Performance report

Performance against the agency purpose and
directions in the AEC Corporate Plan 2018–2022 with
reference to the Portfolio Budget Statements

  • Six agency directions
  • 11 performance measures
  • Eight met, two on track to be met, one partly met

Performance report

Since the 2017–18 annual report, the way the agency directions are presented in the AEC corporate plan has changed. While the agency directions remain the same, they have been reordered so that agency direction one covers the AEC’s key functions.

The AEC’s performance is measured against the agency purpose, the six agency directions in the AEC Corporate Plan 2018–2022 and the performance criteria in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS). The agency directions and PBS performance criteria are aligned, and both work towards the purpose as shown in Figure 1.

The AEC’s six agency directions are:
1
   Deliver high quality electoral services
2
   Continue to improve and modernise the delivery model for electoral events
3
   Govern the organisation for quality and assurance
4
   Professionalise our workforce
5
   Uphold the reputation of the AEC
6
   Build an agile and responsive organisation

The agency directions guide the AEC’s activities and priorities and promote continuous improvement, enabling the agency to effectively deliver its purpose. The performance measures under each direction deliver the AEC’s purpose directly or through enabling activities.

To better reflect the outcomes the AEC is aiming to achieve, each agency direction includes an intent statement and the AEC’s performance is measured against intended results.

To achieve the AEC’s purpose, agency directions and expected performance, the AEC manages two performance cycles. The:

  • Public Governance Public Accountability Act 2013 performance cycle
  • three-year federal electoral cycle

Using the Election Readiness Framework, the AEC comprehensively prepares for federal elections, and other electoral events. The Election Readiness Framework gives assurance to the Electoral Commissioner that the agency is at a ‘level of readiness’ to conduct an election.

The framework encompasses the three phases of election readiness:

  • evaluate and learn
  • implement change
  • mobilisation

To better reflect the outcomes the AEC is aiming to achieve, each agency direction includes an intent statement and the AEC’s performance is measured against intended results.

Through the Election Ready Road Map, each phase directs the activities to be undertaken. Throughout 2018–19 the AEC continued in the ‘implement change’ phase and moved into ‘mobilisation’ to deliver the 2019 federal election. ‘Implement change’ was guided by lessons learnt from the 2016 federal election, and the resulting work program priorities. These priorities were completed before or implemented at the 2019 federal election.

During 2018–19 the AEC also delivered six by-elections—including five on one day—and 906 industrial and commercial election events.

As lessons are identified from these events, the AEC will further define and shape future organisational capability to continue modernising the model for delivering elections.

Annual performance statements

The annual performance statements detail the AEC’s performance against each of the six agency directions. They include a result per criterion—either ‘met/on track to be met’, ‘partly met’ or ‘not met’—and an explanation.

The performance statements for 2018–19 are signed off by the Accountable Authority.

Statement by the Electoral Commissioner

I, as the Accountable Authority of the Australian Electoral Commission, present the 2018–19 annual performance statements of the Australian Electoral Commission as required under paragraph 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. In my opinion, these annual performance statements are based on properly maintained records, accurately reflect the performance of the entity, and comply with subsection 39(2) of the Act.

Tom Rogers
Electoral Commissioner
13 September 2019

Figure 1: Performance criteria from the AEC Portfolio Budget Statements mapped against agency directions
Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS) Corporate plan

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

Outcome in the PBS

Purpose in our corporate plan

One program: 1.1 To deliver electoral events

Six agency directions

Performance criteria

1
2
3
4
5
6

Elections, by-elections and referendums

  • Federal electoral events are successfully delivered.
  • Maintain ability to conduct a federal electoral event within a timeframe
  • Timely conduct of redistribution activities
  • Industrial elections, protected action ballots, and Torres Strait Regional Authority elections are delivered in accordance with the relevant legislation and rules
1
2
3
4
5
6

Electoral roll management

  • High level of confidence in the electoral roll
1
2
3
4
5
6

Party registrations and financial disclosure

  • Party registration processed in accordance with the Electoral Act
  • Financial disclosures obtained and placed on the public record in accordance with the Electoral Act
1
2
3
4
5
 

