Management and accountability
Financial management and business assurance
Austrade managed its assets and financial resources to support its operations by delivering:
- an effective system of management and internal controls
- accounting, treasury and taxation services
- procurement systems and processes that achieve value for money
- business systems and processes to provide financial and performance information to enhance decision-making and the ethical, efficient and effective use of resources
- information technology that is stable, secure and increases connectivity for staff, clients and allies
- systems to monitor, safeguard and enhance property and other assets.
Information on Austrade's financial performance is available on page 125.
Austrade manages an overseas and domestic property portfolio of 162 leased commercial and residential properties. The portfolio comprises properties leased from the Overseas Property Office within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and from private sector landlords.
In 2011–12, security upgrade and other property fit-out projects improved the safety and security of Austrade staff, customers and assets, and 15 security and property fit-outs were completed.
Austrade negotiated 21 new leases and renewed 53 leases as part of the ongoing management of its property portfolio.
Austrade managed its property portfolio in accordance with government policies and guidelines, and identified opportunities for maximising efficiencies and cost effectiveness. This was achieved by a combination of the appropriate rationalisation of surplus space and cost reduction while complying with work health and safety legislation, and relevant building codes and standards.
Business continuity planning
Austrade continued to strengthen its integrated business continuity management framework throughout 2011–12.
Austrade's business continuity plans were reviewed and tested under a scenario-based program. This quality assurance initiative enhanced staff awareness of potential risks to Austrade's business, and enabled best practice and lessons learned to be embedded across the agency.
Austrade continued to work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure consistency in business continuity plan templates and testing mechanisms.
The business continuity framework supported effective decision-making and enabled actions to be taken quickly to ensure the safety of staff, the welfare of Australians abroad and the efficient recovery of Austrade's business.
In 2011–12, several events required the activation of business continuity plans, including in preparations in March 2012 for a public protest outside the Austrade-managed Consulate-General in Sao Paulo, Brazil; and in response to widespread flooding in Fiji in March and April 2012.
Precautions taken by Austrade offices ensured the safety of staff and the organisation's resilience when responding to significant incidents.
Austrade undertook two key security activities in 2011–12 as part of its ongoing commitment to a safe and secure working environment for all staff and customers.
The first project involved the implementation of the Australian Government's Protective Security Policy Framework. At 30 June 2012, this project was well underway.
The second initiative was the commissioning of an independent review of Austrade's security policy, processes and procedures. This comprehensive review was completed in March 2012 and the findings of the review were fully endorsed by Austrade's Senior Executive Group.
Austrade's Protective Security Team has continued to work with stakeholders across the organisation and with other relevant agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Defence and the Attorney-General's Department. The team provided enhanced security awareness and training to staff, improved cybersecurity measures and developed the protective security measures required for the establishment of the Austrade-managed offices in Mongolia and Colombia.
The team's work also included security management of Austrade-sponsored trade events and exhibitions, such as the Ozmine 2012 event in Indonesia, and international education and training events in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.
In 2011–12, legal services to Austrade were provided through Austrade's internal legal services team, with the assistance of external law firms.
The nature of the services provided to Austrade covered a range of legal issues in many different locations and jurisdictions. These issues included:
- complex contractual negotiations and drafting, including cooperative agreements with allies, memorandums of understanding and departmental agreements
- specific legal issues applying to facilitating trade in financial services, investment and international education and training
- training on compliance with extraterritorial laws on bribery conventions, international laws and other issues at overseas offices
- commercial litigation and appeals under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 mainly involving appeals under the Export Market Development Grants scheme
- advice, drafting and legal actions involving employment law, commercial contracts, intellectual property, real property and tax, and section 23AF of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
- advice on insurance, legislation, letters of introduction and Austrade-run programs
- compliance with the Legal Services Directions and associated reporting and management of all external legal work
- advice on whole-of-government approaches to operations and policy
- response to complaints, disputes and claims arising from Austrade's day-to-day operations and the delivery of its services.
Austrade's procurement policies and practices reflect the principles set out in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. Austrade's procurement practices focus on:
- value for money
- encouraging competition
- efficient, effective and ethical use of government resources
- accountability and transparency
- compliance with other Australian Government policies.
Austrade's chief executive instructions on procurement reflect these principles and the need for compliance with government policy by all staff when choosing procurement methods, sourcing potential supplies or entering into contracts. As part of these arrangements, in 2011–12, Austrade published details of the following on the AusTender website, www.tenders.gov.au, or the Austrade website www.austrade.gov.au:
- publicly available business opportunities with a value of $80,000 or more on the AusTender website
- actual contracts awarded with a value of $10,000 or more on the AusTender website
- actual contracts with a value of $100,000 or more on the Austrade website, as required by Senate Order 192.
All major contracts let included a requirement for contractors to allow access to their premises by the Australian National Audit Office. Information on expected procurement in 2012–13 is published in Austrade's Annual Procurement Plan, which is available on the AusTender website. It outlines Austrade's planned procurement for the coming year, giving prospective suppliers the opportunity to plan for potential work with the agency.
There were no contracts in 2011–12 that were exempt from being reported on the AusTender website.
Consultants are engaged to provide professional, independent and expert advice or services where Austrade needs specific expertise or where independent assessments or input are considered desirable. Austrade selects consultants in the same way that it procures other goods and services. The value and number of consultancies fluctuates from year to year, reflecting changes in government and Austrade priorities. For further information, see Table 11.
During 2011–12, Austrade entered into 94 new consultancy contracts with a total actual expenditure of $1,910,560. In addition, seven ongoing consultancy contracts were active during 2011–12, involving a total actual expenditure of $164,960. Detailed information on Austrade's consultancies for 2011–12 is available on the AusTender website, www.tenders.gov.au.
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.
|No. of existing consultancies||9||11||7|
|No. of new consultancies||69||74||94|
|Total expenditure ($)||4,058,074||4,363,070||2,075,520|
Note: This table has been prepared following confirmation that all consultancies should be recorded irrespective of value and on actual expenditure. It includes adjustments made as a result of a broader review of Austrade processes and reconciliation with financial payments. The consultancy data has been independently audited.