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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade :: 2001-2002 Annual Report
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Output 1.1 Quality and quantity information

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Quality indicators

  • Satisfaction of portfolio ministers with the department's policy advice, analysis, speeches and briefings, including the department's contribution to the development of policies of other Commonwealth agencies which have an international dimension.
  • Satisfaction of portfolio ministers with the protection and advancement of Australia's international interests, including the conduct and timeliness of bilateral and multilateral negotiations, effective advocacy and representations, post reporting and the organisation of official programs.
  • Strong capacity to assess, analyse and advise on responses to international developments.

Quantity indicators

  • Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network.
  • Number of units of policy advice delivered, including ministerial and cabinet submissions, ministerial correspondence, and speeches and briefings including parliamentary briefings.
  • 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 policy advice.
  • Number of representations made to other governments and international organisations in support of Australia's international interests.
  • Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Commonwealth agencies.
  • Number of official programs prepared for DFAT ministers and senior officials.
  • Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister, other ministers and senior officials.
  • Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas missions.
  • Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other government agencies.
  • Number of Foreign Affairs Council and Trade Policy Advisory Council meetings organised.

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Provision of policy advice, analysis, speeches and briefings

The department received informal feedback on its performance through the daily contact of the Senior Executive with portfolio ministers, 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 regular interaction with the Prime Minister and non-portfolio ministers on foreign and trade policy issues.

Structured mechanisms for ministers to provide performance feedback include:

  • the regular policy discussions ministers hold with the Secretary and members of the Senior Executive
  • ministers' comments on the formal written advice-mainly in the form of submissions and briefing-provided by the department
  • the calls our heads of mission make on portfolio ministers at the commencement of, mid-way through, and sometimes also at the conclusion of their postings.

Ministers expressed general satisfaction with the level, intensity, diversity, alacrity, and effectiveness of the department's policy work.

Ministerial submissions and briefings
During the reporting period, the department produced over 1500 written submissions and over 4600 briefings for ministers' consideration.

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 with the department's continuing efforts to improve both the quality and timeliness of PPQs, including through training of staff (50 staff undertook training in writing PPQs in 2001-02) and further 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 134 ministerial and senior executive speeches.

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Protection and advancement of Australia's international interests

Ministers were generally satisfied with the department's work. Following are some examples of feedback:

  • Mr Vaile thanked the department for its work in preparing for the Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Uruguay in September 2001, and expressed his appreciation for our efforts in helping to secure the launch of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Doha in November 2001
  • Mr Downer commended the department's efforts in organising and supporting the Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime in Bali in February 2002, which delivered high-level political commitment to address these issues in the region
  • The Prime Minister, Mr Howard, thanked the department for the support it provided for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Coolum in March 2002, which he stated reflected well on Australia internationally and strengthened the Commonwealth.

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Capacity to respond to international developments

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. To maintain 'surge capacity' to react to the unexpected-as opposed to the cultivation of corporate strengths in predicting, anticipating and shaping developments-the Secretary initiated further action to promote and embed 'Working Smarter' principles so that normal operations did not drain staff energies (see Section 3-Corporate Management and Accountability-at page 195 for further detail on the Secretary's 'Working Smarter' initiative).

Quantity information for output 1.1

Indicator 2001-02 2000-01
Scope and composition of the DFAT-managed diplomatic network. See Appendix 15 (Summary of the overseas network)
Number of units of policy advice delivered:
  Ministerial submissions 1 556 1 561
  Cabinet submissions [Note 1] 12 20
  Ministerial correspondence [Note 2] 7 664 7 691
  Speeches [Note 3] 134 195
  Briefings not under submission [Note 4] 4 608 4 069
  Cabinet briefings for ministers [Note 5] 65 110
  Meeting briefs 314 322
Number of consultations conducted with other Australian government agencies, state and territory governments, and business and non-government organisations in the context of the department's development of foreign and trade policy advice. [Note 6] 23 043 7 824
Number of representations made to other governments and international organisations in support of Australia's international interests. [Note 7] 34 681 20 760
Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Australian government agencies. [Note 8] 15 731 13 884
Number of official programs prepared for DFAT ministers and senior officials. [Note 9] 881 61
Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister, other Australian government ministers and senior officials. [Note 10] 912 130
Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas missions. 75 019 72 770
Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Australian government agencies. [Note 11] 3 561 70
Number of Foreign Affairs Council meetings organised. [Note 12] 3 3
Number of Trade Policy Advisory Council meetings organised. 2 3

1. This figure reflects a decrease in cabinet submissions during the period leading up to the federal election in November 2001 until the first sitting of the new parliament in February 2002.

2. We also received and processed 14 902 items of campaign mail.

3. This figure reflects a decrease in speeches during the period leading up to the federal election in November 2001 until the first sitting of the new parliament in February 2002.

4. This figure includes daily consular briefings for ministers and senior officials.

5. This figure reflects a decrease in cabinet briefings for ministers during the period leading up to the federal election in November 2001 until the first sitting of the new parliament in February 2002.

6. This figure includes semi-formal consultations such as telephone conversations and email correspondence which were not counted in the 2000-01 annual report.

7. 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. The increase from 2000-01 is attributable to a number of factors, including better data collection methods, and international developments such as the war against terrorism, preparations for CHOGM and increased activity to combat people smuggling.

8. This figure includes meetings with non-government organisations and business representatives, which were not counted in the 2000-01 annual report.

9. This figure includes programs prepared for senior officials (BB4 level or equivalent and above) which were counted separately in the 2000-01 annual report.

10. This figure includes programs prepared for senior officials (equivalent of DFAT BB4 and above) which were counted separately in the 2000-01 annual report.

11. This figure includes formal contact between departments such as inter-departmental committee meetings in which officers provided significant input to the policies of other agencies. In previous years, this figure only included responses to requests by other departments for coordination comments on cabinet submissions.

12. Lists of members of the Foreign Affairs Council and Trade 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

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