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Section 3: Management and accountability

The department needs to be fit for purpose to pursue Australia’s interests in a fast-changing and more competitive and contested world. We need to think differently about our capability and systems to improve service delivery and meet new challenges. In 2018–19 we intensified our efforts to strengthen our management, service delivery and accountability. For example, we set up the Office of the Pacific to lead Australia’s larger than ever whole-of-government efforts in the Pacific. We are committed to transforming our business processes and to refashioning our overseas operations.

Our enterprise


In January the department established new governance arrangements to improve its decision-making, implementation and consideration of risk and performance.

We created two top-tier committees chaired by the Secretary—the Strategic Policy Committee and the Performance, Risk and Resourcing Committee. These are supported by a new Operations Committee to ensure implementation, and the Aid Governance Board to oversee the development program. By giving staff greater visibility of decision-making, we are boosting efficiency and collaboration.

Our Internal Audit Branch—under the direction of the Chief Auditor—and our Office of Development Effectiveness enhance assurance and accountability across the department.

Senior management committees and their roles

The Strategic Policy Committee and Performance, Risk and Resourcing Committee are the department’s primary governance bodies.

The Secretary chairs both committees and deputy secretaries and other senior officers are committee members.

The Operations Committee oversees management and effective delivery of the department’s enabling services, including human resources, finance, information and communications technology and property. It provides assurance to the Performance, Risk and Resourcing Committee on operational matters. It has one independent member.

The Aid Governance Board oversees the development program to ensure it is consistent with government policy, achieves development impact and promotes value for money. It acts as an advisory body to the Strategic Policy Committee and Performance, Risk and Resourcing Committee providing strategic and policy advice, risk and performance oversight. It has two independent members.

The Audit and Risk Committee provides independent advice to the Secretary on the department’s financial and performance reporting responsibilities, risk oversight and management, internal control and compliance framework, and its external accountability requirements. It has four independent members including the chair. The Australian National Audit Office attends as an observer.

The Independent Evaluation Committee (IEC) oversees the work of the Office of Development Effectiveness and provides independent strategic and technical advice. IEC has three external members and was chaired during the reporting period by former World Bank Vice President Jim Adams. The Department of Finance attends as an observer.

The Ethics Committee oversees the department’s conduct and ethics policies and promotes high standards of probity, professionalism, accountability and conduct.

The Workplace Relations Committee comprises employee, union and management representatives and is our principal forum for consulting staff about conditions and exchanging views on workplace issues.

The Indigenous Taskforce provides advice and guidance on Indigenous issues across the department. It is a forum for the Indigenous Employees Network to engage with the senior executive.


The department is committed to ongoing improvement of our planning and performance processes as part of our accountability to ministers, parliament and the Australian people. We assess both our service delivery to Australians and our policy outcomes. Measuring our impact in a fluid global operating environment can be difficult and we use a number of methods to test our success. We make judgements on our performance supported by verifiable evidence.

Our performance framework is as follows:

Plan: the Corporate Plan is the department’s primary planning document and sits alongside the Portfolio Budget Statements. It informs work areas’ business plans. These in turn are reflected in individual performance and development agreements. This cascading system is designed so our people have a direct line of sight between their daily work and the department’s goals.

Monitor: we monitor progress against the Corporate Plan and Portfolio Budget Statements every quarter. Results are presented to the Performance, Risk and Resourcing Committee.

Review: once a year the department’s executive reviews the performance of each division and state and territory office, and provides a rating against the Corporate Plan and Portfolio Budget Statements performance measures. The Performance, Risk and Resourcing Committee endorses results. The executive reviews the performance of posts on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Learn: the department provides feedback to divisions on their performance. Business plans are living documents and we encourage teams to update these to reflect feedback and increased capacity to measure their performance.

Planning and performance reporting for the development program is a strong focus, including Aid Investment Plans, Aid Quality Checks, Aid Program Performance Reports and the annual Performance of Australian Aid report (see Priority 4).