Public awareness

  • Deliver communication, education and public awareness activities to inform all Australians of electoral matters
1
2
 
 
5
6

Performance statement – agency direction one

Deliver high quality electoral services

The AEC is focused on providing consistent, high quality, and impartial electoral services to the Australian public and stakeholders that comply with legislation, and are delivered with integrity. These services encompass the core elements of the AEC’s purpose and include enrolment, polling services, targeted communication and education activities on electoral matters, and political party registration, funding and disclosure.

Result key for the performance table; Conditions are: Met, On track to be met, Partly Met and Not met
Intended result and performance criteria in AEC corporate plan* Link to purpose Result Explanation of result

1.1 Successfully deliver federal electoral events

Election writs returned within the timeframe specified in the writ

Election result delivered with integrity and withstands scrutiny

Efficient delivery of polling services

 

On Saturday 18 May the AEC delivered the 2019 federal election. The election writs were returned on 21 June 2019 within the specified timeframe.

At the time of publication, the AEC was aware of three petitions filed with the Court of Disputed Returns but does not comment on matters currently before the court.

The AEC also successfully delivered five by-elections on 28 July 2018 for the electoral divisions of Braddon, Fremantle, Longman, Mayo and Perth. A further by-election for the division of Wentworth was held on 20 October 2018. For all six by-elections, the election writs were returned within the specified timeframes and with no challenges to the results.

1.2 High level of confidence in the electoral roll

Completeness, accuracy and integrity of the electoral roll

Accessible enrolment and updates for eligible electors

Timeliness and accuracy of enrolment processing

Active electoral roll management

Support electoral redistributions

 

At 30 June 2019, electoral roll completeness—measured through the enrolment rate—remained at an historic high of 97.1% with over 16.4 million Australians enrolled to vote. This exceeds the AEC’s target enrolment rate of 95%.

The published enrolment rate at the close of rolls for the 2019 federal election was 96.8%. This rate was based on preliminary population estimates. The figure has now been revised to 97%.**

At 30 June 2019, accuracy and integrity of the electoral roll—at the divisional and individual address level—remained high at 97% and 93% respectively.

The AEC provides a range of accessible options for eligible voters to enrol and update their enrolment, including online. In 2018–19, the public most frequently used the online option. Approximately 49.4% of enrolment transactions were processed using the AEC’s online enrolment system, with 53.2% of these transactions system approved.

In 2018–19 the AEC’s target of 95% for enrolment processing over five days was not achieved. The five-day processing rate of 85.2% fell below the 95% target and the 30-day processing rate of 99.3% fell marginally below the 99.5% target. This was due to the increased number of declaration envelopes and forms submitted for major state and federal election events between November 2018 and May 2019.

Accuracy rates for enrolment processing are not included in 2018–19, as reporting was deferred due to consecutive state and federal elections.

1.3 Support electoral participation and voting formality through targeted education and public awareness activities that inform all Australians of electoral matters

Accessible public information and communication that is benchmarked and measured for effectiveness

Accessible, relevant and appropriate electoral education services and materials

Delivered targeted community engagement based on data and evidence

Targeted education and public awareness programs

 

For the 2019 federal election the AEC delivered a public information campaign incorporating mass media advertising, public relations activities, social media engagement and direct mail.

Of the 97.1% of eligible voters on the electoral roll, 91.9% voted at the 2019 election. This compares to turnout at the 2016 election of 91%.

Public awareness activities in 2019 were based on the 2016 federal election campaign, and revised to reflect:

  • contemporary AEC business objectives
  • changes in the media landscape
  • greater use of digital channels

The 2019 campaign was both broad and specific. It included delivery of the Official guide to the federal election to Australian households, as well as print and radio information in up to 30 languages and up to 18 Indigenous languages.

In the lead up to the federal election, the AEC undertook a social media advertising campaign called Stop and consider. This encouraged voters to check the source of electoral communications to avoid being misled by disinformation.

