4Managing the AEC

Strategic and business planning

Strategic planning and reporting to government

As a publicly accountable agency, the AEC has a statutory duty to professionally plan and report on its achievements each year, primarily to the Australian Parliament.

Statutory reporting includes the AEC Corporate Plan, Portfolio Budget Statements and (when required) Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements, and the Annual Report.

Corporate Plan

Our inaugural Corporate Plan 2015–19, required by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), was published in August 2015. The Corporate Plan provided a focus for the agency’s work from the start of the 2015–16 financial year. It is the foundation of the agency’s planning and operating framework.

The plan outlines five agency directions:

Portfolio Budget Statements and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements

The purpose of Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) is to inform Senators and Members of Parliament of the proposed allocation of resources within AEC to government outcomes.

As outlined earlier in this report, the AEC has one outcome: ‘Maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services and targeted education and public awareness programs’.

This outcome is delivered via one program – Deliver electoral events – with six areas of performance for 2015–16:

AEC Digital Transformation Plan

During 2015–16 the AEC developed its Digital Transformation Plan as part of the broader whole-of-government Digital Transformation Agenda.

As a customer-focused organisation, the AEC seeks to provide electors with the services they want via the channels they prefer, subject to legislative requirements.

The AEC began its digital transformation journey some time ago. The digital services in place for electors to enrol, check and update their enrolment are now mature and well-used, with around 80 per cent of enrolment-related transactions being conducted online. Feedback from electors has been overwhelmingly positive.

The AEC’s vision for digital transformation, as set out in the AEC Digital Transformation Plan, is for electors to choose the AEC’s digital services because they are accessible, trusted and easy to use. We will achieve this by:

  • designing digital services with a focus on elector experience
  • offering electors digital services first in preference to other channels while continuing to offer alternative channels for as long as electors require them
  • making our digital services meet the accessibility and diversity needs of electors both directly and through partner organisations
  • building organisational capability through communicating this vision internally, and including digital transformation in the AEC’s governance arrangements.

The Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements (PAES) inform Senators, Members of Parliament and the public of changes since the Budget to the proposed allocation of AEC resources to government outcomes. PAESs are only issued if there are changes that the government has agreed to.

Annual Report

The primary purpose of the Annual Report is accountability, to the Parliament in particular. The Annual Report serves to inform Parliament, the public and all stakeholders about the performance of the AEC in relation to activities undertaken, and especially in relation to the activities and directions set out in our Portfolio Budget Statements and Corporate Plan. The Annual Report is also a key reference document and historical record.

Business planning

The work of the AEC is also set out in a comprehensive range of business planning documents, many of which have associated internal monitoring and reporting mechanisms. These documents are listed in Table 17.

Table 17: Business planning documents
Document Purpose Reviewed
Planning, Performance and Reporting Framework Supports staff in planning and delivering outcomes specified in the AEC Corporate Plan, as well as managing resources and finances. Supports numerous sections of the PGPA Act. Progress against key performance indicators is measured and monitored regularly to ensure priorities are met in the timeframes indicated, and within budget. Annually
Branch, and state and territory business plans These plans align branch, and state and territory activities with the Planning Performance and Reporting Framework. Annually
Election Readiness Framework Sets out and monitors the program of activity required to maintain election readiness. Every election cycle
Information Technology Strategic Plan Sets out the AEC’s desired information technology vision to 2020. Supported by the IT Architecture Plan. Annually
Digital Transformation Plan Sets out the AEC’s vision for digital transformation and providing electors with accessible, trusted and easy-to-use digital services. Annually
Fraud Control Plan Provides a tailored solution for preventing, detecting and responding to fraud in accordance with relevant Commonwealth law, fraud control policies and memorandums of understanding. Every two years
Strategic Risk Management Plan Details strategic risks that affect the AEC and specifies how these risks will be managed. Annually
Assurance Plan Outlines assurance activities that target the AEC’s key/high risk business processes. Annually
Internal Audit Plan Sets out the AEC’s internal audit program for the financial year (contained within the Assurance Plan). Annually
Business continuity plans Ensures continuation of identified critical business functions during and following a critical incident that causes disruption to normal operations. Every three years (or sooner in the event of a major restructure)
Disability Inclusion Strategy Identifies target outcomes from the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 relevant to the AEC. 2020
Diversity Strategy Sets out activities to recognise and value diversity in the workplace. Every four years
Reconciliation Action Plan Sets out activities to recognise and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in internal and external arrangements and activities. Every three years
Property Plan Provides 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

IT Strategic Plan maps technology future for AEC

One of the AEC’s key achievements during the year was the development and release of our IT Strategic Plan 2015–2020.

Information technology is a ‘critical enabler’ for the AEC – it underpins the delivery of safe, transparent and efficient modern elections. It can also make engaging with the AEC easier and more convenient for voters and prospective voters.

Some of the innovations in the IT Strategic Plan have already had these effects on our processes:

  • Faster – changes to our major enrolment systems have improved performance. During the close-of-rolls period prior to the 2016 federal election, we at one point handled 33 912 online enrolment forms and 9 805 other enrolments in an hour, consistently averaging 2.5 seconds for an application verification.
  • Easier to use – rationalised and simplified tally room functionality and implemented a new election dashboard providing better near-real-time stats. An essential tool during the close of rolls period.
  • Reliable – we delivered a new component of our processing system for ‘silent’ voters (voters who cannot have their addresses openly available on the electoral roll for security and other reasons). It incorporated the scanning of silent documentation for secure online storage, as well as automated letter generation and processing.
  • Modernised – as set out in the Plan, from mid-November 2015 to March 2016 we rolled out 1 000 new desktops, 500 laptops and associated hardware such as servers, switches, uninterruptible power supply units, and barcode scanners for AEC staff Australia-wide.
  • More efficient and transparent – enabled the scanning of postal votes and Senate ballot papers, and extended the use of electronic certified lists.
  • Safer – successfully implemented an agency-wide desktop infrastructure refresh that introduced a number of security enhancements to the AEC standard operating environment, designed to offer greater protection against cyber security threats.

The AEC IT Strategic Plan continues to 2020. In the immediate future we hope to see the following innovations:

  • web hosting in the cloud
  • better mobile election solutions
  • more modern IT platforms
  • less reliance on legacy systems
  • innovative data solutions.