Annual Report 2014–15

4Governance and compliance

Corporate governance

The AEC’s corporate governance arrangements are the structures and processes the senior leadership utilise to monitor performance, ensure accountability and steer the agency.

Overview

The structures and processes which guide the AEC’s corporate governance are predominantly the executive management structure and a range of management committees which address the key objectives of the agency and the management of resources.

Corporate governance arrangements within the AEC address the agency’s responsibility to be accountable to its stakeholders, including the Australian Parliament and the Australian public.

The Accountability section of this report provides detail of the planning, operating and reporting framework which informs the AEC’s corporate governance performance. This includes a range of planning documents, such as the National Business Plan and Service Charter, in addition to internal audit and fraud control measures.

Leadership and management

The objective of the AEC’s governance structure is to maintain visibility across the agency, encourage focused discussion at the senior executive level and increase information sharing throughout.

The AEC’s corporate governance structure is strongly supported by a range of diverse management committees and four influential discussion forums.

Management committees

The AEC’s governance structure is centred upon a suite of decision-making committees with formal roles, along with discussion forums to encourage open communication and accountability across the agency.

During 2014–15, assurance within the AEC gained an increased focus as the agency worked to re-establish its reputation. Assurance activities were addressed by a number of management committees, including the Business Assurance Committee, Fraud Control Committee and the Operational Compliance Group.

Executive Leadership Team

The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) is the senior management team that assists the Electoral Commissioner in the day-to-day and long-term management of the AEC. The team, comprised of the Electoral Commissioner, Deputy Electoral Commissioner and two First Assistant Commissioners, meet regularly to discuss operational and strategic issues.

Strategic Directions Group

The Strategic Directions Group (SDG) provides advice to the Electoral Commissioner on strategic planning and the long-term, strategic direction of the agency.

The SDG reviews and considers long-term environmental scanning and provides advice on any relevant plans. The SDG also considers reports from the Operational Compliance Group on issues and risks that may have a strategic impact on the agency.

Operational Compliance Group

The Operational Compliance Group (OCG) monitors the ongoing operations of the agency, providing advice to the SDG and ELT where necessary. It monitors and drives forward progress against key performance indicators, compliance benchmarks and assurance frameworks.

Project Board

The Project Board works to support business outcomes for the AEC. The Project Board assesses new project proposals and advises the ELT on projects happening across the agency, as well as monitoring and reporting on the progress of projects. The ELT endorses, suggests changes to or rejects new project proposals, based on advice from the Project Board. The Project Board also reports to the SDG and OCG as appropriate.

Business Assurance Committee

The Business Assurance Committee (BAC) provides independent advice on the AEC’s internal audit resourcing, coverage in relation to key risks, approval of the Internal Audit Program. The BAC held five meetings in 2014–15.

The new rules for the operation of audit committees and fraud control under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, which commenced on 1 July 2014, were incorporated into the Business Assurance Committee Charter and Protocols during the year.

The Accountability section of this report (risk management and business continuity) addresses the development and implementation of the 2014–15 Assurance Plan.

Fraud Control Committee

The Fraud Control Committee (FCC), a sub-committee of the BAC, advises the BAC on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the AEC’s fraud control plans, policies and procedures.

The FCC held four meetings in 2014–15 and provided fraud control reports to the BAC.

National Election Delivery Committee

The National Election Delivery Committee (NEDC) is responsible for supporting the National Election Manager (NEM) and providing national oversight of the agency’s election planning, preparation, delivery and coordination of activities in line with the Election Ready Road Map (ERRM).

The First Assistant Commissioner, Election Operations and Reform, Mr Pablo Carpay also assumes the role of the NEM. The NEM provides regular reporting on behalf of the NEDC to the OCG and to the ELT.

Change Governance Board

The Change Governance Board was established to oversee key projects that represent major change initiatives the AEC is planning to implement at the next federal election. The Change Governance Board is also responsible for monitoring other significant organisational change matters as required by the Electoral Commissioner.

The Board provides advice to the OCG, NEDC, SDG and BAC on projects within its remit, highlighting risks and issues as required.

Work health and safety committees

The National Work Health and Safety Committee meets every quarter, with out-of-session meetings held as required to address specific work, health and safety matters. Quarterly meetings are attended by the Chair, management representatives, employee representatives and advisors from the People Services Branch (Health, Safety and Wellbeing team).

Work health and safety committees also meet on a quarterly basis in all states and territories.

Discussion forums

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 which 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.

Senior Executive Forum

The senior executives in the AEC have an integral role in implementing key strategic directions in an effective and consistent manner. The Senior Executive (SE) Forum provides a mechanism for achieving common understanding of, and commitment to, key issues at the agency level.

The SE Forum ensures that all senior executives (branch heads and state/territory managers) are across new, emerging issues and general issues, with a focus on information sharing and clarification of the AEC’s approach to various agency-wide issues rather than any formal input to policy and procedural directions.

The SE Forum also provides a linkage between organisational priority setting, decision-making and implementation at branch and state office level.

The SE Forum aims to meet most months of the year via teleconference, with one face-to-face meeting each year.

Director Operations Network

Since its establishment in 2007, the Director Operations Network has evolved to work closely with many National Office branches and program areas to promote national consistency in the implementation of AEC policies and procedures. Members of the network also inform the NEDC of potential challenges to implementation, particularly operational and strategic issues.

The network is also an effective conduit for informing divisional and state office staff of the agency’s focus areas and key operational issues. It meets a minimum of six times a year, with at least one meeting held face-to-face (the remainder via teleconference or video conference).

Operations Managers’ Network

The Operations Managers’ Network has encouraged the participation of operations managers in cultural and operational transformation. Its key objective is to facilitate increased collaboration, consistency and compliance to underpin increased quality, effectiveness and integrity of the AEC’s operations.