Further work was undertaken to develop our targeted approach to community engagement. The majority of performance targets for AEC education were also met.

1.4 Make available timely and accurate information and services to stakeholders when carrying out their legislative responsibilities and obligations

Maintain and publish a list of current registered political parties in accordance with the Electoral Act

Compliance reviews of political entities with disclosure obligations completed and published

Number of industrial and commercial election events supported annually and compliant with relevant legislation and rules

Administer political party registrations and financial disclosure

Efficient delivery of polling services

Conduct industrial and commercial elections

 

The AEC provides information and services to political parties as they carry out their responsibilities and obligations under the Electoral Act.

During 2018–19 the AEC maintained an up-to-date publicly available Register of Political Parties, consistent with the Electoral Act.

The AEC published annual and by-election funding disclosure returns by legislative deadlines.

The AEC also completed and published 16 compliance reviews of political parties and associated entities.

A total of 906 industrial and commercial election events were conducted in 2018–19. Compliance with legislation and rules was consistently monitored with 2.32% of events requiring further AEC management. This partly met the performance target.

An important element of this performance measure is the ongoing commitment to continually improve and modernise our delivery of industrial and commercial elections.

* Source: AEC Corporate Plan 2018–2022, p.8–9.
** The enrolment rate for the 2019 federal election was 97.0%. The enrolment rate as at 30 June 2019 was 97.1%.

What we did

In 2018–19 the AEC:

  • delivered polling services and event management at one federal election and six by-elections. Delivery of elections was underpinned by:
    • strategies, policies and procedures to enable AEC staff to deliver electoral events and services that are consistent with legislation
    • published service plans for each event describing the electoral services the AEC would provide to the public and stakeholders
    • a public information campaign targeting Australian citizens over 18 years old—including special audiences—for the 2019 federal election. A benchmarking survey was also undertaken as a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign
    • strategic communication activities which supported delivery of six federal by-elections
  • actively managed the Commonwealth Electoral Roll which is integral to election delivery and ensures the public and stakeholders have confidence in the roll’s completeness, accuracy and integrity. Through joint roll arrangements, the AEC also supported state, territory and local electoral events. The ongoing high enrolment rate is sustained by:
    • increased enrolment activity from federal and state electoral events
    • online enrolments through the Online Enrolment System
    • the Federal Direct Enrolment and Update Program which allows the AEC to place eligible people on the electoral roll based on data from external agencies
  • supported the timely conduct of three federal redistributions. These were determined for the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia in July 2018, increasing the number of electoral divisions to 151. Affected electors were notified in accordance with legislative obligations, including electors affected by redistributions completed in 2017–18 (Queensland and Tasmania)
  • developed public engagement materials relating to federal redistributions and by-elections, new candidate nominations processes and working at the 2019 federal election event. Information was provided to the public and stakeholders throughout the year through the AEC’s multiple communication channels
  • maintained highly accessible communication channels. This included creating a permanent web page aton the AEC website to support voters with disability or mobility restrictions. This initiative was promoted in the lead up to and during the federal election, and included Auslan videos and easy read guides
  • worked with communities and groups that may face barriers to electoral participation. This included:
    • defining a new community engagement framework targeting five clear cohorts (Indigenous Australians, culturally and linguistically diverse voters, young people, people with disability and homeless voters) through work with a range of partners
    • implementing strategies at the 2019 federal election for disability, remote participation, homelessness and the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP)
    • conducting a range of pilots using a new model of engagement and targeting different communities after initial analysis of the electoral roll or other data
    • designing, testing and implementing a new methodology to more accurately estimate the Indigenous voting age population and enrolment rates
    • identifying and collating lessons from these activities to inform how the AEC can provide information, educate, and assist these groups in the future
  • continued to deliver targeted electoral education activities for schools, teachers and school children that maintained currency with the Australian curriculum and electoral changes during the year. These included:
    • the National Electoral Education Centre in Canberra continued to run at capacity for much of the year. More than 95,000 visitors came through the centre in 2018–19 from all 151 electoral divisions. This is an increase from more than 90,000 visitors in 2017–18. In 2019 an online booking system was introduced to make access easier for tour operators and teachers
    • face-to-face or online professional learning opportunities for 1095 pre-service and 237 in-service teachers. This is a significant increase over last year’s participation
  • maintained the AEC for Schools website, which received 240,000 visitors. In addition, 521 new schools ordered their own election kits to participate in the AEC school outreach program, Get Voting. This spike in visitors suggests increased engagement with the education community in an election year
  • progressed election readiness for the 2021–22 federal election
  • engaged regularly with key stakeholders and provided information and services that allowed them to carry out their obligations and responsibilities under the Electoral Act, including recent significant changes to funding and disclosure legislation. This covered:
    • initial information on nominations and citizenship, including an optional qualifications checklist in place for by-elections
    • a mandatory qualifications checklist in place for the 2019 federal election as part of the candidate nomination form
    • administering a Transparency Register of publicly available information about political parties, associated entities, third parties, political campaigners and donors, and candidates registered with, or recognised by, the AEC
  • continued to modernise delivery of industrial and commercial elections (ICE). This included developing modern support tools for staff to produce high quality outcomes and establish appropriate compliance and quality management processes

