Strategic plan

The AEC Strategic Plan 2009–2014 sets out the themes for the AEC’s work programs and performance:

  • modernisation of products and services, and the organisation
  • collaboration with stakeholders
  • investing in our people.

The strategic plan provides the focus for activities, both business as usual and change programs, and is at the centre of the AEC’s planning and operating framework.

The AEC is currently developing the next strategic plan 2015–2020. The Executive Leadership Team and the full Electoral Commission attended a ‘navigation meeting’ to consider domestic and international trends in electoral participation. The purpose was to ensure the strategic plan recognises current and emerging electoral challenges and the AEC’s capacity to address them.

In 2012–13, a review of priority activities, against strategic objectives and obligations, demonstrated the AEC’s preparedness for both a federal election and referendum. The result was a more focused National Business Plan for 2013–14.

Corporate and business planning documents complement the strategic plan. They address specific operational or functional requirements, as shown in Table 9.

Figure 6: Planning operating and reporting framework

 Planning operating and reporting framework diagram

Balanced scorecard

The AEC uses a monthly balanced scorecard report to senior management, which provides financial and statistical information, such as budgets and expenditure, staffing, and enrolment numbers. This information relates to targets or outcomes in business plans.

In 2012–13, the EMG initiated a review of the balanced scorecard to ensure its value in reporting performance, identifying issues and determining remedial action. While the review is underway, compilation of the balanced scorecard will continue.

Internal audit

The 2012–13, Internal Audit Plan provided assurance and highlighted areas for improvement across key frameworks, programs and practices. This ensured compliance with relevant legislation and policies. There were audit reviews in various corporate and IT functions, high risk and new business activities.

A major initiative was a comprehensive review of the implementation of audit recommendations from 2003 to 2011. Particular emphasis was on a select number of significant audit recommendations, rated potential high risk, including the conduct of the 2013 federal election.

The AEC continued to outsource audit reviews to KPMG.

Table 9: Corporate and business planning documents
Type of document Purpose Reviewed
National business plan Provides high level guidance on the strategic priorities for the year Annually
Business continuity plans Ensures the continuation of identified critical business functions during and following any critical incident that results in disruption to normal operations Every three years (or sooner in the event of a major restructure)
Corporate fraud control plan Details the AEC’s approach to corporate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting and outlines AEC procedures and strategies for managing activities that may be more susceptible to corporate fraud and corruption Every two years
Electoral fraud control plan Identifies electoral fraud risks and allocates responsibility for the treatment of any electoral fraud risks Every two years
Election preparation plan Sets out and monitors the program of activity required to maintain election readiness Every election cycle
Strategic risk management plan Details strategic risks that affect the whole of the agency and specifies how these risks will be managed Annually
Internal audit plan Sets out the program of conformance and performance audits for the financial year Annually
Disability inclusion strategy Identifies the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 target outcomes relevant for the AEC 2020
Health and safety action plan Sets out activities to underpin health and safety management arrangements Every three years
Workplace diversity plan Sets out activities to recognise and value individual differences in the workplace Every four years1
Reconciliation action plan Sets out activities to recognise and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people Every three years
Property plan Direction for long-term management of leased property Annually
Security plan Sets out strategies to protect staff, visitors, information, equipment and premises against harm, loss, interference and compromise Bi-annually
Agency multicultural plan Sets out engagement activities and access and equity policy Every three years. Commences 2013–14
  1. A new workplace diversity plan is being drafted.

Risk management and business continuity

The AEC continues to strengthen risk management and business continuity practices. It participates in the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey.

In 2012–13, the AEC’s risk management score has improved from 6.0 in 2011–12 to 6.4 (out of 10).

In particular, there was a sharp increase in the maturity of the ‘Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery’ capability following significant work and resourcing of business continuity management in 2012–13.

The Electoral Commissioner endorsed a revised risk management framework in February 2013 to better integrate risk management into the AEC’s operations. The improved risk management policy included the requirement for all programs, branches and major projects to develop formal risk management plans, with a quarterly review cycle. The Electoral Commissioner also endorsed the AEC’s first Risk Management Chief Executive Instructions.

