Corporate plans for Commonwealth entities (RMG 132)

Audience

This guide is relevant to officials from Commonwealth entities that have responsibility for assisting accountable authorities preparing corporate plans for

  • non-corporate Commonwealth entities (NCEs)
  • corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs).

The guide is also intended to support officers who manage the activities (as described in the corporate plan) of an entity.

Key points

This guide:

  • gives guidance on the obligations of accountable authorities under section 35 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) to prepare corporate plans for their entities
  • provides information on the minimum requirements, as prescribed by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule) in
  • section 16E, for corporate plans published by entities.

This guide applies to corporate plans for non-corporate Commonwealth entities (NCEs) and Commonwealth corporate entities (CCEs) that commenced on or after 1 July 2015.

Resources

This guide is available on the Department of Finance website.

Other relevant publications include:

  • Resource Management Guide No. 130 Overview of the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework
  • Resource Management Guide No. 131 Developing good performance information
  • Resource Management Guide No. 133 Corporate plans for Commonwealth companies
  • Resource Management Guide No. 134 Annual performance statements for Commonwealth entities
  • Resource Management Guide No. 135 Annual reports for non-corporate Commonwealth entities
  • Resource Management Guide No. 136 Annual reports for corporate Commonwealth entities
  • Guide to preparing the Portfolio Budget Statements
  • Commonwealth risk management policy
  • Regulation performance framework

Introduction

  1. Subsection 35(1) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act) requires the accountable authority of Commonwealth entity to prepare a corporate plan for the entity at least once each reporting period for the entity.
  2. Subsection 16E(3) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (the PGPA Rule) requires that an entity’s corporate plan be published on its website by the last day of the second month of the reporting period for which the plan is prepared.
Commonwealth entities that report on a financial year basis must publish their updated corporate plans on their website by the 31 of August of each year. Entities that report on a calendar year basis must publish a corporate plan by the end of each February.
  1. Subsection 16(E)(5) of the PGPA Rule requires a copy of the entity’s corporate plan to be provided to its responsible Minister and the Finance Minister as soon as practicable after it is prepared and before it is published on its website.
It not necessary for entities to send copies to the Office of the Finance Minister directly -- entities should forward a copy of their updated plans to the Finance Secretary by email to: pmra@finance.gov.au
  1. Corporate plans are designed to be the primary planning documents of entities. A corporate plan clearly sets out:
  • what an entity’s purposes are
  • what it will do to achieve its purposes
  • how it will know that it has achieved its purposes.

The plan informs the reader about the significant activities the entity will undertake over the period of the plan.

  1. The minimum content requirements for corporate plans are set out in section 16E of the PGPA Rule. The corporate plan must include:
  • an introduction
  • the purposes of the entity
  • the broader environment within which the entity works
  • the planned performance of the entity (and any subsidiaries that contribute to achieving its purposes), including details of the methodology, data and information that it will use to measure and assess its performance
  • the capability of the entity, including the plans and strategies it will implement to achieve its purposes
  • the entity’s risk oversight and management systems.

Entities do not have to structure their corporate plan in the same order as the minimum requirements of the PGPA Rule.

  1. This guide provides information on the minimum requirements for corporate plans, as set out by the PGPA Act and the PGPA Rule. The guide recognises that it is the accountable authorities of entities who are responsible for developing and tailoring their corporate plans to suit their entity’s particular circumstances.
  2. Where appropriate each minimum requirement is illustrated by examples of how it has been addressed by specific entities. These examples are to be taken as better practice and are drawn from an analysis of 2016-17 corporate plans described in a lessons learned paper previously circulated by the Department of Finance.

Part 1 – The role of corporate plans in the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework

  1. The enhanced Commonwealth performance framework addresses performance planning, measurement and reporting through three main concepts: entity, purposes and activities. At its most basic, the framework is focused on each entity covered by the PGPA Act. Each entity is required to identify its purposes. The purposes of a Commonwealth entity are the strategic objectives that the entity will pursue over the reporting period. Lastly, the framework focuses on the activities of the entity, which are its core areas of effort and the actions that it undertakes to pursue and fulfil its purposes.
  2. The corporate plan, Portfolio Budget Statements and the annual performance statements (included in annual reports) are the core elements of the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework.
  • The corporate plan is developed at the beginning of the reporting cycle and sets out an entity’s strategies for achieving its purposes and how success will be measured.
  • The Portfolio Budget Statements sets out the funding for the entity and how the impact of that expenditure will be measured.
  • Annual performance statements, which are included as part of the entity’s annual report, are produced at the end of the reporting cycle and provide an assessment of the extent to which an entity has succeeded in achieving its purposes.

Figure 1 shows the main components of the framework and the annual cycle.

  1. Many of the minimum content requirements for entities’ corporate plans are linked to the content requirements for annual performance statements (see section 16F of the PGPA Rule and Resource Management Guide No. 134 Annual performance statements for Commonwealth entities). This alignment recognises the close relationship between the main components of the framework. The annual performance statements report on the actual results achieved in the reporting period against the planned performance criteria set out in the corporate plan.
  2. The requirements for corporate plans are designed to allow each entity to present planning information at the level of detail it believes will best inform the reader of the results the entity intends to achieve over the term of the plan.

Figure 1: The Enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework

Part 2 – Key priorities and objectives of the Australian Government

  1. If the Australian Government has published a statement of its priorities and objectives under section 34 of the PGPA Act, subsection 35(3) of the Act requires a corporate plan to explain how an entity’s activities contribute to achieving those priorities and objectives. This requirement only applies if the purpose(s) of the entity relate to the priorities and objectives published in the statement. In addition, for entities that have enabling legislation, the requirement only applies to the extent that compliance with subsection 35(3) is not inconsistent with compliance with the enabling legislation.

