Management and accountability
Legislative framework and external scrutiny
This section outlines the legislative framework and external scrutiny mechanisms under which Austrade operates.
Austrade operates under the following legislation:
- Australian Trade Commission Act 1985—defines the functions, duties and powers of the Chief Executive Officer and the Commission
- Export Market Development Grants Act 1997—provides for the Export Market Development Grants scheme, the Government’s principal export market assistance programme, which is administered by Austrade
- Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997—provides the framework for the proper management of public money and public property
- Public Service Act 1999—governs the establishment and operation of, and employment in, the APS.
Austrade was not the subject of any reports tabled by the Auditor-General in Parliament during 2013–14, but was surveyed and provided supporting documentation as part of an across-agencies performance audit—Managing Conflicts of Interest in FMA Agencies (Audit Report No. 47 2013–14).
ANAO better practice guidelines encourage agencies to consider relevant ANAO reports tabled for other agencies, with the aim of improving public administration across Australian Government agencies. During the reporting period, Austrade considered five ANAO reports tabled by the Auditor-General that were assessed as relevant to Austrade operations:
- Agencies’ implementation of performance audit recommendations
- The Australian Government Performance Management and Reporting Framework—pilot project to audit key performance indicators
- Confidentiality in government contracts: Senate Order for department and agency contracts (calendar year 2012 compliance)
- Management of complaints and other feedback
- Administration of government advertising arrangements: August 2011 to March 2013.
Austrade’s management also reviewed three better practice guides:
- Human resources management information systems: risk and controls
- Preparation of financial statements by public sector entities
- Implementing better practice grants administration.
Austrade also made recommendations to the Audit and Risk Committee on ways to improve Austrade’s internal controls framework.
Judicial decisions and reviews by outside bodies
During the reporting period, there were no judicial decisions or reviews by outside bodies that had a significant impact on the operations of Austrade. Austrade’s input to parliamentary inquiries and briefings is discussed on page 79.
Details of appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal under the Export Market Development Grants Act 1997 are shown on page 94 (Table 10). One decision of the tribunal, involving appeals under the Export Market Development Grants scheme, was referred to the Federal Court on appeal during 2013–14. Any grant amounts payable as a result of a successful appeal are payable from the administered account and not from Austrade’s departmental budget.
Austrade received no complaints under the Privacy Act 1988 during 2013–14.
Training on the Commonwealth Privacy Principles and Austrade’s own privacy policies was provided as part of regular corporate training throughout the year, including induction training and training for staff being posted overseas.
In addition, following changes to legislation governing privacy laws, Austrade policy and practice was revised and staff were required to complete a policy refresher course, which included a section on privacy.
Freedom of information
Agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme. This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act, which has replaced the formal requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. Austrade meets its obligations under the FOI Act by displaying on its website, www.austrade.gov.au, a plan showing what information is published in accordance with the requirements of the Information Publication Scheme.