In 2019–20 we are:

  • finalising all legislative requirements associated with delivering the 2019 federal election
  • progressing with election readiness for the 2021–22 federal election
  • delivering federal electoral events in accordance with legislation and the AEC’s strategies, policies and procedures
  • continuing to maintain high levels of enrolment by actively managing the electoral roll
  • providing Australians with targeted, accurate and impartial information and education on electoral matters
  • developing a self-service platform to more efficiently engage with political parties and associated entities as they carry out their legislative responsibilities and obligations
  • delivering industrial and commercial election events and defining a future operating model for ICE

Performance statement – agency direction two

Continue to improve and modernise the delivery model for electoral events

The AEC is focused on continually improving our model for delivering election events and electoral services, and moving towards a sustainable model for delivering modern events and services that are robust, secure and nationally-consistent.

Result key for the performance table; Conditions are: Met, On track to be met, Partly Met and Not met
Intended result and performance criteria in AEC corporate plan* Link to purpose Result Explanation of result

2.1 Maintain a cycle of continual improvement through the election readiness framework

Lessons from the 2016 election that constitute work priorities are implemented

Enabling

 

Thirteen cross-agency work priorities constituting lessons from the 2016 federal election, either informed, or were implemented, during delivery of the 2019 federal election.

An agreed framework for lessons management was endorsed and applied at the 2019 federal election through the Federal Election Lessons Management Plan.

As the AEC moves into the evaluate and learn phase of the election readiness cycle, lessons from the 2019 federal election are being identified.

2.2 Continued investment and momentum in the modernisation agenda

Business case for election and enrolment systems progressed (2018–19)

Enabling

 

The AEC continues to develop a business case to modernise the agency’s election and enrolment systems in line with our ICT strategic plan.

Timing for this work has now changed and will be progressed further in 2019–20.

* Source: AEC Corporate Plan 2018–2022, p.10.

What we did

During 2018–19 our work included:

  • delivering cross-agency work priorities, which addressed key lessons from the 2016 federal election. Work priorities were implemented or trialled at by-elections held in July and October 2018 and in full at the 2019 federal election
  • assessing and agreeing on our approach to lessons management in the lead up to the 2019 federal election. While this approach is ongoing through the whole electoral cycle, electoral events provide opportunities to capture key observations, and identify lessons and actions. Capturing the observations of AEC staff and business areas during the 2019 federal election was supported by the Lessons Management Federal Election Plan. Observations were also captured from the six by-elections delivered in 2018–19
  • developing a business case for modernisation of the AEC’s main election and roll management systems. This included:
    • establishing a dedicated team
    • submitting a first pass business case to the Department of Finance
    • preparing for a second pass submission which is due in December 2019

In 2019–20 we are:

  • identifying lessons and priorities from planning and delivering the 2019 federal election, and implementing these as part of the implement change phase of election readiness
  • further progressing the business case to modernise the AEC’s main election and roll management systems

Performance statement – agency direction three

Govern the organisation for quality and assurance

The AEC is focused on ensuring effective and efficient governance and assurance arrangements are in place and maintained so it is strategically and organisationally aligned to deliver its purpose and the agency directions.