Part 3 – Relationship between corporate plans and Portfolio Budget Statements

  1. A Finance Secretary Direction on ‘Requirements for Performance Information in Portfolio Budget Statements’ is now in place, which requires, amongst other things, entities to continue to include performance criteria, and indicative current year results, in their Portfolio Budget Statements.
  2. As a result, entities now have to report on performance criteria in both their corporate plans and Portfolio Budget Statements in their annual performance statements at the end of each financial year/reporting period. The Portfolio Budget Statements therefore remain an important element of the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework.
  3. The Direction requires entities to include at least one performance criterion in their Portfolio Budget Statements for each program. Entities are also required to map each of these performance criterion to corporate plan purposes to ensure a clear read between the documents. This will assist entities integrate the Portfolio Budget Statements performance criteria into their annual performance statements.
  4. Where this includes a new material program, entities are expected to show all relevant performance criteria in their Portfolio Budget Statements. Further information on this process can be obtained from the Finance issued ‘Guide to preparing the Portfolio Budget Statements’.
  5. Entities will therefore need to carefully manage the relationship between the corporate plan and the Portfolio Budget Statements, given the continued requirement to report on all performance criteria in the annual performance statements at the end of the financial year. A suggested approach for managing this relationship is shown in figure 2.

 Figure 2: Suggested approach to integrating performance information in the PBS and corporate plan

Part 4 – Subsidiaries

  1. Subsection 35(3) of the PGPA Act requires an entity’s corporate plan to cover its subsidiaries – if the entity has any. The matters to be included in relation to each subsidiary are those prescribed by the PGPA Rule, so far as they are applicable.
  2. Subsection 16E(2) of the PGPA Rule requires an entity’s corporate plan to include a summary how each of its subsidiaries – where they exist – contribute to the entity achieving its purposes as a whole.
  3. In practice, corporate plans will inherently incorporate any subsidiaries an entity may have; however, this may not require each subsidiary to be separately or specifically identified in the corporate plan. Entities may determine, on a case-by-case basis, if separate identification of a subsidiary is required. The main consideration will be the significance of the subsidiary and the effect it is expected to have on the fulfilment of the entity’s purposes with subsidiaries that have a significant effect or contribution, specifically addressed in the entities corporate plan.

Part 5 – Overview of the corporate plan

What is a corporate plan?

  1. The corporate plan is the primary planning document of an entity, informed by the entity’s internal planning processes, setting out the objectives and strategies it intends to pursue in achieving its purposes over at least four reporting periods. The size and complexity of an entity determines the scope and complexity of its internal planning processes and, by extension, the content of its corporate plan. In many cases, corporate plans will be informed by an entity’s strategic, operational and even individual planning processes. The majority of corporate plans will be public documents.[1]
  2. Figure 3 illustrates how the internal planning processes of an entity underpin and support the publicly reported corporate plan. Planning processes at the strategic level (e.g. group and functional plans), operational level (e.g. business plans), and individual level (e.g. individual performance and development agreements) fulfil specific planning requirements within an entity. These internal plans are often too detailed and internally focused to be released publicly, and some may contain confidential or sensitive information.

How the corporate plan fits into entity internal planning processes –the apex of entity planning

Figure 3: Generic organisational planning hierarchy

  1. Each entity needs to decide how its internal planning processes may be best used in developing the corporate plan. This will involve determining what aspects of its internal planning give the best quality insight into its purposes, significant activities and intended results. The corporate plan is unlikely to be a simple summation of internal planning.

    Integrating the minimum requirements into a corporate plan

  2. Entities have the flexibility to structure their corporate plan in a way that provides the best mechanism for communicating the entity’s purposes and its proposed activities.
  3. The PGPA Rule outlines the six requirements that need to be addressed in the corporate plan. These are:
  • Introduction
  • Purposes
  • Environment
  • Performance
  • Capability
  • Risk oversight and management
  1. Entities are not obliged to follow the structure of the PGPA Rule when they are developing their corporate plan. In fact, entities are encouraged to consider how the minimum requirements relate to each other and how the corporate plan can be structured to ensure the requirements work together to enhance the cohesion of the document.
  2. A preferred approach is for entities to use their purposes as an anchor for the structure of their corporate plan. The approach is illustrated in figure 4. This approach acknowledges that good purposes will describe what an entity seeks to achieve, and good performance information describe what happens when purposes are achieved.
  3. Figure 4 seeks to make the point that the environment in which an entity operates – including risk and capability– will influence the activities an entity undertakes to achieve its purposes. Rather than explaining environment, capability and risk exposure in separate sections, the preferred approach is to weave a discussion of these elements into an explanation of what activities are undertaken (and how) to achieve an entity’s purposes. This is likely to make for a clearer and more cohesive performance story.

 Figure 4: Relationships between purposes, other minimum requirements and performance reporting – the preferred approach

  1. An entity’s corporate plan does not need to describe everything it does to deliver its purposes. It should focus on the high-level activities through which the results captured by its performance frameworks are achieved. A discussion of activities should provide a reader some insight and understanding of how purposes are pursued. Each activity should be explicitly linked to a purpose, together with the contribution it makes to achieving an entity’s purposes.

 

Better practice example 1 – well-structured corporate plan

The Australian Maritime and Safety Authority (AMSA) 2016–17 corporate plan is structured around three ‘challenges’, which can be interpreted as the entity’s purposes:

  • Challenge 1 – Managing risks to [maritime] safety and the environment
  • Challenge 2 – Building the national system for domestic and commercial vessel safety
  • Challenge 3 – Delivering [maritime] incident intervention and response.

Each challenge is described in a separate section that provides information under the following headings:

  • Operating environment – factors within and outside AMSA’s control and their implications for what AMSA must do to
  • Strategic goals – what success broadly looks like when the challenge is addressed well
  • Responses – the activities (referred to as ‘focus areas’) AMSA will pursue to address each challenge, the capability required and how it will measure its success (i.e. performance information).

Each section tells a self-contained performance story that allows readers to understand the environment in which AMSA operates to achieve each purpose, the activities undertaken to achieve that purpose and the capability required to undertake those activities.

Other sections serve to augment the understanding of how challenges are addressed, including the broader organisational and external environment in which AMSA operates.