We formally assess individual performance once a year, with mid-term feedback after six months. We encourage regular informal performance discussions. We value upwards feedback and collect this broadly, including for managers at the APS 6 level and above.

We provide training and support to staff to manage individual performance, including on complex issues. Our training recognises performance management as a central element of leadership. All staff can access mentoring through a register of volunteer mentors. First-time posted employees in critical positions overseas receive formal mentoring.

Innovation and risk

Innovation, contestability and foresight are central to the department’s efforts to deliver Foreign Policy White Paper commitments. The Secretary launched our second Innovation Strategy 2018–2021: Seizing Opportunities, Solving Challenges, which seeks to embed innovation across all of the department’s work.

Our innovationXchange is finding ways to achieve better outcomes, and to respond to new policy, program and service delivery challenges. Meanwhile our Strategic Policy, Contestability and Futures Branch allows us to better scan the global horizon, and to think about and plan for the future.

Our success also depends on our ability to engage with risk, capitalise on opportunities and work in new ways. The 2019 Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey found an increase in the department’s maturity across all nine elements of the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy.

The department has identified those critical risks that have a systemic impact on our priorities and capacity. We are addressing four enterprise vulnerabilities:

  • Changing dynamics of the international system—protecting and promoting regional and global relationships, institutions and norms.
  • Tension between Australia’s international and domestic priorities—responding to convergence of international and domestic elements of Australia’s policy objectives.
  • Capacity to move resources to emerging priorities—rebalancing resources to meet emerging threats and opportunities while maintaining existing functions.
  • Meeting our obligations—assuring we can meet performance, compliance and regulatory expectations.

Our governance committees provide essential oversight of our key risks. The Performance, Risk and Resourcing Committee reviews critical risks once a quarter and directs the department’s response. The Operations Committee reviews operational risks once a quarter. The Audit and Risk Committee gives independent assurance to the Secretary and advises whether the department’s approach is appropriate and fit for purpose.

We give staff the tools to support a positive risk culture. In December we released a Risk Management Guide—our framework for managing risk in line with the expectations of the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy. We have integrated risk management training into other departmental courses. In 2018–19 we ran our first annual survey to assess the department’s innovation and risk culture. The results give us a good benchmark and show us where to focus our outreach and training.

Our success in building a positive risk culture is not linear. The 2019 APS Employee Census highlighted some areas for improvement, which we are addressing. On balance we believe we are heading in the right direction, but we must not let up on our efforts.

Countering fraud

In 2018–19 the department continued to maintain appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures. Our Fraud Control Framework ensured the department had robust systems and procedures in place to protect public money, systems, information and property from fraud and corruption.

In September we released a new Fraud Control Plan setting out how we manage fraud and corruption risks, in accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework 2017. The plan provides policies, tools and guidance on how to prevent, detect and respond to fraud and corruption risks. We enhanced staff’s fraud awareness through mandatory training, reporting cases and information bulletins. Our Fraud Control Toolkit helps staff comply with their obligations.

Our partner organisations which receive funding play a key role in minimising exposure of the department’s interests to fraud and corruption. We produced a separate Fraud Control Toolkit for funding recipients which articulates the department’s requirements and expectations around managing and delivering programs on our behalf.

Business continuity planning

The department continued to refine its business continuity planning to ensure essential business services are available during and after a major disruption. We prioritised consular and passport services to ensure ongoing support to the Australian public. We tested our business continuity arrangements in June, which showed that we need to improve how we communicate with staff and stakeholders during an event. We are integrating business continuity into our governance arrangements to ensure senior oversight.

Our people

To achieve our goals, we need the right people, with the right skills, in the right place and at the right time.

A global workforce

The department operates in 109 locations overseas, with an additional 11 posts managed by Austrade. We also have offices in every Australian state and territory capital and the Torres Strait. At 30 June, 2,942 APS staff worked in Australia and 860 APS employees served at our overseas posts (see appendix 1).

