AEC Annual Report 2016–17
Contents

Managing resources, assets and procurement

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The AEC manages a diverse portfolio of resources and assets throughout offices at the national, state/territory and divisional level. These include human resources, for example the agency’s regular and casual workforce, as well as physical assets like office equipment, and information assets such as technology services.

In managing its assets, the AEC also manages a range of procurement activities, including tenders, consultancies and contracts. About 64 per cent of procurement contracts are held with small and medium enterprises.

The AEC also manages its resources and assets in a sustainable manner that adheres to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 by minimising impact to the environment, reducing waste and conserving energy use.

Human resources

AEC employees are located throughout Australia in a network of divisional, state and territory offices, including a national office in Canberra.

As at 30 June 2017, the AEC had a regular workforce of 837 employees and a casual workforce of 783 irregular or intermittent employees.

Recruiting, developing and retaining a professional and capable workforce is a key linchpin for our agency. The AEC aims to entrench a culture of quality, agility and professionalism to support electoral integrity. This is achieved through helping employees develop core skills, and providing capability training and the necessary tools for staff to become more adaptive to change by being flexible and innovative when facing an uncertain and demand-driven environment.

Working arrangements

AEC enterprise agreement

The AEC Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019 covers most AEC staff. Salary ranges for each classification are published in the agreement, which is available on the AEC website. The agreement took effect on 6 December 2016, replacing the AEC’s Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014.

Section 24(1) determinations

In 2016–17, the terms and conditions of employment of eight employees, predominantly senior executive service and executive level officers, were set by individual determinations by the agency head (the Electoral Commissioner) under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Collective determination under the Commonwealth Electoral Act

The AEC has a collective determination for staff engaged under section 35(1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. This covers temporary staff, such as polling officials, for the election period only and sets the terms and conditions, hourly rates of pay and other entitlements.

These terms and conditions are set by the Electoral Commissioner under section 35 of the Electoral Act. Updates to the collective determination are currently being considered in preparation for its use at the next federal election.

Individual flexibility arrangements

To meet the needs of the AEC, the Electoral Commissioner may agree to individual flexibility arrangements with employees, which can vary the effect of any of the terms of the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019.

During 2016–17, the Commissioner agreed to 29 new individual flexibility arrangements. The majority of these reflected the ongoing need to recognise the particular requirements of both the individuals and the AEC. As at 30 June 2017, 26 individual flexibility arrangements were still active.

Employee non-salary benefits

AEC staff receive a range of non-salary benefits, consisting of leave arrangements, provision for separation and redundancy benefits, plus superannuation. This information is listed in the Notes to the Financial Statements section of this report.

Senior executive remuneration and statutory appointments

The Remuneration Tribunal determines the remuneration of the Electoral Commissioner under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.

Other statutory appointees are part of the principal executive officer structure under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973. The Electoral Commissioner determines the remuneration and conditions afforded to these appointees, within parameters set by the tribunal. Details of executive remuneration are published on the AEC website.

Performance management

The AEC Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019 requires all employees engaged under section 22(2) of the Public Service Act 1999 to participate in the AEC’s Performance Management Program.

Effective performance management in the AEC is a mechanism for:

  • aligning employee performance with organisational requirements
  • providing regular, constructive feedback to employees
  • clearly articulating and managing expectations
  • identifying developmental needs.

Eligible employees who meet the requirements set in the Performance Management Program will receive salary advancement.

Performance pay

The AEC does not offer performance bonuses.

AEC workforce statistics

As at 30 June 2017, the AEC workforce consisted of:

  • a regular workforce of 831 ongoing and non-ongoing APS employees and six employees engaged under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (statutory office holders)
  • a casual workforce of 783 irregular or intermittent employees.

Regular workforce

The AEC’s regular workforce is spread across the AEC network of national, state, territory and divisional offices.

A range of tables and figures provide specific workforce information within this section of the report. Percentages of male and female staff, from 2013–14 to 2016–17, are shown in Figure 7. The age profile of AEC employees is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 7: AEC regular workforce by gender, 2013–14 to 2016–17

There are currently no staff recorded as Gender X.

Figure 8: AEC regular workforce by age group as at 30 June 2017

Most staff in the AEC are female, with an increase from 64.6 per cent in 2015–16 to 68.8 per cent in 2016–17.

The largest segment of the AEC’s regular workforce is in the range of 50 years to less than 55 years of age. The average age of the regular workforce has decreased slightly in the last 12 months, from 47.8 years down to 47.3 years.