Better practice example 2 –corporate plan structured around distinct purposes

The Department of Social Services (DSS) corporate plan is structured around four distinct purposes, each of which clearly indicates what is being done, for whom and to what effect. For example, the ‘Housing’ purpose makes clear that it is about providing support and services (the WHAT) to individuals experiencing homelessness (the WHO) to improve access to affordable housing (to what EFFECT).

Part 6 – Minimum requirements of the corporate plan

Period of the corporate plan

  1. Subsection 16E(1) of the PGPA Rule requires a Commonwealth entity’s corporate plan to cover at least 4 reporting periods starting with the reporting period for which the corporate plan is prepared under paragraph 35(1)(a) of the PGPA Act.
  2. A corporate plan prepared by an entity for the 2020-21 financial year would be titled as that ‘entity’s 2020-21 corporate plan’ and that plan must contain content that addresses the minimum requirements from 2020-21 to 2023-24 (minimum four reporting periods)[4]. For the following reporting period (2021-22), the entity will again prepare a corporate plan and this plan would be titled as that ‘entity’s 2021-22 corporate plan’. This updated corporate plan must contain content that addresses the minimum requirements from 2021-22 to 2024-25 (minimum four reporting periods). Figure 3 illustrates this example.

Figure 5: Period of corporate plan

Four-year time horizon

  1. The four-year time horizon for a corporate plan allows an entity to outline its medium-term strategic direction, including detail about its significant activities, capability and risks. It also allows an entity to identify the key challenges, decision points and any trade-offs that may be required in achieving its purposes.
  2. The PGPA Rule sets a minimum of four reporting periods (e.g. financial or calendar years) for corporate plans. However, it does not preclude an entity from producing a corporate plan that covers a longer period if that best addresses the entity’s specific requirements.
  3. All six of the minimum requirements under subsection 16E(2) of the PGPA Rule are required to cover the four reporting periods of the corporate plan. It is expected that issues under the environment, capability, and risk oversight and management requirements are discussed for the whole period covered by the corporate plan (four years). Where some change is expected to occur over this four-year period, or between particular reporting periods that occur with the four-year period, then this should be discussed and the timelines made explicit.
  4. For the performance requirement, an entity must specifically cover the four reporting periods of its corporate plan. It is expected that an entity will set out its performance criteria and indicate which of those performance criteria apply for each of the four reporting periods.
  5. Paragraph 35(1)(a) of the PGPA Act states that the corporate plan for a Commonwealth entity must be prepared at least once each reporting period. As a reporting period is usually a financial year, this means that the corporate plan must be prepared each financial year. The plan must start on the first day of the first reporting period to which it relates. Subsection 16E(6) allows for a corporate plan to be varied during the reporting period (see Part 10 of this guide for more information).
  6. The intention of the corporate plan is to be the primary public planning document of the organisation. This guide recognises that entities may wish to add further content that is relevant to explaining how they plan to deliver upon their specified purposes. Entities have discretion to include any additional information that helps articulate how it intends to achieve its purposes.

Better practice example 3 – performance information that addresses each reporting period

The Australian Maritime and Safety Authority (AMSA) 2016–17 corporate plan includes a
table at p. 33  to illustrate which of their performance criteria apply to specific reporting periods (i.e. financial years). This approach enables a reader to clearly identify when a performance criterion will be reported against over the four-year period of the corporate plan.

 

Part 6(a) – Introduction (statement of preparation and period of coverage)

  1. Under subsection 16(E)(2) of the PGPA Rule the corporate plan must include an introductory statement that:
  • states that the plan has been prepared for paragraph 35(1)(b) of the PGPA Act. The statement may also refer to any other legislation applicable to the preparation of the plan
  • specifies the reporting period for which the plan is prepared (usually the first financial year of the minimum four-year period covered by the plan; e.g. 2016–17)
  • specifies the reporting periods covered by the plan (usually four financial years; e.g. 2016–17 to 2019–20).
Example statement of preparation

I/We, as the accountable authority of [entity name], present the [year for which the plan is prepared] [entity name] corporate plan, which covers the periods of [minimum four-year period], as required under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and [reference to sections of other applicable legislation].

Part 6(b) – Purposes

  1. Subsection 16E(2) of the PGPA Rule requires an entity’s corporate plan to include the purposes of the entity.
  2. An entity’s purposes will go to why the entity exists. In simple terms, the purposes of a Commonwealth entity are the strategic objectives that the entity intends to pursue over the reporting period. The aim of the purposes statement is to give context to the significant activities that the entity will pursue over the period covered by the plan.
  3. When constructing purposes statements, entities are encouraged to consider all sources that contribute to defining their objectives, such as:
  • key government priorities and objectives (statements made under section 34
  • of the PGPA Act)
  • Portfolio Budget Statements (outcomes and programs)
  • enabling legislation
  • administrative arrangement orders
  • other relevant legislation
  • other sources (e.g. national partnership agreements).
  1. It is important to include clearly identifiable purposes to allow a clear read through to the results reported in annual performance statements at the end of the reporting period. An entity’s annual performance statements are structured using the purposes as outlined in the corporate plan for the reporting period.
  2. Some entities may choose to include other strategic statements (such as mission statements, vision or strategic goals) in their corporate plans. These other strategic statements should be relevant to the entity’s purpose statement. Clearly articulated purposes should be identifiable in all corporate plans. Strategic statements should not be included as a substitute for a clear statement of purposes.
  3. Ideally, the purposes statement will be relevant for the medium to long term rather than simply a list of short-term goals. It may talk about the entity’s significant activities during the period covered by the plan and the high-level results those activities are expected to achieve, including the wider social, economic and environmental effects.
  4. If relevant, the purposes statement must include any key priorities and objectives relevant to the entity that have been published in a statement by the Australian Government under section 34 of the PGPA Act. Subsection 35(3) of the PGPA Act requires that if the Australian Government has published a statement of its key priorities and objectives under section 34 of the PGPA Act, and the purposes of an entity relate to those priorities and objectives, then the entity’s corporate plan must set out how the activities of the entity will contribute to achieving those priorities and objectives. Subsection 35(4) of the PGPA Act says that if the entity has enabling legislation, then subsection 35(3) applies only to the extent that compliance with that subsection is not inconsistent with compliance with that enabling legislation.
  5. Entities may also address other legislative requirements and other specified outcomes, targets or directions of government that they may be subject to. These inclusions are balanced against the interests of keeping the purposes statement concise.

