4Managing the AEC
Governance, ethics and staff consultation
The AEC’s corporate governance arrangements are the structures and processes the senior leadership uses to monitor performance, ensure accountability and steer the agency. These structures and processes predominantly consist of the executive management structure (see Chapter 2) and a range of decision-making management committees, supported by four influential discussion forums.
Corporate governance at the AEC is underpinned by strong ethical standards, and regular consultation with staff on decisions that affect them.
Assurance activities were a focus of several management committees during 2015–16 as the agency worked to re-establish its reputation – but particularly the Business Assurance Committee, Fraud Control Committee and the Operational Compliance Group.
|Committee name||Function||Members||Meeting frequency|
|Executive Leadership Team (ELT)||Senior management team assisting the Electoral Commissioner in day-to-day and long-term management of the AEC.||Electoral Commissioner, Deputy Electoral Commissioner, three First Assistant Commissioners, State Manager Victoria||Weekly|
|Strategic Directions Group (SDG)||Provides advice to the Electoral Commissioner on strategic planning, long-term strategic direction and the DLER.||Electoral Commissioner, First Assistant Commissioner (FAC) Network Operations, FAC Electoral Operations and Reform, FAC Capability, Assistant Commissioner (AC) Information Technology, State Manager Victoria.||Regularly – usually bi-monthly|
|Reviews and considers long-term environmental scanning.|
|Considers reports from Operational Compliance Group on issues and risks with potential strategic impact on the agency.|
|Operational Compliance Group (OCG)||Monitors and drives progress against key performance indicators, compliance benchmarks and assurance frameworks.||Deputy Electoral Commissioner, FAC Capability, AC Disclosure, Engagement and Assurance, AC Education and Communications, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Legal Officer, State Manager Western Australia, State Manager South Australia.||Monthly|
|Provides advice to SDG and ELT as necessary.|
|Project Board||Assesses new project proposals and advises ELT on project progress. ELT endorses, suggests changes to, or rejects new project proposals, based on advice from the Project Board. Project Board also reports to SDG and OCG as appropriate.||FAC Network Operations, Chief Finance Officer, AC Roll Management, AC Election Reform/Election Planning, Systems and Services, AC Disclosure, Assurance and Engagement, State Manager Tasmania.||Monthly|
|Business Assurance Committee (BAC)||Provides independent advice on the AEC’s internal audit resourcing, and coverage in relation to key risks. Approves the internal audit program.||At least three external independent members appointed by Electoral Commissioner, Deputy Electoral Commissioner, State Manager Victoria, and three advisers in 2015–16.||Quarterly|
|Oversees operation of audit committees and fraud control under the PGPA Act.|
|Fraud Control Committee (FCC)||Sub-committee of the BAC. Advises BAC on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the AEC’s fraud control plans, policies and procedures.||State Manager Victoria, FAC Electoral Operations and Reform, State Manager Western Australia, Territory Manager Northern Territory, Chief Legal Officer (observer), Chief Finance Officer (observer).||Quarterly|
National Election Delivery Committee (NEDC)
|Supports the National Election Manager (NEM) in national oversight of the agency’s election planning, preparation, delivery and coordination of activities, as set out in the Election Ready Road Map (ERRM).||
NEM, state and territory managers, and other senior executive staff of AEC (membership expands as election approaches).
Regularly; varies from monthly and fortnightly to weekly or daily in run-up to an election
|The NEM reports regularly on behalf of NEDC to OCG and ELT.|
|Work health and safety (WHS) committees||National and state and territory WHS committees represent workers in WHS matters as well as monitoring, inspecting and inquiring into all aspects of work health and safety.||Chair, management representatives, employee representatives and advisers from People Services Branch.||Quarterly, with out-of-session meetings as required.|
With management and employees distributed across all states and territories, it is important to maintain effective internal communication to ensure agency cohesion. This is achieved at three levels of agency management via four discussion forums that incorporate the participation and feedback of senior executives and managers. These forums have been designed to facilitate information-sharing and links across the AEC’s national network.
|Forum name||Function||Members||Meeting frequency|
Senior Executive Forum
|Achieving common understanding of key agency issues among all senior executives.||
Electoral Commissioner, Deputy Electoral Commissioner, all First Assistant Commissioners and branch heads, all state and territory managers.
