Management and accountability
Accountability and management of resources
Austrade, a Statutory Agency within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, is a Prescribed Agency subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Public Service Act 1999. Austrade has an executive management governance structure headed by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Austrade's Corporate Governance Framework provides support to the operations of Austrade to achieve its stated objectives in an ethical, efficient and effective manner. The framework provides a structured approach to decision-making through a mature system for managing risk, internal controls, human and financial resources, planning and assurance processes.
The CEO is responsible to the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP, for the performance of Austrade. The CEO is assisted in his role by a Senior Executive Group (Table 8), an Audit and Risk Committee, an Ethics Committee and a number of internal management committees. Both the Audit and Risk Committee and the Ethics Committee have independent chairpersons, and the Audit and Risk Committee also has a further additional independent member.
During the past year, Austrade has undertaken a range of enhancements to its governance framework. Examples of specific governance changes implemented at Austrade to date include:
- a smaller and strengthened Senior Executive Group headed by the CEO which meets weekly
- a global rather than regional management structure with strategic management and oversight of the international network based in Austrade's Sydney headquarters
- a simplified organisational structure (see page 5) providing clearer lines of responsibility for Austrade's core functions—trade, investment and education—and for the Export Market Development Grants scheme, as well as for corporate service functions.
In August 2011, Austrade commissioned the Australia and New Zealand School of Government's Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra to provide an independent review of its overall governance framework.
The institute's report concluded that Austrade's corporate governance structures were of a high quality, particularly in the area of anti-corruption training, which represented international best practice.
The report also noted that Austrade had implemented a considered reform program of its business and internal structures and had created effective frameworks for governance.
Austrade will continue to monitor the quality and effectiveness of its Corporate Governance Framework.
The Australian Government has a zero tolerance approach to bribery and corruption.
Since 2010, Austrade has undertaken a series of initiatives to ensure its practices comply with the anti-bribery provisions contained in section 70 of the Criminal Code 1995.
Among these initiatives was a mandatory training program for all staff outlining their responsibilities with respect to the anti-bribery provisions. Transparency International Australia and the Australian Federal Police both reviewed Austrade's training program, which was completed with 100 per cent participation by staff.
Austrade also updated its policies and client documentation, including its Service Policy Handbook, to ensure that anti-bribery provisions—for example, that Austrade cannot assist firms that pay bribes—are made clear in its service proposals.
In addition, Australian businesses operating in international markets are advised of their ethical and legal obligations under Australian law. Australian businesses also need to be aware of how anti-bribery laws of other countries may apply to them, including different laws around facilitation payments.
Austrade's policy is that Austrade officers should not make or arrange facilitation payments. Any Austrade official who suspects an individual or a company of being involved in corruption must report the concern to authorities.
Corporate Governance Forum
The Corporate Governance Forum is an Austrade initiative developed in 2009 to assist Australian Government agencies to achieve best practice in governance through the exchange of ideas. The forum brings together government agencies throughout the year to share information on current approaches, transfer knowledge and identify best practice on public sector governance topics.
In 2011–12, four forum meetings were held, hosted by agencies on the organising committee and covering topics such as:
- integrity and ethics
- work health and safety
- the Commonwealth Financial Management Framework
- the Public Service Act 1999.
Austrade has benefited from leading and participating in the forum to further enhance its own approach towards its risk culture, audit practices and the development of an improved corporate policy framework.
The forum's organising committee includes representatives from Austrade, AusAID, the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink, the Department of Finance and Deregulation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The Australian Taxation Office took over as chair of the forum at the end of 2011.
Chief Executive Officer
The CEO has overall responsibility for the management of Austrade and reports directly to the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness. The functions and duties of the CEO are established through the Australian Trade Commission Act 1985.
The Minister for Trade and Competitiveness may give the CEO directions with respect to the performance of his or her functions and the exercise of powers. No ministerial directions were issued in 2011–12.
Senior Executive Group
|Chief Executive Officer||Peter Grey||Overall responsibility for the management of Austrade; reports directly to the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness|
|Executive Director, International Operations||Laurie Smith||Responsible for Austrade's offshore network|
|Executive Director, Australian Operations||Tim Beresford||Responsible for five key business areas in Austrade: Trade; Investment; Partners and Referrals; Sectoral Initiatives; and Marketing, Online and Business Practice|
|Executive Director, Education and Corporate Operations||Peter Yuile||Responsible for six key business and enabling areas in Austrade: International Education and Training; Programs, Consular and Business Services; Finance; Information Technology Services; Legal, Security and Procurement; and Ministerial, Parliamentary and Portfolio Coordination|
|Chief Human Resources and Change Management Officer||Marcia Kimball||Responsible for Austrade's national and international human resources management, strategy, systems, services, capability and talent|
|Group Manager, Governance, Analysis and Planning||David Crook||Responsible for Austrade's corporate governance, including internal audit, analysis and corporate planning|
Audit and Risk Committee
The role of the Audit and Risk Committee is to provide independent assurance and assistance to the CEO on Austrade's risk, control, compliance and external accountability responsibilities.
The committee consists of four members: two independent members, David Morgan (chair) and David Lawler, and two internal members, the Executive Director, Australian Operations, and the General Manager, Established Markets. The committee met six times during 2011–12.