The department’s Enterprise Agreement sets out the terms and conditions for non-SES APS employees. The current agreement came into effect on 10 January, with a nominal expiry date of 10 January 2022.

Senior Executive Service (SES) staff are employed under the terms of a determination made by the Secretary under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999. Key management personnel, SES and other highly paid staff remuneration is set out in Note 6.2 of the financial statements and in appendix 2.

The department provides a range of non-salary benefits, including influenza vaccinations, on-site gym facilities in Canberra and some overseas missions, and prioritised access to childcare in Canberra.

At 30 June we employed 2,276 locally engaged staff in our overseas missions. They provide invaluable expertise for consular and passport matters, policy development and support, and corporate support. Our locally engaged staff are employed under section 74 of the Public Service Act 1999. Where possible they are employed under individual employment contracts, operating under common terms and conditions in each country. These terms and conditions are standardised across all our posts, with scope for changes where required under local labour law.

Ambassador to Peru Diana Nelson with female motorized police in Lima, Peru [DFAT]
Ambassador to Peru Diana Nelson with two female motorised police—on her way to presenting her credentials in Lima, January 2019 [DFAT]

Workforce strategy

In 2018–19 we continued to roll out our Workforce Strategy 2018–2022 to establish a contemporary human resources business model to meet current and future workforce requirements. Realising the full benefits of the strategy will take time.

We ran recruitment rounds targeting specific capabilities to respond to our priorities. We recruited staff with Pacific expertise to deliver the Pacific Step-up. Other targeted recruitment bolstered the department’s capability in ICT, security, payroll and specialised passport skills. Building our international development and aid management capability remains a high priority.

In 2018–19 we streamlined some of our processes, leveraged technology and deepened our human resource capability. However there is more work to be done. Our model must be sufficiently agile to provide the department with the workforce it needs to deliver for government. This will continue to be a focus in 2019–20.

Diplomatic Academy

The department’s Diplomatic Academy builds skills and capabilities in the department and across the APS to support Australia’s ambitious international engagement agenda.

Since its launch the Diplomatic Academy has offered over 200 face-to-face courses. More than 8,800 staff from our department and other government agencies have participated in over 1,000 classes and seminars. The academy has delivered bespoke training on international policy and diplomatic tradecraft to a variety of APS agencies. It has also provided 166 e-learning courses to nearly 15,000 participants.

A significant new addition to our curriculums was face-to-face training on Indigenous Australia, which was delivered with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and Indigenous facilitators.

Our language faculty oversees training and maintenance of language skills, which are a core capability for the department. At 30 June, 760 serving staff had current proficiency across 31 languages. In 2018–19, 187 officers studied 26 languages in preparation for their postings to language-designated positions at our overseas missions.

The Academy’s International Graduate Program brings together graduate trainees with junior diplomats from around the world, building academic and practical capability as well as enduring relationships. In 2018–19, 42 graduate trainees and 24 international participants engaged in the six-week program, building negotiating, advocacy and business engagement skills, as well as developing a deeper understanding of Australia’s foreign, trade and development policies.

A particular focus was strengthening our international engagement, particularly in the Pacific. We delivered tailored training in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the northern Pacific.

Staff safety

We operate in high-risk locations and staff welfare is our top priority. We are committed to building an organisational culture that seeks to improve work practices and foster attitudes which sustain healthy and safe work environments. We aim to consider work health and safety in all operational decision-making.

The department’s Performance, Risk and Resourcing Committee, Operations Committee and the Audit and Risk Committee regularly review work health and safety processes and key risks. Page 107 of the Annual Performance Statement sets out our performance in protective security. Reporting on the department’s work health and safety performance is at appendix 5.

Flexible work

Mainstreaming flexible work is a key part of our Women in Leadership Strategy and central to enabling women’s career progression.

The introduction of an ‘if not, why not?’ approach to flexible work (January 2017), has led to many positive and visible changes. We have a good handle on uptake and attitudes.

