Corporate governance

Our approach to governance enables us to deliver outcomes effectively and achieve high levels of performance in a manner consistent with applicable legal and policy obligations.

The Executive Board is the decision-making body for the department. Membership consists of the Secretary, associate and deputy secretaries, Chief Finance Officer and group manager representatives from each cluster. Group manager members will occupy a position on the Board for a period of 12 months. Group manager membership operates on rotation and will be reviewed annually.

The Executive Board facilitates work across the department to achieve corporate objectives and promotes the core principles of good public sector governance—accountability, transparency, integrity, stewardship, efficiency, leadership and risk management.

The Departmental Network Meeting is an information sharing, consultative forum between the Executive Board and the department’s senior executive staff. The Departmental Network Meeting provides input to strategic and policy matters across the department.

The Executive Board is supported by six departmental committees:

  • the Audit Committee
  • the Risk and Implementation Committee
  • the Information Technology Committee
  • the Strategy and Impact Committee
  • the People and Culture Committee
  • the Deregulation Committee.

The committees meet on either a monthly or bi-monthly basis and assist with broader departmental reporting processes, develop new ideas and provide forums for consultation. The committees report regularly to the Executive Board and each is chaired by an associate or deputy secretary.

Our Strategic Plan

The Department of Education Strategic Plan 2014–2017 was launched in July 2014. Development of the plan, through consultation with our people, provided an exciting opportunity to consider who we are, what we do and why we do it.

The plan sets out our vision—opportunity through learning—and our department’s goals, which reflect the Australian Government’s priorities. An important component of the plan is our commitment to improving education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The plan also describes our pathways, values and culture and highlights how we support our people, stakeholders and clients. The plan is available on the department’s website.

Business planning

Business plans are developed annually and outline a formal statement of goals and how they will be achieved. The plans align with the vision and goals set out in the strategic plan, which in turn are linked to individual performance and development plans. Plans are updated as needed to reflect any changes in priorities and are reviewed biannually.

Risk management

Following the Machinery of Government changes, the department’s risk management policy was endorsed by the Risk and Implementation Committee, the Departmental Network Meeting and the Executive Board on 3 March 2014. The risk management policy and framework describe our approach to managing risks at all levels of the organisation. The framework promotes risk management as an integral component of core business delivery and good governance. Supported by the Executive, it encourages all employees to manage risk as part of their everyday responsibilities.

The framework commits the department to identifying, treating and monitoring risks related to potential threats, harm, losses, failures and opportunities in the implementation and management of Government programmes. Information is reported to members of the Executive and governance committees to guide the management of risk at the strategic level. As required under the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2011, relevant risk plans contain at least one identified fraud risk.

RiskActive is the department’s enterprise-wide risk management system and provides a central repository for all risk plans. It supports the framework by ensuring that risk management processes are integrated across all levels of the department. In 2012–13 an online learning module was developed to support the use of RiskActive and in 2014 a learning module on risk essentials was developed to assist people in gaining a general understanding of the concepts of risk management. In conjunction with these tools, workshops were run with business areas to identify specific risks and assist employees to consider all aspects of risk management. During 2013–14 more than 1000 employees attended training, received advice through the hotline or email, participated in workshops and risk discussions or completed the RiskActive or Risk Essentials online training modules.

The results of the Comcover benchmarking survey undertaken in early 2014 saw the department continue to improve on its previous benchmarking results, achieving a rating of ‘structured’ for its approach to risk management, the second highest rating that can be achieved.

Oversight of departmental risk is the responsibility of the Risk and Implementation Committee, which first met in February 2014. The committee is responsible for monitoring risk practices in the department and facilitates discussions on risk with the Departmental Network Meeting and the Executive Board.

Fraud control

As required by the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines and the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the department has a fraud control plan as well as other guidelines and policies that underpin fraud control. Collectively these documents establish the framework for the management of fraud risks and the conduct of investigations.

During 2013–14 the department promoted fraud awareness and managed fraud risks by:

  • providing face-to-face fraud awareness training to employees
  • providing an interactive online fraud awareness training package for employees
  • maintaining a suite of fraud control guidance documents for all employees
  • requiring employees to consider fraud risks as an integral part of risk management
  • developing a new Department of Education Fraud Control Plan
  • providing advice to programme and policy areas on fraud risk analysis and management
  • investigating instances of possible fraud in accordance with the Australian Government Investigation Standards and the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.