Corporate governance

Our approach to governance enables us to deliver outcomes effectively and achieve high levels of performance in a manner consistent with applicable legal and policy obligations.

The Executive Board is the decision-making body for the department. Membership consists of the Secretary, Associate and Deputy Secretaries, and the two corporate Group Managers.

The Executive Board facilitates work across the department to achieve corporate objectives and promotes the core principles of good public sector governance - accountability, transparency, integrity, stewardship, efficiency, leadership and risk management.

The Departmental Network Meeting is an information sharing, consultative forum comprising the Executive Board and the department’s senior executive staff. The Departmental Network Meeting provides input to strategic and policy matters across the department.

As at 30 June 2015, the Executive Board was supported by five departmental committees:

  • Audit
  • Information Technology
  • Strategy and Impact
  • People and Culture
  • Deregulation

The committees met on either a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly basis and assisted with broader departmental reporting and decision making processes, developing new ideas and providing forums for consultation. The committees reported regularly to the Executive Board.

Our Strategic Plan

The Department of Education Strategic Plan 2014–2017 was launched in July 2014. Development of the plan, through consultation with our people, provided an exciting opportunity to consider who we are, what we do and why we do it.

The plan sets out our vision—opportunity through learning—and our department’s goals, which reflect the Australian Government’s priorities. An important component of the plan is our commitment to improving education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The plan also describes our pathways, values and culture and highlights how we support our people, stakeholders and clients.

The strategic plan was developed prior to machinery of government changes announced on 23 December 2014. As such, it does not include the vocational education and training function of the Department of Education and Training. These functions are reflected in the Department of Education and Training Corporate Plan 2015–19, developed during early 2015 and released on 31 August 2015.

Business planning

Business plans are developed annually for business units and outline a formal statement of goals and how they will be achieved. At the beginning of 2014–15 the department’s business plans aligned with the vision and goals set out in the strategic plan, which in turn are linked to individual performance and development plans.

Business plans were developed in mid-2015 to align with the visions, goals and resourcing set out in the Department of Education and Training Corporate Plan 2015–19. Plans are updated as needed to reflect any changes in priorities and are reviewed biannually.

Fraud control

As required by section 10 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014, the department has:

  • conducted fraud risk assessments as required under the department’s Risk Framework
  • implemented a fraud control plan
  • appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting mechanisms that meet the specific needs of the department
  • taken all reasonable measures to appropriately deal with fraud relating to the department.

In 2014–15, the department promoted fraud awareness and managed fraud risks by:

  • continuing to integrate fraud risk assessment into the department’s business planning processes
  • providing an interactive online fraud awareness training package for employees
  • maintaining a suite of fraud control guidance documents for all employees
  • developing a new Department of Education and Training Fraud Control Plan 2015–2018, which will be implemented in the 2015–16 financial year
  • providing advice to programme and policy areas on fraud risk analysis and management
  • investigating instances of possible fraud in accordance with the Australian Government Investigations Standards and the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework 2014.

Risk management

The department’s risk management framework and policy was updated in August 2014 to align with the new Commonwealth Risk Management Policy.

To assist in accomplishing our vision the department has adopted an enterprise-wide risk management approach, designed to ensure risk is managed in an integrated way and operationalised as an essential part of all business processes. This approach is to ensure risk management is considered a critical part of business delivery and good governance that supports our initiatives by providing systematic, timely and structured methods for managing uncertainty.

The Executive Board’s management of risk at the strategic level is supported by the commitment to risk management as an integral part of the department’s planning and decision making processes. Accurately identifying, treating and monitoring departmental risks and opportunities at the operational and organisational level enhances the department’s resilience and capacity to positively respond to complex environments.

The department’s risk management framework and policy guide the way risks are managed across the department with an emphasis on a positive risk culture and understanding of risk that provides a greater certainty for our stakeholders. By being fully cognisant of our risk profile we are better informed, more decisive and move with increased confidence to achieve our vision and successfully deliver government initiatives.

The department’s risk landscape is captured by the use of RiskActive, an integrated whole-of-department risk management system. Our risk register allows for the management of risk in real time, provides a central repository for risk plans and supports the risk management framework and policy. RiskActive open days are held on a regular basis to enable staff to become acquainted with the system, supported by an eLearning component and an on-line assisted environment.

In January 2015 the department participated in the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey. The results from the Survey saw the department achieve a risk maturity level rating of ‘advanced’ for its approach to risk management. This is the second highest rating that can be achieved, is above the government entity average of ‘integrated’ and is consistent with the department’s size, complexity, operating environment and agreed expectations of our accountable authority.

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