Result key for the performance table; Conditions are: Met, On track to be met, Partly Met and Not met
Intended result and performance criteria in AEC corporate plan* Link to purpose Result Explanation of result

3.1 The governance framework is effective in supporting business outcomes

Achievement of agency performance criteria for the relevant reporting period

AEC governance committees have terms of reference and work plans that direct business improvement and enable assurance over agency operations

Enabling

 

At June 2019 91% of corporate plan intended results were rated as met.

Key governance committees provided oversight and direction to support the management and delivery of AEC business outcomes. These committees had up-to-date terms of reference and appropriate work plans, as well as ongoing agendas in place.

Overarching frameworks and reporting supported these committees, which were maintained and enhanced throughout the year.

Enhancing the agency’s approach to risk management, the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF), privacy and information management (as informed and guided by broader Commonwealth Government maturity frameworks) was a focus.

* Source: AEC Corporate Plan 2018–2022, p.11.

What we did

In 2018–19 the AEC’s focus on maturing key agency-wide governance arrangements continued. This included allocating resources in line with strategic and operational priorities. Activities included:

  • undertaking an annual survey of governance committee members to confirm committees were working effectively, continually improving, and future focused
  • releasing the AEC’s Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Strategic Plan 2018–2022. This aligns technology capability with the AEC’s long-term business strategy across three main themes—security, data, and modernisation. The ICT Strategic Plan is reviewed and maintained alongside the corporate plan, and ensures the AEC can respond to changing priorities
  • continuing the agency’s commitment to effective governance by recognising opportunities and threats, and managing strategic and enterprise risks in line with the AEC’s risk appetite. This includes:
    • developing the AEC’s first risk appetite statement
    • continuing to enhance the AEC’s risk maturity and elements of our risk management framework in the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Program
    • assessing our maturity against the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework each year and increasing our capabilities across policy and procedures, physical security, communication and education
    • rolling out risk management training across the AEC state office network, and using governance forums to facilitate structured discussions on risk
  • establishing, endorsing and publishing an agency Privacy Management Plan (PMP). This monitors continual improvement in the AEC’s privacy management practices and was widely communicated to staff. The plan accords with the Privacy Act 1988, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the AEC Privacy Policy and other rules and legislation, such as the Australian Government Agencies Privacy Code which took effect on 1 July 2018
  • continuing work to mature information management within the agency, including:
    • implementing an Electronic Document Records Management System, with roll out commencing in June 2019
    • undertaking the National Archives of Australia annual survey, Checkup PLUS
  • meeting the Average Staffing Level targets outlined in the agency’s 2018–19 Portfolio Budget Statements. The AEC is expected to report an operating loss in 2018–19

In 2019–20 we are:

  • continuing our focus on enhancing the maturity of agency approaches to governance and assurance
  • supporting an AEC funding review and implementing the outcomes
  • continuing investment in our business intelligence capability to support agency operations and evidence-based decision making

Performance statement – agency direction four

Professionalise our workforce

The AEC’s core and temporary workforce is critical to successful delivery of electoral events, and enables the AEC to deliver its purpose. The agency is focused on attracting, training and maintaining a professional workforce with the capability and agility needed as we pursue efforts to modernise our model for delivering election events.