Purposes statement

Entities should consider existing authoritative documents when defining their purposes, such as:

  • enabling legislation as passed by the parliament
  • the Council of Australian Governments or joint ministerial councils
  • the outcomes statements of appropriations legislation and Portfolio Budget Statement
  • descriptions published in the Administrative Arrangements Order.

Better practice example 4 – prominent and easily identified purpose

We help drive a stronger Australian economy by building a more profitable, resilient and sustainable agriculture sector, and by supporting the sustainable and productive management and use of rivers and water resources.

Page 6

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Agriculture) 2016–17 corporate plan includes a purpose statement that is readily identifiable – it appears immediately after the table of contents and is the first text to appear in the main body of the plan.

This purpose statement consolidates previous multiple outcome statements into a single sentence about what the entity seeks to achieve and to what effect.

Better practice example 5 – clear and concise purpose

Our role is to foster a productive and competitive labour market through employment policies and programs that increase workforce participation, and facilitate jobs growth through policies that promote fair, productive and safe workplaces.

Page 3

The purpose statement on p. 3 of the Department of  Employment (Employment) 2016-17 corporate plan is clear and concise. The reader can identify:

  • WHAT the entity aims to achieve (a productive and competitive labour market and jobs growth)
  • HOW (through policies and programs) and
  • to what EFFECT (increased workforce participation and fair, productive and safe workplaces).

Better practice example 6 – Purpose integrated with vision and values statements

PURPOSE

To find and empower Australian talent to shape and share their stories with the world by delivering future-focused, industry-relevant education, research and training.

VISION

To be the reference point for innovation in screen, sound and story-making, globally.

VALUES

We strive for mastery

We know that mastering this craft is a life-long endeavour. There is always more to learn.

We encourage daring

Nothing great ever came from playing it safe. We are bold. We take risks.

We believe in meritocracy

Page 3

The purpose described at p. 2 the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) 2016-17 corporate plan is a succinct statement of the entity’s unique contribution – which is to deliver education, research and training to allow Australians to tell their stories.

AFTRS’ corporate plan shows that vision and values statements can be presented without detracting from the purpose statement. The vision describes what motivates AFTRS to achieve its purpose and the values help describe the organisational culture in which the purpose is pursued.

Better practice example 7 – Purpose statement easily understood by a broad audience

We have a single enduring purpose that delivers value for the public:

To protect the nation and its interests from threats to security through intelligence collection, assessment and advice for Government, government agencies, and business.

Page 3

The purpose statement at p. 6 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) 2016-17 corporate plan is direct, concise and consistent with what most readers would understand as its unique role.

ASIO’s corporate plan is built around its purpose. Subsequent discussion of such things as its operating environment, activities and capability are with reference to this purpose and the factors it needs to take into account to fulfil it well.

Part 6(c) – Environment

  1. Subsection 16E(1) requires an entity’s corporate plan to include a discussion of the environment in which the entity will operate for each reporting period covered by the plan – at least four reporting periods. 
  2. In addressing the environment requirement, entities may provide an explanation of the nature and intricacies of the environment in which the entity operates. This could include demographic, geographic or temporal factors that affect the entity and its work, and the regulatory or competitive environment that it operates in.
  3. Consideration of the environment requirement, may be achieved by weaving a discussion of the environment into the context in which the entity operates, the activities undertaken and the purposes it seeks to achieve.
  4. An entity could also discuss the main external and internal factors that affect or influence its performance. For example, the entity may describe the conditions, circumstances and trends that may affect its capacity to achieve its purposes or the demand for, or supply of, its services. These may include macroeconomic and microeconomic factors (productivity, efficiency, labour supply and revenue), administrative factors (legislation, regulations and government policy), technological factors (computer software and automation) and social factors (changes in consumer preferences and trends).

Better example 8 – Discussion of an entity’s external environment

The context in which the Department of Environment operates is diverse, challenging and global in nature. Information provided in the ‘Operational context’ section of its 2016-17 corporate plan provides the reader with a clear understanding of this complexity. It also explains how Environment’s pursuit of its purposes fits into a broader context – for example, it discusses the fundamental links between the economy and the environment. This section also includes a sophisticated discussion of Environment’s scale of influence, governance and enterprise issues, and risk.

  1. Where environmental issues relate to the risks faced by the entity, identification in a way that allows for a clear read between this item and item 6 of subsection 16E(2) is encouraged (see Part 6(f) of this guide).

Environment

When explaining their environmental context, and its potential effect on performance, entities could consider and address the following broad categories of environmental factors (and their ability to respond to those factors):

factors in full control of the entity – factors in the environment that affect the entity’s performance, but that the entity can respond to and address

factors in partial control of the entity – factors in the environment that affect the entity’s performance, but that the entity is able to respond to, and have a limited effect on, but that may be leveraged or utilised, in some way, to achieve a desired result

factors beyond the control of the entity – factors in the environment that affect the entity’s performance, but that the entity cannot respond to or affect, but that have a substantial impact on its ability to deliver a desired result.

Better practice 9 – describing the extent to which factors are within an entity’s control

The Department of Environment’s (Environment) corporate plan includes a table (on p. 4) that summarises the factors within Environment’s operational environment. This table distinguishes between those over which it has substantial influence, partial influence and only limited influence. This classification of environment factors provides a sense of the extent to which Environment
can manage its operational environment through the activities it undertakes to  achieve its purposes. It also provides the reader of the sense of the risks Environment must manage by identifying those factors that (e.g. the decisions of international government) it cannot fully control.