Monthly via teleconference, with at least one face-to-face meeting each year.
|Focus is on information sharing and clarification of the AEC’s approach.|
|Also provides links between priority-setting and decision-making at executive level, with implementation at branch and state level.|
Director Operations Network
|Works closely with many National Office branches and program areas to promote national consistency in the implementation of AEC policies and procedures.||
All Directors of Operations.
Six times a year, mostly via teleconference or video conference, with at least one face-to-face meeting.
|Informs the NEDC of potential challenges to implementation, particularly operational and strategic issues.|
Operations Managers Network
|Encourages participation of operations managers in cultural and operational transformation.||
FAC Election Operations and Reform, and operations managers from all states and territories.
Two to five times a year, as required.
|Facilitates increased collaboration, consistency and compliance across state and territory operations and the broader agency.|
National Office Directors Network
|Enables Directors in National Office to collectively influence AEC strategy and operations, put forward new ideas and opportunities, and raise any unrecognised operational risks.||
FAC Capability; all Directors (EL2 level officers) working in National Office, Canberra.
|Also promotes engagement with other governance entities and improves relationships across the AEC.|
The AEC’s ethical standards are implicit in:
- AEC values and commitments
- the AEC’s strategic planning framework
- AEC staff conduct policies (e.g. political neutrality, attendance, dress code, conflict of interest)
- the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct (reinforced in the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014).
The AEC’s core values and commitments of electoral integrity through quality, agility and professionalism inform both strategic planning and day-to-day operations.
More information on AEC values is provided in Chapter 2, ‘About the AEC’.
Electoral integrity is a particularly important aspect of the AEC’s ethical standards, in accord with our focus on understanding and responding to the expectations of the public and the Australian Parliament.
The AEC considers effective communication with staff as crucial to the achievement of its objectives. As a result, it manages a number of initiatives to ensure that employees’ views and opinions are heard on decisions that affect them.
As established in the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2011–14, national and state consultative forums support open communication and consultation. Elections are held to select employee representatives, who may self-nominate to participate.
The AEC Consultative Forum (ACF) is the national consultative body. Membership includes:
- management representation
- employee representation
- Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) representation.
The responsibilities of the ACF include:
- improving communication between employees and AEC management
- providing an opportunity for open, honest and effective communication on matters concerning the AEC nationally
- reporting to the Executive Leadership Team as necessary.
Enterprise agreement negotiations
In 2015–16, significant consultation was undertaken with staff as part of the negotiation of a new enterprise agreement. Negotiations involved employer, employee and union representatives. All negotiations were conducted in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015. On 9 May 2016 both Houses of Parliament were dissolved and the caretaker period began. The AEC deferred voting on the enterprise agreement following advice from the Australian Public Service Commission.
State of the Service survey
The AEC’s Australian Public Service (APS) employees are invited to participate in the annual State of the Service survey conducted by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC). In 2016 the survey was conducted over a one-month period during May and June 2016.
The AEC’s response rate in 2016 was 49 per cent, which is below the APSC’s organisational target response rate of 65 per cent, and a decline from last year’s agency response rate of 76 per cent. This decline was possibly due to the survey occurring partly within the 2016 federal election period, a time when employees had a heightened workload.
Each year, senior management reviews the confidential results to find out what is working well across the agency and to take action in areas that require improvement.
Other internal consultation
Other initiatives used by the AEC for staff consultation include internal surveys, workshops, dedicated email addresses for specific queries, and online discussion forums. The intranet is the AEC’s key internal communications tool and is continuously improved through analysis of usage patterns and user experiences.