Result key for the performance table; Conditions are: Met, On track to be met, Partly Met and Not met
Intended result and performance criteria in AEC corporate plan* Link to purpose Result Explanation of result

4.1 Staff are role capable and have a clear understanding of expectations and accountabilities

Effective lifecycle management of the AEC workforce is embedded in human resource systems and guided by strategy

Percentage of AEC staff who have completed mandatory corporate training

Percentage of AEC staff (permanent and temporary) who have completed election-specific training relevant to their role

Training and development activities evaluated and lessons to be learned are identified

Enabling

 

In 2018–19, the AEC focused its efforts on supporting the operational aspects of attracting, recruiting and onboarding a very large temporary election and surge workforce for the 2019 federal election.

The AEC continued its significant investment in training and development—both for APS staff and the temporary election workforcethrough a nationally coordinated whole-of-agency approach.

Training completion rates for APS staff met the 90 per cent targets:

  • 98.3% of APS staff (excluding APS1 and labour hire) completed mandatory eLearning focused on core APS skills and legislative requirements
  • 96.7% of APS staff (excluding APS1 and labour hire) completed online election-specific training relevant to their role

Training completion rates for the temporary election workforce are being finalised. Data will be reported to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, and published in the 2019–20 annual performance statements.

Training and development lessons are being identified through the AEC’s lessons management approach.

The AEC considers work under this direction to be a long-term endeavour. The intended result for 2018–19 has been partly met as developing an AEC human resource (HR) strategy and Capability Framework remains in progress and will be a focus in 2019–20.

* Source: AEC Corporate Plan 2018–2022, p.12.

What we did

Key achievements for the year were:

  • ‘scaling up’ our core and temporary election workforce for polling day. More than 90,000 individuals were onboarded for the federal election, all of who had to be recruited, trained and paid
  • delivering programs designed to support critical operational and leadership capabilities including:
    • the Election Readiness Program
    • the Australian Electoral Officer Program
    • divisional and state election planning and learning programs
    • the Election Experience Program
    • online and face-to-face training for the temporary election workforce
  • conducting three large scale rehearsals involving state and divisional office staff. A Declaration Vote Envelope Management rehearsal and two nominations rehearsals (the second following legislative changes to the nominations process in March 2019) allowed staff to practise these integral elements of election delivery. Participants in the nominations rehearsal demonstrated an increased awareness of procedures across the two rehearsals
  • initiating planning for a new HR strategy which will support workforce planning (including life-cycle management). It will focus on driving high performance, improving employee engagement, and establishing the AEC as an employer of choice. Work undertaken in 2018–19 included:
    • developing the AEC’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019–2022
    • maturing HR business intelligence to support strategy development and workforce planning
    • mapping and stocktaking existing human resource policies and procedures
  • progressively identifying training and development lessons and insights to be fed back into AEC learning programs developed by the National Training and Education Unit

In 2019–20 we are:

  • continuing to plan and develop our HR strategy to manage the AEC workforce
  • reviewing training and development activities and identifying lessons and actions following the federal election
  • progressing the AEC’s Capability Framework to define learning pathways for staff at all levels. This includes maturing the AEC’s approach to training and development, and future investment

Performance statement – agency direction five

Uphold the reputation of the AEC

As an independent statutory body, the AEC supports an impartial electoral system—a core aspect of the agency’s purpose. Under the Electoral Act the AEC also provides international electoral assistance in cases approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Result key for the performance table; Conditions are: Met, On track to be met, Partly Met and Not met
Intended result and performance criteria in AEC corporate plan* Link to purpose Result Explanation of result

5.1 Timely, accurate information and advice on electoral administration that supports the direction of the AEC

Timely, quality information and advice is provided to relevant ministers, secretaries, Senate Estimates, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, other Parliamentary committees and key agencies

Enabling

 

In 2018–19 productive working relationships were maintained with the Minister, Parliament, key committees and agencies by:

  • providing the Minister’s office with 41 submissions and 117 items of correspondence that met required timeframes and standards
  • providing timely and quality responses to two Parliamentary committees and four inquiries, which included providing seven submissions and attending two public hearings
  • preparing 44 Question Time Briefs, attending three Senate Estimates hearings, and responding to 33 Senate Estimates Questions on Notice. This was achieved within the timeframes allocated by the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
  • receiving no complaints from Parliamentary committees on timeliness or quality of AEC responses
  • responding to requests for information to support various government agencies

* Source: AEC Corporate Plan 2018–2022, p.13.