In 2018, 31 per cent of colleagues (excluding overseas posts) had some type of flexible work arrangement, consistent with numbers in 2017. The majority of these were women (74 per cent), despite efforts to normalise flexible work for all staff, including through our Faces of Flexibility intranet campaign, regardless of gender and caring responsibilities.

The proportion of female staff undertaking flexible work (39 per cent) was nearly twice as high as the proportion of male staff (20 per cent)—an increase of six percentage points for women and a decrease of six percentage points for men from 2017.

Work to encourage more men to work flexibly and to equip colleagues with the tools and mindsets to enable effective flexible working continues.

Our culture

To deliver for Australia our workforce must be confident and able to contribute to its full potential. As the face of Australia to the world, our staff must also represent the wide and talented diversity of the Australian people.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is underpinned by a series of strategies. Beyond that, we encourage behaviour change, accountability and leadership at all levels. We aim to provide a safe workplace, with zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment.

Women in leadership

Our 2015 Women in Leadership Strategy has been a catalyst for visible and positive changes in the department’s culture. In 2019 an independent external review confirmed our substantial progress in ensuring gender equality in the workplace, while showing us where more work needs to be done. The 2019 APS Employee Census results confirm steady progress in employee perceptions of gender equality in the department.

The number of women in senior roles has reached an all-time high. We achieved our end-2018 target of 40 per cent representation of women at the SES Band 1 level, but fell short of our SES Band 2 target of 35 per cent (reaching 32 per cent). Since 2015 the number of women in the SES has increased from 34 per cent to 40 per cent, and the number of career-appointed women heads of mission (HOM) and heads of post (HOP) has increased from 25 per cent to 40 per cent. We have also made gains in pockets of our department that were traditionally male-dominated. For the first time, women make up 40 per cent of SES in our Information Management and Technology Division.

We have developed tools and policies to support staff, such as our APS-first travel and breastfeeding policy. While progress on women in leadership has been strong, we still have some way to go, especially as a global employer with staff operating in a range of overseas environments.

Figure 21: Women in leadership

Indigenous employees

We are improving employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by implementing our Indigenous Recruitment and Career Development Strategy 2016–2020. In 2018-19, 2.7 per cent of our APS employees identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, with 105 Indigenous APS employees (see appendix 1). We applied affirmative measures for Indigenous Australians at the APS 6, EL 1, EL 2 and senior executive levels.

In 2019 the Secretary renewed our commitment to reconciliation by launching the department’s Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan 2019–2022. This plan will help embed reconciliation initiatives across our work so they become business as usual.

A disability-inclusive workplace

We are building the representation of people with disability in our workforce under the department’s Disability Action Strategy 2017–2020.

In 2018–19, 109 of our APS employees reported a disability (2.9 per cent). This differed from the 2018 APS Employee Census, where five per cent of respondees identified as having a disability. We applied affirmative disability measures as part of our bulk recruitment for positions at the APS 6, EL 1, EL 2 and senior executive levels, and applied the RecruitAbility scheme in all other recruitment processes.

To promote a more inclusive workplace we provided disability confidence training to staff, managers and recruitment panels. In August we held our inaugural Disability Awareness Week and launched a dedicated disability portal for staff requiring reasonable adjustments. Disability reporting details under the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 are available at

Cultural and linguistic diversity

In June 694 APS employees reported being from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, representing 18.2 per cent of our APS employees. According to the 2018 APS Employee Census, 44 per cent of staff who responded were born overseas and 40 per cent speak a language other than English at home.

In September the Secretary launched the department’s inaugural Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD) Strategy 2018–2021. This provides a framework to enhance diversity in our work and identifies opportunities to address barriers for CALD staff. The CALD staff network—with almost 150 members—increases the social presence and awareness of the department’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. The department is an official supporter of the Australian Human Rights Commission ‘Racism. It stops with me’ campaign.