Table 19: AEC regular workforce profile as at 30 June 2017
AEC workforce segment Workforce statistic

Full-time

80.6%

Linguistically diverse background

7.2%

Female

68.8%

Average age

47.3 years

45 years and over

60.9%

Staff turnover

12.9%

Average length of service for ongoing staff

8.5 years

Irregular or intermittent employees

At 30 June 2017, the AEC had an available casual workforce of 783 irregular or intermittent staff. Employed mostly at the APS 1 level, the casual employees were largely working in divisional offices. A breakdown of this workforce is provided in Table 20.

Table 20: Irregular or intermittent employees by classification
Classification Number of employees

APS 1

763

APS 2

1

APS 3

1

APS 4

10

APS 5

1

APS 6

6

EL 1

1

Total

783

APS = Australian Public Service, EL = Executive Level Election workforce

Election workforce

During elections, the AEC employs thousands of temporary staff as polling officials under section 35 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. In 2016–17, the AEC employed 74,893 temporary staff to conduct the 2016 federal election. Of these, 9,272 people worked in more than one position. The number of positions increased by 7.05 per cent compared to the 2013 federal election, to a total of 86,938 at the 2016 election.

Indigenous employees

In 2016–17, 2.4 per cent of the regular AEC workforce self-identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. A number of action items have been completed in the year to increase the focus on Indigenous employment in conjunction with the Reconciliation Action Plan.

The AEC is also committed to increasing the numbers of Indigenous polling place staff at elections.

Indigenous election workforce

For the 2016 federal election, the AEC employed 1,364 staff who had identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This was a small increase from the 2013 election (1,340 staff), which was more than double the 2010 election (599 staff).

Figure 9 provides further information on AEC staff who self-identify as culturally and linguistically diverse, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Figure 9: AEC regular workforce by diversity, 2013–14 to 2016–17

Diversity and inclusion framework

The AEC embraces diversity and inclusion. There is a strong connection between diverse workforces and improved policy and program productivity, performance and resilience.

The AEC is currently developing a renewed approach to diversity and inclusion. This will include our current disability strategy, and reconciliation action plan, as well as continued support of flexible working arrangements, carer’s responsibilities and ability to undertake higher education under the AEC’s enterprise agreement. It will also increase awareness of gender equality, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer/questioning community, and people from non-English speaking, and other diverse backgrounds.

Disability reporting

As disability reporting to the Council of Australian Governments now occurs through the National Disability Strategy, within the State of the Service report, the specific requirement for disability reporting in individual Commonwealth agency annual reports has been discontinued. The State of the Service report is available at www.apsc.gov.au.

The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, their families and carers. A high-level, two-yearly report now tracks progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy, and is available at www.dss.gov.au.

Recruitment and employee retention

We continue to review and optimise relevant recruitment guidelines, processes and procedures.

Job advertising

The AEC’s total advertised vacancies (ongoing and non-ongoing positions) has reduced from 178 in 2015–16 to 91 in 2016–17. This is because of a decrease in staffed positions following the 2016 federal election, and the increased emphasis on managing internal mobility to fill vacant positions.

Graduate program

The AEC recruited five graduates to participate in the 2016 Graduate Program; three generalist graduates and two IT graduates. All five employees successfully completed the program. The graduates participated in the 2016 Australian Public Service Commission Graduate Development Program. As a team, they developed a project report for the APSC that was highly commended and were finalists for their digital media clip.

The AEC did not run the Graduate Program in 2017 but has committed to running a graduate intake for 2018.

Retention rate

The AEC’s retention rate for ongoing staff in 2016–17 was 88.1 per cent, an increase from 85.6 per cent in 2015–16. The AEC’s ongoing employee retention rate fluctuates each year but on average is around 90 per cent.

Support of the Carer Recognition Act

The AEC does not have any obligations under the Carer Recognition Act 2010, as the agency is not defined in the Public Service Act 1999 as being responsible for the development, implementation, provision or evaluation of policies, programs or services directed to carers or the persons for whom they care.

As a public service agency, however, the AEC does support employees with caring responsibilities as outlined in the Carer Recognition Act 2010. Employees are eligible for Paid Personal Leave (Carer’s), under Clause 66.4 of the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019, to provide care or support to those they are responsible for in the case of personal illness, injury or unexpected emergency.

