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  Chapter Title - Corporate Goverance
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INTRODUCTION

Corporate governance in DOFA focuses on providing a streamlined decision making framework that encourages responsiveness to government, while ensuring the sustainability and accountability of the organisation.

Four core organisational values underpin DOFA's corporate governance framework:

  • our Ministers are our customers - they are always our first priority and we aim to exceed their expectations in the services that we provide
  • performance driven - we are motivated by a desire to excel - we aim to be the best in our field of providing advice and services to Ministers
  • responsive, adaptable and open to change - we are prepared to innovate, create and challenge the status quo
  • absolute integrity and the highest ethical standards - we are open and honest in our dealings with one another. We do not cut corners on ethics or compromise our integrity.

The provisions of the Public Service Act 1999, passed in December, further reinforce these values. The new Act devolves responsibility to Agency Heads for employment decisions. This devolution allows Agency Heads greater flexibility and authority in managing their workplaces. The Act has a clearly defined values base for the Australian Public Service, which enhances the accountability for using these powers.

Senior Management
Since its creation in 1997, DOFA's management framework has evolved to achieve DOFA's goal of becoming a high performance organisation. Some original management initiatives remain, such as Management Board, while others were modified to meet the changing environment and DOFA's new priorities.

The Management Board is DOFA's peak decision-making body. The board is responsible for establishing strategic directions and managing DOFA's overall performance. It meets weekly and also holds an off-site meeting each quarter to discuss longer term strategic issues. The Departmental Secretary, Peter Boxall, chairs the board.

The Remuneration Committee has operated since August 1999. The committee reviews new Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) and variations to agreements (including the Certified Agreement and Australian Workplace Agreements). It also considers other remuneration and employment framework issues, such as superannuation. The committee is proving an effective instrument for implementing new approaches to remuneration and employment. The Departmental Secretary chairs this committee, which includes the General Manager, Corporate and the Chief Financial Officer as ex-officio members.

The Audit Committee reviews, monitors and recommends improvements to internal control and financial reporting processes. It also oversees DOFA's internal and external audit processes. The committee provides independent advice to the Secretary and Management Board on matters pertaining to DOFA's accountability and financial responsibility. During 1999-2000, the Audit Committee considered and endorsed 180 probity reviews performed on contracting activities conducted by DOFA. Philip Prior, First Assistant Secretary, Budget Group, chairs this committee.

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Members of these committees (as at 30 June 2000) were:

Management Board

  • Peter Boxall (Chair)
  • Stephen Bartos
  • Phil Bowen
  • Alistair Cochrane
  • Roger Fisher
  • Alastair Hodgson
  • Jenny Morawska-Ahearn
  • Diana Wright

Remuneration Committee

  • Peter Boxall (Chair)
  • Stephen Bartos
  • Alistair Cochrane (Chief Financial Officer)
  • Jenny Morawska-Ahearn (General Manager, Corporate)

Audit Committee

  • Phillip Prior (Chair)
  • Phil Bowen
  • Alistair Cochrane
  • Jim Kropp (independent member)
  • John Nicholson.

DOFA also has two reference committees, Knowledge Management and Human Resources. Jenny Morawska-Ahearn, General Manager of the Corporate Group chaired both committees in 1999-2000. However, from 1 July 2000, Chair of the Knowledge Management Committee will transfer to the occupant of the newly created role of General Manager, e-Solutions Group, Dr Diana Wright. Jenny Morawska-Ahearn will continue to chair the Human Resources Committee.

Highlights for 1999-2000
The main activities during the year included preparation for the New Tax System, implementation of a new audit system and ensuring Y2K compliance.

  • Adopting the theme, 'Getting Fit for GST', DOFA initiated a number of educational and operational measures to ensure it was well prepared for this important government reform. DOFA provided broad awareness training for staff, as well as specific training on elements of the New Tax System. DOFA also posted GST information for staff on its Intranet
  • DOFA implemented a new internal audit structure involving outsourcing the internal audit management function to a third party provider and developing a risk based internal audit plan. During 1999-2000, DOFA undertook 19 planned reviews and ten ad hoc reviews in budget development, contract management, devolved banking and GST preparedness
  • To ensure Y2K compliance, DOFA established a steering committee chaired by the Secretary. DOFA achieved 100 per cent Y2K compliance for all of its business critical systems by 30 September 1999. Property Group undertook Y2K remediation tasks on government owned assets both in Australia and overseas. The group based its work on the compliance audit it conducted from February 1998 to June 1999, and used remediation tasks to bring properties to the agreed standard for Y2K compliance. It completed all these remediation tasks by early December 1999, and consequently, no incidents occurred during the Y2K roll over period.

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Business Planning and Performance Reporting
DOFA's business planning and performance reporting is a key component of its ability to deliver for its customers. Each business group prepares a business plan at the beginning of the financial year to outline the strategies it will use to achieve desired outcomes and goals. Business Groups encourage staff to provide input to the plans during the drafting process. The plans then are discussed and finalised at Management Board and made available to staff on DOFA's Intranet.

DOFA uses its database and performance monitoring facility, DOFA Vista, available on staff PCs, to provide regular feedback to all staff on DOFA's performance against key business drivers.

DOFA Vista reports on those aspects of performance critical to DOFA's success:

  • responsiveness to Ministers
  • Ministerial satisfaction on quality and briefings
  • staff performance ratings
  • financial outcomes.

During the year, Corporate Group undertook the redevelopment of DOFA Vista. The new version, DOFA Vista2, launched early in 2000-01, reports on a monthly basis and automatically appears on staff PC screens on the tenth day of each month.

DOFA's business planning also requires external service providers to produce annual business plans to match DOFA's business requirements. The production of these plans ensures alignment between service provider activity and DOFA's outcomes and outputs, and makes apparent new initiatives and any service enhancements that annual review processes highlight as necessary.

Risk Management
DOFA recognises that risk management is a corporate and individual responsibility. Anticipation of risks and subsequent management increases DOFA's ability to provide accurate and timely advice. To strengthen its risk management capability, DOFA established a Risk Management Coordination Branch in late 1999.

DOFA recognises investment in, and commitment to, managing risks is a continuous process. To properly examine and take into account the element of risk in its planning, DOFA has developed guidelines on risk management, Take an Active Role in Risk Management - How to Better Manage Risks in DOFA. The guidelines are based on the broad framework set by the Australian/New Zealand Standard for Risk Management and form part of an integrated package which includes DOFA-wide awareness sessions, a risk management web site and development of risk profiles at the business unit level.

Additional initiatives to strengthen and more effectively provide for risk management in DOFA include:

  • incorporating departmental policy to identify, assess and manage risk in DOFA's Chief Executive Instructions
  • fully integrating risk identification, assessment and management with business and project planning at all levels, as well as in individual performance plans and assessments
  • reviewing risk management policy, procedures and application within DOFA's individual business groups.



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