What we did

Throughout 2018–19 the AEC was required to provide timely, accurate information and advice on electoral administration and operations to a range of stakeholders. This included identifying opportunities and risks in the electoral environment by engaging with:

  • the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM)
  • Department of Finance
  • other government agencies
  • state and territory electoral commissions

Activities included:

  • implementing technical amendments to the Electoral Act as agreed with JSCEM, including making the nominations checklist compulsory, electoral authorisations and foreign donations
  • maintaining partnerships to enhance and promote understanding of the electoral environment in Australia and internationally. This included ongoing engagement through the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand (ECANZ) to explore collaboration and knowledge sharing including through:
    • the Indigenous Electoral Participation Working Group, which works to share knowledge, best practice, resources and opportunities to improve electoral participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at federal, state and local levels
    • creation of a temporary election staff working group which focuses on greater cooperation and opportunities to harmonise the way temporary election staff are employed across federal, state and local elections

In 2019–20 we are:

  • supporting a JSCEM inquiry into the conduct of the 2019 federal election
  • working to maintain electoral integrity from electoral fraud or non-compliance with the Electoral Act
  • working with relevant Commonwealth agencies and stakeholders to mitigate threats to electoral integrity from malicious cyber activity, physical means, foreign interference or disinformation
  • maintaining engagement with other electoral management bodies to explore opportunities for collaboration, improve systems, security and services, and share knowledge
  • undertaking strategic engagement with developing countries and emerging democracies on electoral administration that is consistent with the Australian Government’s national interest and foreign policy objectives

Performance statement – agency direction six

Build an agile and responsive organisation

To effectively deliver the agency purpose the AEC must continue to build its agility and responsiveness as an organisation, flexing up and down as required through the three-year electoral cycle. This requires balancing election readiness with the ongoing delivery of electoral services to the public and our stakeholders. We also need to be ready to plan and operationalise changes to legislation, systems and processes, sometimes within limited timeframes.

Result key for the performance table; Conditions are: Met, On track to be met, Partly Met and Not met
Intended result and performance criteria in AEC corporate plan* Link to purpose Result Explanation of result

6.1 Maintain an appropriate level of readiness to conduct a federal election event

Directed Level of Election Readiness (DLER) determined by the Electoral Commissioner is met

Assessment of progress against the Election Ready Road Map

Efficient delivery of polling services

Enabling

 

During 2018–19 the AEC moved through the ‘implement change’ and ‘mobilisation’ phases of the election readiness framework.

The AEC met the Directed Level of Election Readiness and was able to mobilise and deliver the 2019 federal election within 37 days of the Issue of Writs.

The level of readiness was assessed by:

  • monthly monitoring of progress against the Election Ready Road Map (ERRM)
  • conducting two election readiness checks – one at DLER minus 100 days and one just before the issue of election writs

The AEC maintained ongoing planning efforts for the federal election while delivering six federal by-elections in 2018.

6.2 Invest in and deliver strategies that increase organisational capability

Ability to effectively implement change in the electoral cycle to make improvements to the AEC’s organisational capability

Enabling

 

The AEC completed an organisational design review of its national and state offices in early 2018. Preliminary structures detailing the additional resources and capabilities required during in election periods were also finalised in late 2018.

At the federal election, the AEC delivered a number of major initiatives to increase organisational capability. These included:

  • supply chain management
  • polling place metrics
  • increased use of Electronic Certified Lists (ECLs)
  • Counting the Senate

With the exception of Counting the Senate—which cannot be trialled at a by-election—these major initiatives were also implemented and tested during federal by-elections.

Lessons following implementation of these major initiatives are currently being assessed.

* Source: AEC Corporate Plan 2018–2022, p.14.