Learning and development

The AEC provides staff with access to learning and development opportunities that aim to build and maintain a professional and agile workforce able to deliver consistently high-quality outcomes.

On 1 February 2017, the AEC introduced a new approach to mandatory training, with all new and existing APS employees (ongoing, non-ongoing, casuals and contractors) required to complete five mandatory eLearning modules via the Learning Management System by 1 May 2017. The selected eLearning modules provided employees with training appropriate and relative to their roles, as well as to the deliverables of the agency, and assisted the AEC in meeting employer and employee legislative requirements.

The AEC also implemented changes to strengthen the governance and coordination of learning and development within the agency under the direction of the Deputy Electoral Commissioner, and through establishing a Learning Governance Committee.

Workforce planning

In the AEC, workforce planning is an important element of delivering electoral events as it provides a basis for determining requirements, and anticipating and responding to challenges around attraction and recruitment. The agency undertakes workforce planning in three layers. The first two layers focus on the business operations in the divisional office workforce plans, and branch and state office workforce plans. These two layers are used to inform the third layer: the national strategy.

The AEC continues to build and embed consistent workforce planning methodology across all levels. While previous phases of workforce planning formalised the connection between divisional, state and national office workforce planning risks and strategies, the next phase involves redesigning current workforce planning processes and ongoing work to cement these processes with business planning and operational planning activities across the agency.

Key activities included:

  • undertaking an evaluation of end-to-end workforce planning processes after the 2016 federal election
  • working with the various networks to refine and re-develop workforce planning processes at all levels
  • providing continued support for completing divisional, and state and territory workforce plans.

New HR metrics reporting

In late 2016, the AEC developed an HR Scorecard as a focus on core workforce characteristics, and this is presented to senior management each month.

HR reporting is a critical part of workforce analysis for the AEC as it helps the agency identify and understand workforce performance and risks. The HR Scorecard assists senior management monitor relevant workforce data, and identify workforce risks before they arise.

It also allows senior management to consider trends over time and plan appropriate workforce management strategies.

Work health and safety

The AEC recognises its responsibility to positively influence the work health and safety (WHS) of employees, and to provide a safe environment for members of the public who enter AEC premises, including leased premises used as polling places during an electoral event.

WHS outcomes

The AEC complies with its obligations under both the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 by ensuring there are appropriate systems that actively monitor, evaluate and maintain health, safety and welfare across all aspects of business. Table 21 provides a summary of ongoing AEC workplace health and safety outcomes during the year.

Table 21: Work health and safety summary 2016–17
Work health safety information AEC outcomes

Initiatives taken during the year to ensure the health, safety and welfare of workers

Continued enhancement of the AEC WHS management system.

Health and safety outcomes achieved as a result of the initiatives

Continued development of the WHS management arrangement structure. This provided a greater level of employee consultation and representation through an increased health and safety representative network, and revised work group structure.

Notifiable incidents

During 2016–17, eight incidents were reported to Comcare. Five were notifiable for serious injury or illness, and three notifiable for a dangerous occurrence.

Investigations conducted by the AEC

Three investigations were conducted during 2016–17.

Comcare investigations

One Comcare investigation was undertaken, and no improvement notices issued to the AEC.

Health and safety events reported

In all, 104 health and safety incidents were reported, compared with 160 for the previous year. An increase in incident reporting occurred in the lead-up to the 2016 federal election.

Number of liaison inspections

Nil.

Table 22: New claims for compensable and non-compensable injuries
Case management type 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17

Compensable

17

14

14

23

Non-compensable

32

19

41

42

Total

49

33

55

65

Claims management

The AEC’s management of injury and illness claims during the year consisted of:

  • 23 new cases for compensation (of which 22 were accepted by Comcare)
  • 38 continuing cases for compensation
  • 42 new cases of non-compensable injuries/illness
  • 12 continuing cases of non-compensable injuries/illness.

Health and wellbeing programs

The AEC encourages its employees to pursue healthy lifestyles with the following range of elective health and wellbeing programs:

  • the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • annual influenza vaccinations
  • quit smoking programs
  • workstation assessments and provision of recommended ergonomic equipment
  • eyesight testing reimbursements.

The EAP provides free, confidential support services that address a range of health and wellbeing issues. In 2016–17, the EAP utilisation rate for new AEC referrals was 6.6 per cent.

