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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Annual Report 2000-2001
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OUTPUT 1.1
Protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests through the diplomatic network and Canberra-based activity

OUTPUT 1.2
Provision of policy advice and analysis to Portfolio Ministers

Outputs 1.1 and 1.2 Quality and quantity information

Quality indicators

Quantity indicators

Protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests

The department received informal feedback on its performance through the daily contact of the Senior Executive with portfolio ministers, the constant interaction between ministers’ offices and departmental employees at all levels, and cooperation in the conduct of ministers’ international visits and their participation in international meetings. There is also frequent interaction with the Prime Minister and non-portfolio ministers on foreign and trade policy issues.

Structured mechanisms for ministers to provide performance feedback include:

Ministers have expressed general satisfaction with the level, intensity, diversity, alacrity, and effectiveness of the department’s work. Following are some examples of this feedback.

Capacity to respond to international events

The reporting against effectiveness indicators earlier in this report provides instances of appropriately timed and scaled responses to international events with significant consequences for Australia. The maintenance of ‘surge capacity’ to react to the unexpected—as opposed to the cultivation of corporate strengths in predicting, anticipating and shaping developments—was a basis of two major initiatives in the department’s corporate management during 2000–01: the strengthening of the network of overseas posts, and the promotion of working smarter principles to ensure that normal operations did not drain staff energies.

The department demonstrated its capacity by redirecting resources to be able to respond effectively to a number of events during the year. These included financial and security challenges in several states in our region and market access problems in several countries, as described in reporting against effectiveness indicators.

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Provision of policy advice, analysis, speeches and briefings

Ministerial submissions and briefings

During the reporting period, the department produced over 1,500 written submissions and over 4,000 briefings for ministers’ consideration. Portfolio ministers expressed broad satisfaction with the department’s policy advice and analysis.

Possible Parliamentary Questions

Possible Parliamentary Questions (PPQs) are prepared for ministers during parliamentary sitting periods and are an important centralised record of policy positions on key foreign and trade policy issues of public interest. Ministers expressed satisfaction at the end of the reporting period with the department’s efforts to continue to improve both the quality and timeliness of PPQs, including through increased training of staff (83 staff undertook training in writing PPQs in 2000–01, compared to 70 in 1999–2000) and enhancements to the electronic PPQ database.

Speeches

Speeches provided by the departmental speechwriters, in consultation with ministers’ offices and relevant areas of the department, were well received by ministers. We prepared 195 ministerial speeches—five more than during the previous year.

Quantity information [Note 1]

Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network. See Appendix 14
Number of representations made to other governments and international organisations in support of Australia's international interests. [Note 2] 20,760
Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Commonwealth agencies. [Note 3] 13,884
Number of official programs prepared for DFAT ministers. [Note 4] 61
Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister and other Commonwealth ministers. [Note 5] 130
Number of official programs prepared for Commonwealth senior officials, DFAT and other. [Note 6] 1,741
Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas missions. [Note 7] 72,770
Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Commonwealth agencies. [Note 8] 70
Number of units of policy advice delivered:
ministerial submissions 1,561
cabinet submissions 20
ministerial correspondence [Note 9] 7,691
speeches 195
briefings not under submission [Note 10] 4,069
cabinet briefings for ministers [Note 11] 110
meeting briefs 322
Number of consultations conducted with other Commonwealth agencies, State and Territory governments, business, and non-government organisations in the context of the department's development of foreign and trade advice. [Note 12] 7,824
Number of Foreign Affairs Council meetings organised. 3
Number of Trade Policy Advisory Council meetings organised. [Note 13] 3

1 Several of the indicators used for 1999–2000 were revised for 2000–01 (Click to view). Changes of collection methodology or in the definitions of items being counted are indicated in footnotes.

2 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The difficulty in defining what constitutes a representation, given our different operating environments overseas, means that this figure is necessarily an approximate one.

3 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The figure is still, necessarily, an approximate one. The 1999–2000 annual report counted representations as meetings; here they have been disaggregated.

4 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post; that is, it reflects the number of programs prepared on a country-by-country basis. Some transit arrangements that were counted as programs in the 1999–2000 annual report have been excluded here.

5 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post; that is, it reflects the number of programs prepared on a country-by-country basis.

6 This figure is based on work undertaken by each post; that is, it reflects the number of programs prepared on a county-by-country basis. Due to the way the information was collected by posts it is not possible to determine how many of these programs were prepared for DFAT officials and how many for other Commonwealth officials. This anomaly will be corrected in 2001–02.

7 This figure has been calculated using the total number of cables sent from overseas posts. Until December 1999, 4,000 to 5,000 reports per month were cabled from the Foreign Broadcasting Information Service (FBIS) in the United States. These reports are now accessible to DFAT staff via the FBIS website. In addition, e-mail has removed the need for some cables of an administrative nature.

8 This figure represents the number of requests from other departments for coordination comments on Cabinet Submissions.

9 We also received and processed 16,201 items of campaign mail.

10 This figure includes daily consular briefings for ministers and senior officials, which were not counted in the 1999–2000 annual report.

11 The figure of 1,659 that appeared in the department's 1999–00 annual report was a typographical error; the actual total was 169.

12 This information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The difficulty in defining what constitutes a consultation means that this figure is necessarily an approximate one.

13 Lists of members of the Foreign Affairs Council and Trade Policy Advisory Council can be found on the department's website at www.dfat.gov.au/fac and www.dfat.gov.au/trade/opening_doors/tpac.html respectively.

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