Figure 22: Diversity
Staff from the Australian Consulate-General in New York participating in the New York Pride March [DFAT]
Staff from the Australian Consulate-General New York—including Katie Marini, Jack Pead and Paul Boschen—in the New York Pride March [DFAT]

LGBTI workplace inclusion

According to the APS Employee Census, five per cent of our employees identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse and/or intersex (LGBTI). In November the Secretary launched the department’s inaugural LGBTI Strategy 2018–2021. We are fostering a safe and supportive culture where LGBTI employees feel respected, valued and empowered. The department was acknowledged with a Bronze Tier Award in the Australian Workplace Equality Index. In 2018–19 we also participated in a range of initiatives to improve LGBTI workplace inclusion, including Wear it Purple Day. We celebrated International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia in Australia and at posts around the world.

Values, conduct and ethics

We ensure the highest standards of conduct, integrity and professionalism. In 2018–19 we promoted the APS Values and Employment Principles through e-learning, face-to-face training and pre-posting conduct and ethics briefings.

Our Employee Conduct and Ethics Section provides an ethical advisory service and investigates allegations of fraud and misconduct involving staff, including locally engaged staff overseas. During the year, 66 allegations of misconduct were reported—37 were substantiated and 17 were unsubstantiated. Twelve matters are being finalised. Of the 37 substantiated matters, penalties were applied, including fines, a reduction in classification, a reprimand or a salary reduction. We undertook 10 APS Code of Conduct investigations and three employees were dismissed as a result.

Consistent with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, the department helps staff to report wrongdoing in the APS. Our policy is available on our intranet and external website. We also provide e-learning for staff.

Anti-bullying, harassment and discrimination

The department has zero tolerance for bullying, harassment (including sexual harassment) and discrimination, and is committed to providing a workplace that is fair, flexible, safe and rewarding. We provide mandatory e-learning to all staff in Australia and overseas, as well as access to support options, including a global network of over 200 workplace diversity contact officers. The Secretary and heads of 29 agencies represented at overseas posts signed the ‘One Government, One Approach, Zero Tolerance’ statement of commitment.

We published an updated policy that includes additional information on sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse. The policy sets out clear expectations of the standard of behaviour expected of our employees and contracted partners, as well as obligations for reporting when these expectations are not met. We set up a single telephone number for reporting or seeking assistance on any inappropriate behaviour, sexual harassment or sexual exploitation, and abuse of children and vulnerable adults. Our external website provides easy and quick access to information and support.

Prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment

In April the Secretary released the department’s Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Policy.

It reinforces the department’s zero tolerance of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment of any kind. This applies within our own organisation but also extends to our partners.

We all have a responsibility to act in an ethical and transparent way to build a respectful working culture that rejects inappropriate behaviour, and where staff and communities feel supported and valued. For this reason the policy applies to all the department’s business, in Australia and overseas.

The policy requires a heightened commitment and new ways of doing business. We have an opportunity to provide leadership by choosing to partner with—and fund—only those organisations which are prepared to meet the standards we set.

Domestic and family violence

Family and domestic violence is unacceptable under any circumstances. To support staff who are experiencing the impact of such violence, we included a new provision in our Enterprise Agreement that sets out the support we provide to employees experiencing family and domestic violence. This also includes guidance for managers and employees on accessing leave.

Mental health and wellbeing

Our Staff and Family Support Office (SFO) is instrumental to ensuring a mentally healthy and inclusive workplace. In November the Secretary launched the department’s inaugural Mental Health Strategy, after releasing our Mental Health Policy earlier in 2018. Together these support staff across our global network and create psychologically safe work environments.

During the year staff and families accessed:

  • 2,351 individual sessions supporting over 1,050 staff and family members
  • 202 training courses on topics such as workplace mental health for managers, stress management and self-care, and working with objectionable materials
  • 18 mental health first aid courses
  • 209 staff training opportunities.

These initiatives earned the department gold status with Mental Health First Aid Australia as a Mental Health First Aid Skilled Workplace.