In June 2013, the Electoral Commissioner endorsed the AEC 2013–14 Strategic Risk Management Plan, detailing whole-of-agency risks. The plan takes into account factors that include new enrolment processes, the tight budget position in the Australian Public Service and considerable focus on the AEC’s administration of the funding and disclosure function.

New enterprise risk register

A new enterprise risk register provides a central point for staff to record, access and manage risks. A central risk register supports a more structured and accessible process for risk management, and aims to encourage and facilitate timely identification and resolution or mitigation of risks with targeted communication to key stakeholders.

The purpose of the risk register is to facilitate quarterly enterprise-wide risk profiles and reports in 2013–14.

Business continuity planning

During the year, the AEC developed and approved business continuity plans, including:

  • ballot paper production
  • certified list production
  • postal vote issuing
  • election results
  • contact centre
  • election employment
  • contact centre
  • National Electoral Education Centre
  • internal communication
  • industrial and commercial elections (NSW)
  • fee-for-service (Vic)
  • comprehensive testing as part of the IT Disaster Recovery Plan.

These plans help to ensure continuity of critical operations in the event of major disruption.

In 2013–14, the AEC will test business continuity and incident management plans.


Revised FCC terms of reference reflect its review function and advisory role to the BAC. This required an adjustment in the way the AEC manages suspected fraud allegations with the introduction of the new fraud response procedures. The AEC now has a consolidated process for handling fraud allegations, corporate and electoral, that ensures the AEC can respond to fraud allegations in accordance with relevant Commonwealth law, fraud control policies, investigation standards and better practice.

There was a review of the corporate and electoral fraud control plans, which noted the outcomes from the respective fraud risk assessments and mitigation strategies to address them. Further review is underway to combine the plans into one fraud control plan to ensure consistency in approach.

Mandatory e-learning fraud awareness training modules and fraud control information on the intranet emphasises the roles and responsibilities of all staff.

Compliance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines 2002 is in the letter of transmittal.

Customer enquiries, issues and complaints

The AEC receives enquiries and feedback from the public and other stakeholders via telephone, email, social media, facsimile, post and in person.

During 2012–13, the AEC received more than 340 000 phone calls to the general enquiry phone number (13 23 26). This service directs calls to the caller’s nearest divisional office.

To improve service for callers ringing from overseas, a dedicated telephone number was established in November (+61 2 6273 8606). Overseas callers get pre-recorded messages. If the message does not resolve a caller’s enquiry, redirection occurs to the electoral division based on the caller entering the postcode of their enrolled Australian address. During a federal electoral event, the call will go to the election call centre as a priority call.

The AEC’s enquiries mailbox received more than 26 000 emails, up from 17 000 in 2011–12. More than 10 700 enquiries were about enrolment and change of enrolment details, 12 000 emails related to overseas voters, the remainder were general enquiries.

The AEC has a new public enquiries reporting tool to improve service for the public and support staff dealing with enquiries. The reporting tool captures volumes, and the nature of enquiries and complaints.

VITS LanguageLink (VITS) provided dedicated language-specific telephone interpreter information lines for 16 languages and a multi-language information line. VITS handled approximately 1 300 calls in 2012–13, of which 1 046 callers used the interpreter service to speak to AEC staff. The three top languages used were Mandarin (386 calls), Cantonese (213 calls) and Vietnamese (137).

The National Relay Service is available for callers who have a hearing or speech impairment.

Ethical standards

In accordance with proposed Public Service Act 1999 amendments, the AEC is updating all policies, guidelines and e-learning material in response to recommendations from the Advisory Group on the Reform of Australian Government Administration. The cornerstone is the AEC’s values, outlined in the AEC Strategic Plan and reinforced by the APS Values, Code of Conduct and the Australian Public Service Commission’s REFLECT decision-making model.

The AEC Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014 highlights a commitment to the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

The AEC actively promotes the Australian Public Service Commission’s Ethics Advisory Service so staff can discuss, seek advice and make sound decisions on ethical issues in the workplace.

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