The role of the Ethics Committee is to promote high standards of ethical behaviour throughout Austrade, provide clear and consistent guidance on standards of conduct and evaluate the effectiveness of Austrade policies and practices in relation to ethical behaviour. The committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the CEO on Austrade's ethical governance framework.
The committee consists of an independent member, Jeff Lamond (chair); Austrade's Chief Human Resources and Change Management Officer; and a cross-section of Austrade's senior management from onshore and offshore. The Group Manager, Legal, Security and Procurement, is designated as Chief Ethics Officer and an ex-officio member of the Ethics Committee.
Austrade's corporate planning framework includes the preparation of a Corporate Plan which sets out the key strategies that Austrade will pursue to achieve the outcomes and priorities set by the Australian Government.
The Senior Executive Group determines organisation-wide initiatives to support the agreed strategies. In 2011–12, these initiatives focused on the implementation of the outcomes of the Austrade review, including a new strategy, operating model and organisational structure. Austrade's new strategic direction is set out in the May 2011 statement Reform of the Australian Trade Commission: maximising our value, available at www.austrade.gov.au.
More generally, the initiatives reflect Austrade's demand-driven model which centres on the need to focus where Austrade can add the greatest value in addressing market challenges.
Austrade's corporate planning is informed by factors including:
- the Government's expectations and policies, reflected in the programs and functions for which Austrade is responsible
- trade, investment and education environments, and the opportunities these present for Australian businesses and educational institutions, as well as anticipated changes in the global trade and economic outlook
- current budgetary and fiscal requirements.
Austrade's plans for 2011–12 were also informed by research undertaken as part of the review of Austrade, including information from the annual Client Service Improvement Study, Austrade client, investor and customer data, and previous research, analysis and empirical studies conducted by international institutions.
The Senior Executive Group reviews progress against the plan through reports at its weekly meetings. In 2011–12, the Review Implementation Taskforce also met regularly to monitor implementation of Austrade's revised strategy, structure and processes as articulated in the Reform of the Australian Trade Commission: maximising our value statement.
Members of the Senior Executive Group chair subcommittees on workplace relations, security, and business improvement priorities and initiatives (see Table 9). These committees support governance, inform operations and provide mechanisms for consultation and communication with staff.
Austrade's executive management structure and reporting relationships are shown in Figure 17.
|Committee||Role and activities||Participants at 30 June 2012|
Senior Executive Group
Considers key management issues, strategic priorities, corporate, operational and divisional plans, as well as corporate policy and operational issues
CEO (chair); executive directors; Chief Human Resources and Change Management Officer; and Group Manager, Governance, Analysis and Planning
Audit and Risk Committee
Considers governance arrangements and provides independent advice and assurance to the CEO on risk management, compliance and external accountability
Independent members: David Morgan (chair); David Lawler
Internal members: Executive Director, Australian Operations; General Manager, Established Markets
Promotes high standards of ethical behaviour throughout Austrade
Independent member: Jeff Lamond (chair)
Internal members: Chief Human Resources and Change Management Officer; Group Manager, Legal, Security and Procurement; and a cross-section of onshore and offshore senior managers
|Business Advisory Group||Provides governance oversight of major projects such as IT development projects, and ensures a client and stakeholder focus in achieving outcomes||Executive Director, International Operations (chair); Executive Director, Education and Corporate Operations; Executive Director, Australian Operations; Chief Human Resources and Change Management Officer|
|Security Advisory Group||Provides advice on the management of security issues, including policy, planning and risk management; also considers specific security issues in business units and overseas offices||Executive Director, Education and Corporate Operations (chair); Chief Human Resources and Change Management Officer; Chief Information Officer; Senior Executive, Security; Agency Security Adviser; management and staff representatives|
|Workplace Relations Committee||Staff and management consultative committee on workplace relations and change management issues||Chief Human Resources and Change Management Officer (chair); management and APL 1–5 staff representatives|
Figure 17: Executive management structure
Austrade's governance arrangements are designed to ensure effective decision-making and communication of corporate governance and organisational priorities. Throughout 2011–12, staff received information on a wide range of corporate issues, including the review of Austrade; changes to work health and safety legislation; anti-bribery policies; security issues; executive meeting outcomes; and the Austrade components of the 2011–12 Budget.
The methods used to communicate corporate information to staff include:
- CEO and corporate messages delivered via email
- tailored messages from executive directors, general managers and line managers
- a weekly online newsletter – Global News
- Austrade's intranet, known as Austin, and Austrade's online workspace for global collaboration, known as Connect
- 'Maximising Our Value' workshops presented to onshore and offshore staff to communicate the revised business practices and implement the outcomes of the review process
- presentations to onshore staff from visiting offshore staff through the Stay in Touch program
- staff briefings on emerging issues and trade updates, including industry, investment, market and country updates.
Corporate training programs, including pre-posting and induction training and online modules, were used throughout 2011–12 to keep staff informed and aware of current corporate policies and procedures.
Each year, all Austrade staff are required to complete an annual Austrade corporate policy refresher module. Key policy focus areas covered by the module included:
- ethical business, code of conduct and Australian Public Service values, especially relating to bribery and corruption
- work health and safety
- corporate governance and policy framework, including risk management
- engagement with clients and investors
- procurement practices.
In 2011–12, all Austrade staff also completed an online training module on work health and safety.