Modernising our systems

The world is changing quickly, and so must we. New technologies and more modern work practices are challenging us to rethink many aspects of the way we operate—including how we organise ourselves, the things we do and how we do them.

The future overseas network

We are increasingly delivering services through regional hubs and flexible operating models through the department’s reDESIGN initiative. The next phase of reDESIGN will mature the regional model, with hubs taking on a more strategic corporate role. Corporate operations will be streamlined within each region, with some common functions transitioned to regional hubs or Canberra.

The department continues to roll out the largest expansion of Australia’s diplomatic network in 40 years. In 2018–19 we opened new posts in Funafuti (Tuvalu), Kolkata (India) and Shenyang (China). In line with our overall aim of achieving better outcomes with finite resources, these posts have smaller footprints and lower operating costs.


We are improving our enabling service delivery by streamlining, automating and simplifying systems and processes. Our new Transform22 program will help us modernise many of our corporate enabling services—like human resources, finance and ICT—with less paper and manual data entry, more automation and guided workflows, clearer advice on the intranet, more self-service options, and better data capture and business analytics. Specific improvements include introducing finance and contract management apps to make it easier to procure and pay for services, and implementing a global banking solution to facilitate broader back-office finance centralisation.

We entered into an international banking relationship with Citibank and commenced a project to centralise key elements of banking for our posts in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa.

We have also improved travel and expense management, enhanced human resource systems, and streamlined recruitment, posting and placements processes.

We are partnering with the Australian Government’s Service Delivery Office’s Productivity and Automation Centre of Excellence (PACE) to automate some processes.

Centralisation of overseas salary payments

We leveraged existing technology to centralise and standardise payroll and debt management processes for Australian staff in local currencies across the global diplomatic network.

This will reduce about 5,000 hours of administration each year. It will also deliver greater control and reduce processing errors: we will move from about 30,000 errors corrected in the previous three years to the new process being virtually error-free.

This successful project will be expanded to partner agency staff based overseas.

External accountability

Courts and tribunals

We managed a range of legal matters before courts and tribunals in 2018–19.

The department is a defendant in a number of matters before the Federal Court of Australia which commenced during the year. Two of these relate to passports, one relates to an employment action and one relates to a consular matter.

The department continued to defend applications before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) concerning passport decisions. Seven new matters were initiated against the department, and 13 were finalised in 2018–19. At the end of the reporting period, there was one active AAT matter and another awaiting final decision.

The department was a defendant in a number of matters in foreign courts or tribunals. Four of these related to employment actions, one of which was settled and three of which were ongoing at the end of the year. The department is a defendant in one matter in a foreign court in relation to an alleged breach of contract.

We complied with discovery, subpoena and other document production obligations in a range of matters. This included those brought against the Commonwealth and other Australian Government agencies.

The department facilitated the service of documents through diplomatic channels relating to private litigation brought overseas and in Australia. We also facilitated the service of documents on foreign states under the Foreign States Immunities Act 1985.

One unfair dismissal claim before the Fair Work Commission was commenced in 2018–19 and discontinued by the claimant.

Freedom of information and privacy

The department finalised 183 freedom of information applications in 2018–19. Detailed information on managing these requests can be found on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s website at

In line with requirements under the Freedom of Information Act 1982, we continued to publish information under the Information Publication Scheme contained in Part II of the Act. The content is available at

The Information Commissioner received one privacy complaint about the department. Following the department’s response to the Information Commissioner’s preliminary inquiries, the Information Commissioner formed the view that the department did not interfere with the individual’s privacy and the matter was closed.

Reports by the Auditor‑General

The Auditor-General tabled in parliament the following reports by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) related to the department’s operations:

  • Report No. 16 of 2018–19: Implementation of the Australian Government’s Workplace Bargaining Framework
  • Report No. 17 of 2018–19: Implementation of the Annual Performance Statements Requirements 2017–18
  • Report No. 33 of 2018–19: Governance and Integrity of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility
  • Report No. 41 of 2018–19: Coordination Arrangements of Australian Government Entities Operating in Torres Strait

Details of these reports, including our response, are available on the ANAO website.

