)
  • the department's controls (administrative, operating and accounting)
  • risk management (planning and implementation).

The committee met on four occasions and, among other things, endorsed the department's:

  • risk management plan 2007–09
  • fraud control plan 2008–10
  • financial statements 2006–07
  • strategic internal audit plan 2007–10
  • certificate of compliance 2006–07.

Risk management, fraud control and the certificate of compliance are standing items on the committee's agenda and were, therefore, considered progressively throughout the year.

During the reporting period, the department tendered for the provision of internal audit services. The contract with the successful tenderer, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, was signed on 24 September 2007.

Due to the tendering process, there was a slightly reduced audit program. The following internal audit reports were undertaken and considered:

  • mobile phones (August 2007)
  • certificate of compliance process (February 2008)
  • administration of seminars (April 2008)
  • information technology governance (June 2008).

While the audits made a number of recommendations aimed at meeting ‘better practice' standards, no serious problems were identified. The committee monitors implementation of the recommendations.

The committee provides an annual report of its activities to the Clerk and to the Senate Appropriations and Staffing Committee.

Senate Management Advisory Group

In 2007–08, SMAG met on nine occasions to discuss departmental proposals, policy initiatives and changes, and to advise the Program Managers' Group on leadership and managerial matters.

SMAG undertook a range of activities, including:

  • a review of the Staff Numbers Management Policy
  • discussion of new reporting requirements for implementing the employee collective agreement
  • a continuation of its leadership and management discussion program, which included
    • a presentation by the Clerk of the Senate, addressing issues of leadership, evolution of the department over his 20 years as Clerk, and future challenges
    • a briefing by the Australian Public Service Commission on its Integrated Leadership System
    • a briefing by the Australian National Audit Office on its approach to performance audits
    • a discussion on the attributes of a good parliamentary officer.

Workplace Consultative Committee

During 2007–08, the committee met on four occasions to consult on policies and issues that affect staff in the workplace and to monitor implementation of the Senate Employee Collective Agreement 2006–2010 (the ECA), which came into effect in July 2006.

The committee considered, and provided advice and recommendations on:

  • revisions to the guidelines on the Performance Communication Scheme
  • revisions to the procedures for determining breaches of the Code of Conduct
  • revisions to the procedures for dealing with whistleblower reports
  • revisions to the policy on workplace harassment
  • revisions to the discretionary leave guidelines
  • the annual report on the implementation of the ECA
  • new Health and Safety Management Arrangements
  • a review of the meal allowance rate.

In response to requests from staff representatives, the committee formed a standing working group to consider and advise on a range of travel issues.