Factors – Greater Influence Factors – Partial Influence Factors – Less Influence
  • Support of the Minister and Government
  • Reporting on the state of Australia's environment
  • Scanning for emerging risks and opportunities
  • Investing in our environment and heritage
  • Our environment and energy policy advice
  • Administration and enforcement of Commonwealth energy and enforcement laws
  • Our science and information base
  • Our engagement with the community
  • Our implementation of government agendas (e.g. innovation, regulatory reform, digital transformation)
  • Our approach to risk
  • Our workforce planning and working conditions
  • Our business operations
  • Budget allocations
  • State of Australia's economy
  • Decisions by business to invest in energy markets
  • Perception that environment and economy are mutually exclusive
  • Perception of the department and importance of the work we do
  • Energy costs
  • Environmental protection and conservation activities undertaken by states, territories and regional bodies
  • Uptake of energy efficiency initiatives
  • Compliance with and enforcement of Commonwealth environmental laws by others
  • Setting of environment related international obligations
  • Cooperation with public and private stakeholders
  • Passing of new initiatives through Parliament
  • Pressures external to the Department including the actions of international governments
  • Policy decisions of state and local governments
  • Machinery of government changes
  • Legacy effects of environmental damage (e.g. species loss)
  • Impacts of climate warming already in the world's climate systems
  1. A discussion of environment will typically include a discussion of how an entity collaborates with its key stakeholders to fulfil its purposes. Stakeholders could – for example – include other Commonwealth entities (e.g. those within the national security community), state governments (e.g. where entities purposes relate to education and health services), foreign governments, multilateral bodies, private enterprise and the not-for-profit sector.
  2. A discussion of collaboration would be expected to include how an entity identifies delivery partners and the contributions these partners make to achieving an entity’s purposes. For example, an entity could expand on the information reported in its most recent PBS that identifies how outcomes depend on contributions made by the programs delivered by other entities across the Commonwealth.

Better practice 10 – Importance of collaboration in dealing with an entity’s environment

The discussion of environment included in Austrade’s 2016-17 corporate plan demonstrates a clear understanding of the global market in which Austrade seeks to help its stakeholders compete. Information under the subheading ‘Strategic partnerships and collaboration’ highlights the relationships it has in place to best assist these stakeholders. For example, it notes that its strategic partnership across government entities ‘helps increase Austrade’s reach into the business community and leverages external resources, knowledge and skills’.

The plan emphasises Austrade’s focus on ensuring its activity is joined up across the Australian Government and the importance of maintaining close working relationships with other entities with an interest in Australia’s overseas trade activity. The description of collaboration across the government sector extends to joining up with state and territory governments, for example, through committees such as the Senior Officials Trade and Investment Group and the Australian Standing Committee on Tourism. It also details engagement with industry associations and chambers of commerce and industry, ‘particularly those which operate in sectors where Australia has a competitive advantage’. This information helps the reader understand the nature of Austrade’s collaboration and provides confidence that it has the relationships necessary to achieve its purpose. 

Part 6(d) – Performance

  1. Subsection 16E(2) of the PGPA Rule requires an entity’s corporate plan must include a summary of the following for each reporting period covered:
  • how the entity will achieve the entity’s purposes; and
  • how any subsidiary of the entity will contribute to achieving the entity’s purposes; and
  • how the entity’s performance will be measured and assessed in achieving the entity’s purposes, including any measures, targets and assessments that will be used to measure and assess the entity’s performance for the purposes of preparing the entity’s annual performance statements under section 16F of the PGPA Rule.
  1. The performance information generated through these mechanisms provides meaningful information to parliament and the Australian public about the performance of the entity and whether it is achieving its purposes. It can also be a useful tool for line managers, senior managers and accountable authorities to understand the impact of the activities they are responsible for, and to identify opportunities for better practice.
  1. The purpose of performance information described in corporate plans and reported against in annual performance statements should provide the Parliament and the Australian public with an understanding of whether an entity is achieving its purposes. A good performance story answers the following questions:
  • What did we do and how much?
  • How well did we do it?
  • Who was better off and why?
  1. Performance criteria from the corporate plan and Portfolio Budget Statements must be reported in an entity’s annual performance statements at the end of the reporting period. As such, it is important that the performance criteria in both documents work together to enable a coherent set of performance results to be included in the annual performance statements.

    Planned performance information

  2. An entity can make its own choice about how to structure and present the planned performance information it intends to include in its corporate plan (and report on in its annual performance statements).
  3. Planned performance information – including any performance criteria –  must address each reporting period covered by the corporate plan.
  4. However, entities have flexibility in how they present their planned performance information over the periods covered by the corporate plan.
  5. A corporate plan must approach planned performance so that it can be acquitted (at the end of the reporting period) in the entity’s annual performance statements. Beyond the first reporting period, (i.e. the forward three or more years), entities may present their planned performance information in a manner that best represents the intentions of the entity over that term.
  6. Figure 6 shows a set of categories that could be used in structuring the performance information in corporate plans. This approach is offered as a suggestion only. It presents the required elements in items 2 and 4 of subsection 16E(2) of the PGPA Rule in a clear and structured way. This approach also allows for a clear read to the annual performance statements at the end of the reporting period (see Resource Management Guide No. 130 Overview of the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework).

    Activities

  7. When developing performance information for its corporate plan, an entity may identify the efforts it will undertake in pursuing the purposes of the entity as ‘activities’. Activities is a concept that is intended to act as a vehicle to be used by entities to compartmentalise what they are going to do to fulfil their purposes. As such, an activity is defined as a distinct effort of an entity undertaken to achieve a specific result (achieving purposes).