What we did

In 2018–19 the AEC:

  • completed work on its organisational design structure which allows the agency to scale up and down during election and non-election periods in national and state offices. The organisational structure of the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program (IEPP) was reviewed and commenced implementation. Future models for divisional offices are yet to be determined and implementation will not occur until after the delivery of 2019 federal election. A functional review of the ICE program is in progress
  • monitored and assessed the state of election readiness using the Election Readiness Assessment Framework and the Election Ready Road Map. Key assurance activities were undertaken to confirm and validate readiness, critical election processes rehearsed, and election readiness messages were communicated through the National Election Manager and the Electoral Commissioner
  • took a proactive approach to potential legislative changes in the lead-up to the federal election. Preliminary work included introducing an optional candidate qualifications checklist (available at by-elections in 2018), and streamlining electoral processes. The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Modernisation and Other Measures) Act 2019 received Royal Assent on 1 March 2019, and the AEC was well prepared to implement changes before the federal election
  • implemented four major initiatives using technology and data to increase organisational capability. These were:
    • Counting the Senate—an ongoing model for scanning and counting Senate ballot papers and embedding this work within the AEC for multi-election use
    • supply chain management—a centrally-led and coordinated supply chain model to supply, distribute and return election materials and equipment to multiple areas of the AEC network during electoral events. This initiative was implemented nationally at the 2019 federal election
    • increased use of ECLs, which allow polling officials to search the list of eligible electors and record electronically that the elector has been handed a ballot paper. Over 4,500 ECLs were deployed for the 2019 federal election (up from 1,500 in 2016). To test the effectiveness of increasing their use before the federal election, ECLs were used in all polling stations at by-elections between July and October 2018
    • polling place metrics, which are designed to improve polling place processes and positioning of staff and materials through computer-based modelling. These metrics guided polling place management at the 2019 federal election, including increased staffing in polling places and adjustments to the way tasks were carried out. Data captured in 2019 will inform and refine polling place models and support evidence-based decision making

In 2019–20 we are:

  • maintaining robust processes embedded in the election readiness framework to monitor and determine election readiness
  • transitioning from the ‘evaluate and learn’ phase of the election readiness framework to ‘implement change’
  • continuing to evolve the AEC’s organisational design, structure and governance to allow increased agility in response to changes in risk and the environment

Other performance

The regulator performance framework

As a regulatory body the AEC aims to reduce the regulatory burden for electors through more efficient enrolment and voting services.

In line with the Australian Government’s commitment to reducing the cost of unnecessary and inefficient regulation on individuals, business and community organisations, the AEC’s performance is measured against the regulator performance framework.

The AEC reports against six mandatory key performance indicators as set by the Australian Government. The AEC’s performance for 2018–19 is outlined in Table 1. Results are cross-referenced with the agency directions reported earlier in this section.

Result key for the performance table; Conditions are: Met, On track to be met, Partly Met and Not met
Table 1: AEC performance against the regulator performance framework
Mandatory key performance indicators under the regulator performance framework AEC performance criteria—what the AEC does to ensure performance indicators are met Result

Regulators do not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of regulated entities

Support electoral participation and voting formality through communication, education and public awareness activities that inform all Australians of electoral matters

 

See performance under agency direction 1

Communication with regulated entities is clear, targeted and effective

Make available timely and accurate information and services to stakeholders when carrying out their legislative responsibilities and obligations

 

See performance under agency direction 1

Actions undertaken by regulators are proportionate to the regulatory risk being managed

Maintain an appropriate level of readiness to conduct a federal election event

 

See performance under agency direction 6

Compliance and monitoring approaches are streamlined and coordinated

The governance framework is effective in supporting business outcomes

 

See performance under agency direction 3

Regulators are open and transparent in their dealings with regulated entities

Timely and accurate information and advice on electoral administration that supports the direction of the AEC

 

See performance under agency direction 5

Regulators actively contribute to the continuous improvement of regulatory frameworks

Maintain a cycle of continual improvement through the election readiness framework

 

See performance under agency direction 2

Invest in and deliver strategies that increase organisational capability
 
See performance under agency direction 6