Parliamentary committees of inquiry

Information on the department’s engagement with parliamentary committees of inquiry is in appendix 7.

Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman commenced six investigations in 2018–19 relating to the department’s activities. No notices were provided to the department under subsection 12(4) of the Ombudsman Act 1976 and no formal reports were issued.

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission initiated one new claim with respect to the department’s activities in 2018–19 and finalised two claims, including one which was initiated in the previous year.

Compensation for detriment caused by defective administration, acts of grace, ex-gratia payments

Nineteen new claims were made under the scheme for compensation for detriment caused by defective administration with respect to the department’s activities in 2018–19. The department finalised 22 cases during the same period, including those initiated in the previous financial year. Of these, 14 applications for compensation were accepted and eight were rejected.

One application for an act of grace payment received during a previous financial year was finalised in 2018–19. Another application for an act of grace payment received this year remained in progress with the Department of Finance at the end of the financial year.

Managing our financial resources

Assets management

Internal capital funding is allocated based on sound business cases developed by work units, which are assessed rigorously by the central finance area and approved by the senior executive. The senior executive reviews capital investment throughout the year. The long-term strategic planning of the department’s investment needs is supported through the implementation of the Capital Management Plan. We conduct informal reviews and impairment testing of asset classes annually to ensure asset values are fairly stated in the end of year financial statements.


The department’s purchasing was undertaken in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. As part of our corporate reform agenda we continued to simplify procurement processes.


During 2018–19, 23 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $531,152 (inclusive of GST). In addition, 26 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $2,207,713 (inclusive of GST).

The department engaged consultants when required for specialist expertise or independent research, review, assessment or creative solutions to assist decision-making. The decision to engage consultants was made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related rules, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and relevant departmental policies.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website at

Table 2: Consultants
No. of new contracts entered into during the period23
Total actual expenditure during the period on new contracts (inc. GST)$531,152
No. of ongoing contracts engaging consultants that were entered into during a previous period26
Total actual expenditure during the period on ongoing contracts (inc. GST)$2,207,713

Australian National Audit Office access clauses

The department’s standard contract templates include provisions allowing the ANAO to access a contractor’s premises.

Exempt contracts

There were nine contracts in excess of $10,000 (inclusive of GST), with a value of $54,133,164, exempted from being published in AusTender on the basis that publication would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

The department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and medium enterprises (SME) and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website:

We are committed to ensuring that SMEs can engage in fair competition and demonstrated this through our procurement practices, including use of the Commonwealth contracting templates.

The department held its third aid supplier conference in February to foster communication and understanding of working with the department to deliver the development program. The conference attracted widespread interest from a diverse aid supplier community.

The department recognises the importance of small businesses being paid on time, and makes sure we do so. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website:

Indigenous business engagement

The department continued to support the Indigenous supplier diversity strategy, including embedding targets in our Reconciliation Action Plan, Indigenous Business Charter and Indigenous People’s Strategy. The department has exceeded its Indigenous contract quota since the inception of the Indigenous Procurement Policy. We received our third consecutive annual Supply Nation finalist nomination for ‘Government Member of the Year’.

The department increased its engagement with Message Stick during the year—a recognised Indigenous-owned business—on a number of projects, including the WebEx video conferencing rollout. By supporting our suppliers we help promote development opportunities and pathways for Indigenous people into roles and careers in the digital economy.

Diversity and inclusion awards

The department and its aid suppliers scaled up their work on diversity and inclusion.

We received an International Association for Contract and Commercial Management finalist nomination for Delivering Social and Economic Benefit, and were awarded the Diversity and Inclusion Award by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply Australia. By supporting our suppliers we help promote opportunities and pathways for all in the development program.


Information on grants awarded by the department during 2018–19 is available at

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