Figure 6: A structured approach to presenting performance information 

Activities: Identification

  1. How an entity identifies its activities will determine the level at which it undertakes its performance measurement and the level at which it reports its actual performance within the annual performance statements.
  2. Smaller entities that have a single purpose, and engage in a single significant activity, do not need to identify minor or supporting activities. They will still need to provide information to meet the core minimum requirements for the corporate plan, but only for their single activity. Large entities that undertake a more complex range of activities will need to identify multiple significant activities in their corporate plans. These entities will need to be careful to select only the most significant activities or key activity areas to avoid their corporate plans becoming overly detailed.
  3. Each activity may have specific intended results and non-financial performance criteria, including targets. The purpose of the criteria is to give an understanding of an activity’s intended result, what it will deliver to the community or specific target group and how it proposes to measure effectiveness and efficiency.

Activities: Intended results

  1. Entities are encouraged to clearly identify the intended results of each significant activity they undertake. The intended results should relate to, be consistent with and facilitate the fulfilment of the entity’s purposes.
  2. A concise statement explaining a significant activity’s intended results may address some key questions about the activity, such as:
  • What issue, area of need, goal or intention has been identified for the activity?
  • What is known about the issue, area of need, goal or intention?
  • What is the scope of the issue, area of need, goal or intention?
  • How will the activity achieve its intended results?

 Activities: Delivery strategy

  1. Entities may consider outlining their strategies for achieving the intended results for each significant activity, including major projects and initiatives, and how they link to activities and assist the fulfilment of the entity’s purposes.
  2. Entities could indicate the timeframe for the activity and its intended results. For example, if the activity has a 10-year timeframe, the strategy may take this into account. Entities may also wish to include evidence of actual and planned progress, against their strategy to assist in explaining how it is being implemented.

    Activities: Resourcing

  3. Entities may also consider specifying the resources they will allocate to each significant activity to achieve their intended results.
  4. What resourcing information is included in an entity’s corporate plan is at the discretion of the entity. However, it is of note that demonstrating how public resources have been applied to achieve their purposes (and what outcomes and impacts have been achieved with those resources) are key to public accountability.

    Activities: Performance measurement and assessment

  5. Entities must explain how they will measure and assess their performance in achieving their purposes over the reporting periods covered by the corporate plan.
  6. Performance measurement is a way of monitoring and demonstrating an activity’s results. The sum of all significant activities’ performance demonstrates the overall performance against the purposes statement. Well planned performance criteria will give the reader a clear understanding of what success will look like and how it will be assessed. The annual performance statements will tell the reader about actual performance in the designated reporting period (usually a single financial year).
  7. There are many methods that entities may use to measure performance. For further guidance, see Resource Management Guide No. 131 Developing good performance information.

Proposed structure for activity performance measurement reporting

The purpose of the corporate plan is to make clear what is being measured, when it will be measured, how it will be measured, and what the intended results are for each significant activity or key area of activity. The following format is offered by way of suggestion only. However, its adoption will allow entities to clearly articulate their intentions for the current and future years and will facilitate the production of the annual performance statements at the end of a reporting period.

When presenting performance criteria in a corporate plan, entities may consider providing the following information for each criterion.

Description

a clear and concise explanation of the performance criterion (i.e. what will be measured)

When

an explanation of when, and over what term, the measurement will occur

Method

an explanation of the method that will be used to measure performance (for further guidance on methods for measuring performance, see Resource Management Guide No. 131 Developing good performance information)

Rationale

an explanation of how the measurement or approach will assess the performance achieved by the activity and why the method or methods chosen are suited to the activity

Target

details of what is expected to be achieved by the activity and how the criterion will be able to determine whether target has been achieved

Previous result

details of any previous outputs of the criterion to provide longitudinal perspective and context to current targets and goals

Related programmes

for entities that produce PBSs, details of related PBS programmes that the activity contributes to

 

Example 11 – Clear, concise and succinct performance information

Tourism Australia’s 2016-17 corporate plan uses a relatively small set of performance criteria to convey the growth it seeks to facilitate in the Australian tourism market by pursuing its purpose. The key performance measure is growth in tourism expenditure. This is supported by other information that connects Tourism Australia’s activities with the growth of the tourism sector. This includes information on the extent to which Tourism Australia contributes to recognition of the Australian tourism brand (measured as earned advertising value), the return on marketing investment and the proportion of stakeholders who recognise the value added by Tourism Australia.

Example 12 – Mix of quantitative and qualitative performance information

The ANAO 2016-17 corporate plan includes a mix of quantitative and qualitative information to measure performance. For example, output measures are used to report on audit activities, such as the numbers of financial statement audits, performance audit reports, and new or revised better practice guides.

Outcome measures are used to measure the impact of the ANAO’s activities. These include the extent to which audit committees acknowledge the value added by the ANAO’s audit services, the extent to which audited entities implement recommendations made in ANAO reports and the extent to which the Australian Parliament – one of the ANAO’s key stakeholders – considers the ANAO contributes to better government administration.

Example 13 – High-level performance information relevant to a large entity

Defence’s 2016–17 corporate plan is a good example of a complex entity focusing on high-level performance measures and activities. It does not describe in depth everything Defence does to deliver its purposes, but provides a high-level set of performance measures at the purpose level that is supported by high-level activities undertaken to achieve each purpose.

More detailed, operational-level performance information for Defence is contained in its classified internal business plan. A distinct set of performance information is provided for each of Defence’s three purposes. This means that the standard for judging the achievement of each purpose is unambiguous and easily identified. The measures describe what success looks like for each of Defence’s purposes.

The purpose-level performance measures are supported by performance information for activities that Defence undertakes to achieve its purposes. Defence states the intended results for each activity, which provides the reader with a link back to how each activity contributes to achieving the purpose and the overall impact being sought.

Continues on following page …

Example 14 – High-level performance information relevant to a large entity (…continued)

Each activity is described in terms of:

  • an intended result (e.g. Government is able to deploy defence capability to support policy objectives)
  • the criteria used to measure the quality of outcomes (e.g. preparedness levels meet government requirements)
  • when assessment against these criteria will be conducted (e.g. on an ongoing basis).

 

Example 15 – Rationalised performance information

CSC has rationalised the number of performance measures that were included in its 2015–16 corporate plan.

