- Deferring the 2020-21 corporate plan up until 31 January 2021
- Seeking an extension for the 2019-20 annual report
- Enhanced disclosure of consultancy and non-consultancy contracts in non-corporate Commonwealth entities’ annual reports
- PGPA Rule amendments relating to machinery of government changes
- Developing Performance Information – RMG 131, updated to incorporate RMG 131A
- Annual Reporting - RMGs 135, 136 and 137 have been updated to reflect reporting changes
- Executive remuneration reporting for annual reports - RMGs 138 and 139
- New - RMG 423: Procurement Publishing and Reporting Obligations
- Comcover – Risk Education
Deferring the 2020-21 Corporate Plan up until 31 January 2021
The Finance Minister has approved an amendment to the PGPA Rule – the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Corporate Plans) Rules 2020. This amendment came into effect on 4 June 2020 and provides the capacity for accountable authorities of entities and directors of Commonwealth companies impacted by COVID-19 to defer the publication of 2020-21 corporate plans up until 31 January 2021.
Accountable authorities and directors who choose to defer the publication of their corporate plan must also explain why they were unable to meet the normal deadline in their 2020-21 corporate plan.
They will also be expected to publish a note on their websites by 31 August 2020, advising that the 2020-21 corporate plan has been deferred and the reasons for the deferral. Entities and companies are requested to advise the Department of Finance (Finance) by emailing PGPA@finance.gov.au at the time this information is published. This will allow Finance to keep Government informed about potential delays in the publication of 2020–21 corporate plans.
Please note: Entities and companies that are not significantly impacted by COVID-19, or have capacity to produce a corporate plan, are expected to meet the normal corporate plan deadline of 31 August.
Further information in relation to this can be found in the guidance document on the Finance website here: 2020-21 Corporate Plan and 2019-20 Annual Report deadlines.
This guidance document is also referenced on the following RMG pages on the Finance website: RMG 132; RMG 133; RMG 135; RMG 136 and RMG 137.
Seeking an extension for the 2019-20 annual report
As advised in earlier correspondence, entities and companies are able to utilise section 34C of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 where the accountable authority or directors consider that it is not reasonably possible to provide the annual report to the responsible Minister by the PGPA deadline (15 October for entities and 31 October for companies).
Finance has developed guidance to support entities and companies to understand the steps involved in seeking an extension from the responsible Minister. The guidance also includes template letters that can be used where entities or companies intend to seek an extension from their responsible Minister. This guidance can be found on the Finance website (on the RMG pages: RMG 132; RMG 133; RMG 135; RMG 136 and RMG 137) and is also linked here: 2020-21 Corporate Plan and 2019-20 Annual Report deadlines.
It is expected that where an entity or company seeks an extension for the presentation of their 2019–20 annual report, that they will present the report to the responsible Minister as soon as possible after the existing deadline.
Entities and companies are requested to advise Finance by emailing PGPA@finance.gov.au where they are granted an extension of the timeframe for the presentation of their annual reports from the responsible Minister. This will allow Finance to keep Government informed about potential delays in the tabling of 2019–20 annual reports.
Please note: Entities and companies that are not significantly impacted by COVID-19, or have the capacity to meet existing annual report deadlines, are expected to adhere to current requirements.
Enhanced disclosure of consultancy and non-consultancy contracts in non-corporate Commonwealth entities’ annual reports
The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Consultancy and Non-Consultancy Contract Expenditure Reporting) Rules 2020 was registered on the Federal Register of Legislation on 3 June 2020. This Rule amendment implements Recommendation 38 of the Independent Review into the operation of the PGPA Act and Rule which recommended enhanced disclosure of consultancy and non-consultancy contracts in non-corporate Commonwealth entities’ annual reports.
The Amendment Rule requires non-corporate Commonwealth entities to disclose in annual reports the number of, and expenditure on, consultancy and non-consultancy contracts and additional information about those organisations receiving that expenditure.
Based on feedback received during consultation with all non-corporate Commonwealth entities and recognising the disruptions caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic, the JCPAA and the Finance Minister have agreed that these new disclosure requirements apply for the 2020-21 reporting period. Entities are encouraged to make additional disclosures in their 2019-20 annual reports if they are already in a position to do so.
Please note that the Annual Report RMGs (RMG 135; RMG 136 and RMG 137) will not be updated for this rule change until the next reporting period noting the change does not take effect until the 2020-21 reporting period.