Physical assets

The physical assets of the AEC include equipment located at offices throughout Australia. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, machines, equipment and office fit-outs are managed on an ‘end of life’ or ‘end of lease’ schedule. Comprehensive service and maintenance agreements are used where they represent value for money, to ensure all assets are fully functional and perform at optimal levels.

Moving to the cloud

During 2016–17, the AEC successfully transitioned its web hosted systems from a physical presence to cloud-hosted infrastructure with Amazon Web Services.

AEC web-hosted systems are now in the cloud
AEC web-hosted systems are now in the cloud

Cloud-based services are becoming the infrastructure of choice for many organisations; the flexibility and scalability built into these solutions are of particular benefit to the AEC, where electoral events can be run within short timeframes and scaled up and down depending on demand for election services.

The AEC’s investment in cloud computing ensures reliable disaster recovery and backup solutions. It also ensures regular system updates to meet IT security requirements, and improves system performance and reliability.

Office fit-outs

In 2016–17, one office fit-out was completed and two began. The Tasmanian state office was relocated within Hobart, and the Division of Riverina (Wagga Wagga, NSW) and the Division of Mallee (Mildura, Vic.) each commenced a fit-out, to be completed in July 2017.

Information assets

ICT technical support services and infrastructure are integral to the AEC’s activities, and are provided through a combination of in-house and external resources.

The AEC provides many services in and out of an election period. Some of these include:

  • the Tally Room – live results at election time
  • media feed – live election results for consumption by the media
  • polling place locator
  • AEC employment – AEC’s online recruitment system for staffing an election
  • check my enrolment
  • online enrolment and change of enrolment details
  • Get Voting educational resource for school elections
  • eReturns – portal used by political parties and associated entities for election funding and financial disclosure obligations.

ICT infrastructure management – refresh of key infrastructure

To enable the AEC to provide modern and scalable services, the AEC has invested time and money in a multi-layered infrastructure offering. This includes ensuring it can offer supportable and robust infrastructure, whether at the end-user’s desktop or mobile service, within the AEC server and storage infrastructure, or engaging with commercial service providers to provide scalable commercial-grade, secure cloud-based offerings. This allows the AEC to conduct its business as usual, as well as scale up services to run an election within a short timeframe in a secure and supportable manner.

The AEC has recently upgraded, refreshed, or modernised:

  • desktop and laptop devices across the network
  • storage services, with capacity increased and updated equipment
  • patching and image maintenance across virtual and on-premises equipment.

IT security (voting)

Reports of cyber attacks have been widespread over the past year. The AEC continues to work with external parties and stakeholders to maintain awareness of current attacks and trends, and implements appropriate mitigation strategies to protect the AEC network.

Procurement

Purchasing

The AEC’s approach to procuring goods and services is consistent with the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. The AEC applies these rules through its accountable authority instructions and supporting operational guidelines.

The AEC has a centralised area of expertise, which provides procurement and contracting advice and manages panel arrangements for key election-related services. Information on procurement policy and practices is available to staff through an internal procurement and contract management register and the intranet.

The AEC continues to develop procurement skills, and implement processes to improve efficiency and value-for-money outcomes.

Information on procurements expected to be undertaken in 2017–18 is in the annual procurement plan, available from the AusTender website (www.tenders.gov.au).

Initiatives to support small business

The AEC supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Participation statistics for small and medium enterprises, are available on the Department of Finance website.

The AEC recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the survey of Australian Government payments to small business are available at www.treasury.gov.au.

Requests for tender

There were five open tender requests published electronically on AusTender in 2016–17.

Grants

The AEC did not administer any discretionary grant programs in 2016–17.

Consultancies

The AEC engages consultants when it requires either specialist expertise, or independent research, review or assessment on matters relating to the delivery of electoral events. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose an identified issue or problem, carry out defined reviews or evaluations, or provide independent advice to assist in AEC decision-making.

Decisions to engage consultants during 2016–17 were made in accordance with section 35(2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the PGPA Act and related Regulations (including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules), and relevant internal policies.

During 2016–17, the AEC entered into 15 new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $1,491,897 (GST inc.). In addition, 12 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving an actual expenditure of $617,149 (GST inc.).

Further information on the value of AEC contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.

Table 23: Expenditure on consultancy contracts 2014–15 to 2016–17
  2014–15
$ million
2015–16
$ million
2016–17
$ million

Total actual consultancy expenditure

2.5

2.9

2.1

Australian National Audit Office access provisions

All AEC contract templates include a standard clause providing for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises. The AEC did not have any contracts without the Australian National Audit Office access provisions.