The simplified performance information outlined in its 2016–17  corporate plan is likely to make it easier for readers to draw a connection between CSC’s purpose – to grow the wealth of members of Australian government superannuation funds – and the impact generated when that purpose is achieved.

The performance information is highly relevant to CSC’s members, and appropriate for an entity that is responsible for growing the value of its members’ contributions. The main performance information consists of targets for returns above CPI and limiting the number of years in which funds managed by the CSC make a loss.

Other information – such as client satisfaction measures – is linked to CSC’s administrative functions, including paying benefits to eligible members.

 

Regulator Performance framework

  1. The Commonwealth Government’s Regulator Performance Framework (RPF) establishes a uniform set of performance criteria for assessing regulator performance. The framework is administered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and requires all Commonwealth regulators to be assessed and report against six key performance indicators: reducing regulatory burden, communications, risk‐based and proportionate approaches, efficient and coordinated monitoring, transparency, and continuous improvement.
  2. Entities may use the performance reporting requirements of the enhanced Commonwealth performance framework (the corporate plan and annual performance statements) to address the reporting requirements of the RPF. If a regulatory function forms a significant activity of an entity, the entity could consider including the key performance indicators and the evidence that addresses the requirements of the RPF in its corporate plan and annual performance statements. However, entities may note that addressing the requirements of the RPF will not fulfil the minimum requirements for corporate plans under the PGPA Rule.

 

Better example 16 – Integration with the Regulator Performance Framework (RPF)

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority 2015-16 corporate plan provides the reader with an understanding on the relationship between performance information described in it corporate plan and in meeting obligations under the RPF.

 

Part 6(e) – Capability

  1. Subsection16E(2) of the PGPA Rule requires a Commonwealth entity’s corporate plan to address its capability, including the key strategies and plans the entity will implement in each reporting period covered by the plan to achieve the entity’s purposes.
  2. Entities are expected to describe an entity’s current capability and assess how its capability needs may change over the term of the corporate plan. They may also outline the strategies they will put in place to build the capability they need in areas such as (but not limited to) staffing, capital investment or ICT.

Workforce planning

Entities that wish to refer to their workforce planning activities could discuss aspects of workforce demand and supply such as:

  • high-level trends and developments that are affecting or may affect their workforce
  • current workforce capability requirements and gaps
  • anticipated future workforce capability requirements and gaps
  • strategies and initiatives to address key workforce capability gaps
  • current and anticipated future workforce supply in terms of capacity and capability.
Capital investment strategy

If they wish to discuss their plans for significant capital investments, entities might:

  • refer to investments that are expected to make a significant contribution to their resources and capability
  • explain their strategies for planning and managing their capital assets and any capital pressures they expect to experience.

ICT capability

If they wish to discuss their plans for significant capital investments, entities might:

  • briefly outline their technology strategy to support future business requirements. This may include key objectives and focus areas for development in ICT capability over the short, medium and long terms and consideration of the drivers for change
  • explain how their technology strategy aligns with broader trends in technological development (including from a whole-of-government perspective).
  • identify proposed improvements in ICT capability that are expected to be achieved through collaboration, co-investment and/or shared services between entities.

Example 17 – Clear discussion of capability linked to the achievement of purposes

Environment’s 2016-17 corporate plan opens a discussion of capability with a clear statement of its intent to grow its capability in specific areas over the period of the plan to ‘achieve our purposes and build our influence’. This statement is followed by the diagram below, which illustrates the links between required capabilities and the achievement of purposes (p. 7). Capabilities are characterised in six high-level categories and presented in a way that points to a program of cultural change to ensure that Environment is well placed to deliver on its purposes over the medium to long term.

The discussion of capability is complemented with case studies that demonstrate the development of capability in response to particular challenges. For example, the case study titled ‘Tackling the Digital Transformation Agenda – Department and Parks Australia collaborating to be ahead of the game’ describes the development of a new e-ticketing system for access to Kakadu National Park. It shows how Environment is working with partners to develop skills and IT platforms in response to the broader whole-of-government agenda aimed at making better use of digital technologies to conduct government business.

Example 18 – Influence on capability development on the ability to achieve purposes

The BoM’s 2016-17 corporate plan is an example of a corporate plan from an entity that relies on the development and maintenance of capability to deliver on its purpose.

The BoM is an entity that requires specific technical capabilities to undertake the activities necessary for achieving its purpose. As such, its corporate plan has a strong focus on the work it does to attract, develop and maintain these capabilities.

For each key capability area, the BoM outlines its current capability, its capability aim and what it calls the ‘capability development pathway’, which includes outputs and measures of success.

  • The current capability establishes the baseline capability.
  • The capability aim sets out the enhancements or changes that are planned over the coming four years.
  • The capability development pathway sets out specified outputs to be achieved over the life of the plan and the success measures that will be used to identify when capability is developed as planned.

Examples of how the BoM applies this capability analysis framework is provided on pp. 21-33 of its corporate plan.

Part 6(f) – Risk oversight and management

  1. Subsection16E(2) of the PGPA Rule requires an entity’s corporate plans to include a summary of the risk oversight and management systems of the entity for each reporting period covered by the plan.
  2. Entities should explain how risk management will underpin their approach to achieving their purposes. Appropriate risk-taking and innovation are consistent with the proper use of and management of public resources. As a strategic planning document, the corporate plan should demonstrate that effective risk management priorities have been considered and implemented.
  3. Section 16 of the PGPA Act provides that accountable authorities of all Commonwealth entities must establish and maintain appropriate systems of risk oversight, management and internal control for the entity.
  4. The Commonwealth Risk Management Policy, released by Comcover, applies to non‑corporate Commonwealth entities to support compliance with section 16 of the PGPA Act. Corporate Commonwealth entities are not required to comply with the policy, although the policy says they may review and align their risk management frameworks and systems with the policy as a matter of good practice.
  5. In addition to describing the formal risk oversight and management systems they will have in place over the period covered by a corporate plan, entities are encouraged to also identify specific risks in its environment, and how these risks will shape the activities to be undertaken to fulfil its purposes. Figure 4 on p.13 above illustrates how such a discussion of specific risks might be incorporated into a broader discussion  
Example 19 – Discussion of risk beyond formal oversight and management arrangements

The DSS 2016-17 corporate plan discusses enterprise risk in the context of its operational environment. Specific risks are related to organisational priorities that help focus and direct activity towards achieving DSS’s purposes.