PGPA Rule amendments relating to machinery of government changes
The Finance Minister has approved an amendment to the PGPA Rule – the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (2020 Measures No.2) Rules 2020 – which outlines reporting arrangements following the transfer of functions and/or cessation of entities. This amendment came into effect on 22 May 2020 and repeals the previous section 17A of the PGPA Rule. It introduces several new sections (sections 17A to 17K) to clarify reporting arrangements for annual financial statements, annual performance statements and annual reports under different scenarios that may arise following cessation of entities and the transfer of functions.
Finance has developed RMG 119: Reporting requirements following machinery of government changes to support the amendment.
Developing Performance Information – RMG 131, updated to incorporate RMG 131A
RMG 131: Developing Good Performance Information provides practical information to support officials of Commonwealth entities in developing good performance information. The guide also provides guidance on the requirements for performance measures developed by entities (under section 16EA of the PGPA Rule), incorporating content previously contained in RMG 131A – Developing performance measures.
Annual Reporting - RMGs 135, 136 and 137 have been updated to reflect reporting changes
Updates to RMG 135; RMG 136 and RMG 137 have been made. The updates include the RMGs being restructured and streamlined into three parts, with the content now aligning with the list of requirements in the PGPA Rule. General changes have also been made, including:
- Updates to the existing data templates to provide further clarity when completing these and more explanatory content included in each RMG regarding the data templates and the digital annual reports reporting tool;
- Other highly paid staff data template has been update to change the first reporting band from $220,000 to $225,000; and
- The Compliance index for each entity has been updated to reflect the changes to the Audit committee reporting requirement.
Executive remuneration reporting for annual reports - RMGs 138 and 139
In late April 2020 updated versions of RMG 138: Commonwealth entities executive remuneration reporting guide for annual reports and RMG 139: Commonwealth companies executive remuneration reporting guide for annual reports were published. The key changes made to the guidance material include:
- the inclusion of good practice examples for different aspects of the disclosures
- clarification on the inclusion of fringe benefits tax
- the inclusion of the process for seeking an exemption from the Finance Minister for one or more of the executive remuneration reporting requirements
- additional information to support entities determine their key management personnel (RMG 138 only)
- the inclusion of the other highly paid staff threshold for 2019-20 (RMG 138 only)
- reporting responsibilities where functions are transferred as a result of machinery of government changes (RMG 138 only)
- further guidance on presenting overseas housing benefits (RMG 138 only).
Further details on a number of these changes were outlined in an email dated 29 April 2020 sent to all entities and companies. If you have any questions please email PGPA@finance.gov.au.
New - RMG 423: Procurement Publishing and Reporting Obligations
Finance has released a new RMG setting out the procurement publishing and reporting requirements for relevant entities under the Commonwealth Procurement Framework and related government policies, making it easier for officials to understand and apply their reporting obligations.
RMG 423: Procurement Publishing and Reporting Obligations is available on the Finance website.
The RMG replaces the procurement publishing and reporting guidance previously located under the Reporting Requirements tile on the Finance website Buying for the Australian Government.
The new RMG also includes information on intra-Commonwealth arrangements and a section on quality assurance that entities may find useful.
The publication of the new RMG has resulted in changes to the following existing RMGs:
- RMG 407 – Restrictions on advertising for open Approaches to Market (ATMs) has been incorporated into RMG 423, including the Exemption Letter Template. RMG 407 has subsequently been retired; and
- RMG 411 – Grants, Procurements and other financial arrangements has been updated to include instruction on the classification of intra-Commonwealth arrangements.
Comcover – Risk Education
Comcover has an exciting new initiative in the risk education space. In addition to their e-learning and face-to-face courses they are introducing new, innovative ways of educating the APS on risk management while working remotely.
One such way is through the use of Microbite learning. Microbite learning supports people by delivering content in small, specific bursts – similar to all of the ‘how to’ videos on the Internet we often look up for quick guidance to fix things around the house.
Since the lock down commenced Comcover have released three microbites that have been positively received by entities, and collectively viewed over 2,000 times across more than 40 entities. For your reference, here is the latest microbite on Risk Appetite and Tolerance – Supporting effective decision making in times of crisis – check it out and let them know what you think!
Also while still working from home, don’t forget to take advantage of Comcover’s free risk e-learning modules to develop, or brush up on, your risk management skills through the Comcover Learning Centre (free for all APS officials).