Exempt contracts

No contracts or standing offers in excess of $10,000 (GST incl.) in 2016–17 were exempt from publication on AusTender on the basis that they would disclose exempt information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Sustainability principles

In accordance with the Commonwealth procurement framework, the AEC aims to fulfil its responsibility to be an efficient, effective, economical, ethical and sustainable procurer. The AEC’s procurement policy seeks to achieve sustainability through reducing energy consumption and minimising waste.

Environmental performance

We manage our environmental performance by minimising the impact of our operations on the environment, encouraging sustainable business practices, managing waste, and monitoring energy and resource use. The AEC’s Environment Management Commitment is available on the AEC website.

An AEC Environmental and Sustainability Guide is available to all staff. It focuses on office-based operations and behaviours that align with legislative requirements. It also encourages environment-friendly and sustainable practices in the areas nominated above.

For the AEC, environmental performance also encompasses nationwide sustainable procurement practices, building operations, and the management of national, state/territory and divisional offices. It also includes the impact of state and federal elections, and management of the waste reduction program for the National Electoral Education Centre.

Sustainable development

Sustainable use of premises

In accordance with section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the AEC reports on environmental performance and measures that minimise environmental impact, including:

  • the recommendations of the Australian National Audit Office’s Performance Audit Report No.47 of 1998–99
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Energy Efficiency in Government Operations Policy
  • Fleet Monitoring Body guidelines for use of ethanol.

The AEC continues to take the following measures to minimise the effect of office operations on the environment:

  • contracting service providers to collect and recycle paper, cardboard, plastics, aluminium and glass
  • contracting service providers to remove spent toner cartridges
  • using partly or wholly recyclable products wherever possible
  • applying double-sided default printer settings to reduce paper consumption
  • promoting use of E10 petrol in AEC vehicles
  • considering environmental impacts in the design and layout of new and upgraded accommodation
  • working with contracted property services providers to reduce energy consumption in state/territory and divisional offices.

Sustainable procurement practices

The AEC addresses sustainable procurement in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules; the Department of the Environment and Energy’s Sustainable Procurement Guide; and the AEC Procurement Policy.

Value-for-money is a core principle of the AEC’s Procurement Policy. As a result, the agency values goods and service providers that reduce:

  • energy and consumption demand
  • unnecessary consumption
  • end-of-life disposal.

All tenders are evaluated with consideration of these principles.

Energy conservation

The AEC is committed to establishing standards, programs and innovative practices to improve energy efficiency across our property portfolio.

Energy efficient operations in the national office include:

  • energy-efficient dishwashers and refrigerators
  • automatic energy-saving mode for multifunction devices and machines
  • automatic energy-saving mode for desktop computers and monitors
  • motion-sensitive, task-based lighting.

For 2016–17, the use of light and power energy across all AEC premises was 8,836.14 megajoules per person, which represents an 8.21 per cent decrease on the previous year. Higher usage in the previous year was due to increased operations in the lead up to the 2016 federal election.

Water conservation

While opportunities to use water conservation strategies are sometimes limited across the entire AEC property portfolio, the AEC considers the capture and use of water wherever possible.

Water conservation measures at the national office include:

  • low-flow sensor taps
  • grey water recycling for flushing toilets
  • dual-flush cisterns and waterless or low-flow urinals
  • rainwater retention for use in cooling towers.

Responsible disposal of waste

The AEC’s Environmental and Sustainability Guide provides staff with instructions on the responsible disposal of:

  • cleaning chemicals
  • volatile organic compounds in paints and solvents
  • employee amenity paper products
  • furniture
  • kitchen supplies.

Vehicle use and travel reduction

AEC business vehicles are selected in accordance with the Department of Finance vehicle selection policy, with a focus on reduced CO2 emissions when comparing suitable models.

National Electoral Education Centre waste reduction program

The ACTSmart Business Recycling Program assesses the waste reduction initiatives of businesses located in the Australian Capital Territory.

In December 2016, the National Electoral Education Centre was awarded its seventh ACTSmart accreditation. In the seven years that it has actively participated in the program, it has reduced annual landfill waste to 2.9 cubic metres per annum, representing an overall waste reduction of 83 per cent. This achievement has been maintained despite the centre maintaining annual visitor numbers of more than 87,500.

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