Part 7 – Entities with enabling legislation

  1. The PGPA Act does not affect the operational independence of statutory entities as set out in their enabling legislation or the requirements imposed on them by that legislation. The enabling legislation of a number of entities sets out requirements for the preparation of their corporate plans. These include disclosure, release and variation requirements.
  2. If an entity’s enabling legislation contains requirements for corporate plans that are different from the requirements of the PGPA Act and associated rules, the requirements of the enabling legislation may take priority.
  3. Similarly, if an entity already produces a product, under its enabling legislation or otherwise, that can be modified to meet the minimum requirements, e.g. a strategic plan, then the entity can put that product forward as its corporate plan.  This product could then perform a dual purpose.

Part 8 – Government business enterprises

  1. Section 5 of the PGPA Rule identifies those Commonwealth entities that are government business enterprises (GBEs) for the purposes of the PGPA Act:
  • the Australian Postal Corporation
  • Defence Housing Australia.
  1. GBEs are required to prepare corporate plans in accordance with the minimum requirements set out in section 16E of the PGPA Rule, but are also to refer to Resource Management Guide No. 126 Commonwealth Government Business Enterprise Governance and Oversight Guidelines (the GBE Guidelines). The guidelines are available at http://www.finance.gov.au/resource-management/governance/gbe/
  2. GBEs that fully comply with the GBE Guidelines (with specific reference to the corporate planning requirements contained therein) will meet the minimum requirements for corporate plans under the PGPA Act and associated rules.

Part 9 – Publication requirements

  1. From the 2015–16 financial year onwards, entities must publish their corporate plans on their websites by 31 August each year (or the end of February for entities that operate on a calendar year basis), unless another date is specified for an entity in its enabling legislation.
  2. Accountable authorities are required to provide a copy of the corporate plan to their responsible Minister and the Minister for Finance as soon as practicable after the plan is prepared and before it is published on their entity’s website.

    Sensitive information

  3. If the accountable authority considers that the corporate plan contains confidential or commercially sensitive information or information on national security matters that, if published, could prejudice the national security interests of the Commonwealth, a supplementary corporate plan may be prepared for publication on the entity’s website that excludes such matters – subsection 16E(4) of the PGPA Rule.
  4. Information may be considered for omission from the publicly available corporate plan if:
      • release of the information would cause competitive detriment to an entity
      • the information is not and should not be in the public domain
      • the information is not required to be disclosed under another law of the Commonwealth, a state or a territory
      • the information is not readily discoverable
      • the information relates to Australia’s defence, national security or law enforcement activities.
  5. The existing practice of GBEs of preparing and publishing a statement of corporate intent in place of a full corporate plan, in the interest of not disclosing commercially sensitive information, will remain a valid approach for GBEs under subsection
    16E(4) of the PGPA Rule. For more information on statements of corporate intent, see www.finance.gov.au/publications/governance-arrangements/docs/GBE_Guidel….
  6. If a corporate plan and a supplementary corporate plan, however described, are prepared, both must be provided to the responsible Minister and Minister for Finance before the supplementary corporate plan is published.

    Intelligence, security and listed law enforcement agencies

  7. Intelligence, security and listed law enforcement agencies covered by the PGPA Act may seek an exemption from the corporate planning requirements. Under
    paragraph 105D(3)(a) of the PGPA Act, the Minister for Finance may, by written instrument, modify requirements of the Act for an intelligence, security or listed law enforcement agency in relation to preparing and publishing a corporate plan under section 35 of the PGPA Act. The responsible Minister needs to write to the Minister for Finance seeking such a modification.

Part 10 – Variations to corporate plans – notification and minimum review requirements

  1. Subsection 16E(6) of the PGPA Rule allows for a corporate plan to be varied during a reporting period if an accountable authority considers appropriate. If such variations are considered significant, the revised plan must be published in accordance with the provisions under subsection 16E(4) of the Rule. The contents of the varied plan – must of course – comply with the Rule in the same manner as a plan otherwise would for the relevant reporting periods.
  2. Corporate plans must be reviewed at least annually; however, they may also be updated during the year if necessary. Issues that may require a plan to be updated include: any new purposes or key priorities for an entity; changes in the operating environment; new activities that warrant inclusion in the corporate plan; significant new performance criteria, targets or tools that will be used to measure or assess performance; and key changes in the capability of the entity or in its risk management approach.
  3. In short, if there is any new matter or material change to any item outlined in
    subsection 16E(2) of the PGPA Rule, it must be reflected in the annual review for the plan. At the same time, every annual review of the plan must reflect the new time horizon for the plan.
  4. At any time, accountable authorities may vary corporate plans at their own discretion, to reflect changes in the operations and activities of the entity.
  5. If circumstances require a corporate plan to be varied during the reporting period, and the variation is significant, a copy of the revised plan must be provided to the responsible Minister and the Minister for Finance and before being published on the entity’s website.

Footnotes

Part 5

[1] Most corporate plans will be public documents. However, in some circumstances plans will contain commercially sensitive information or information on national security matters and may necessitate the publication of a modified corporate plan. For information on the publication of corporate plan please see Part 10 of this guide.

Part 6

[4] After the 2020-21 reporting period this entity will also produce its annual performance statements for that period that should be titled as that ‘entity’s 2020-21 Annual performance statements’. These statements will report the entity’s actual performance in the 2020-21 reporting period against its performance criteria for that reporting period (i.e. the first period covered by the 2020-21 corporate plan) as prescribed in the entity’s 2020-21 corporate plan. 


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