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Chapter 7: Management and accountability

Corporate Governance

A range of corporate governance challenges faced the OAIC this year, arising from the establishment of the OAIC and the transition of the former OPC into the OAIC. The challenges included establishing a robust corporate governance framework for the new entity, adapting elements of the OPC's framework to meet the new agency's needs, establishing new property leases in Sydney and Canberra and managing a significant recruitment exercise to staff the OAIC.

In addressing these challenges, the OAIC was assisted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). Building on long term arrangements between the OPC and the AHRC, the OAIC has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the AHRC which covers the provision of corporate services to the OAIC. This includes financial, administrative, information and communications technology and human resources services. The OAIC also sub-leases its premises in Sydney from the AHRC under this arrangement.

Priority elements of the governance framework in place from 1 November 2010 included appropriate financial and human resources authorisations and delegations, Chief Executive Instructions and accounting and financial management structures. The OAIC is progressively reviewing all elements of its governance framework inherited from OPC. This work will be completed in 2011-12.

The OAIC operates two standing committees - the Audit Committee and the Executive Committee.

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Audit Committee

The OAIC adopted the audit committee arrangements established by the OPC. The Audit Committee's objective is to provide the Information Commissioner with independent assurance and assistance on the OAIC's risk, control and accountability responsibilities. The Committee oversees the work of the OAIC's internal auditors, and ensures the Strategic Internal Audit Workplan provides appropriate coverage of the OAIC's strategic and operational risks.

The Audit Committee is chaired by the Assistant Commissioner Operations, and has two independent members from the AHRC. The AHRC provides secretariat support to the Committee, and the OAIC's internal auditors and representatives from the Australian National Audit Office attend meetings of the Audit Committee as observers. The Committee meets quarterly.

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Executive Committee

The Executive Committee, comprising the Information Commissioner, Privacy Commissioner, Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner and the three Assistant Commissioners, meets weekly and oversees all aspects of OAIC business.

The Committee's standing agenda covers business management and performance, finance, human resources, external engagement and business planning. Key focus areas this year included the establishment of the OAIC's operations and governance framework, the relocation of the OAIC's Sydney site and negotiations for developing the OAIC's Enterprise Agreement.

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External scrutiny

During the year, there were no judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals that had a significant impact on the operations of the OAIC.

There were no reports on the operations of the OPC or OAIC by the Auditor-General, a parliamentary committee or the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

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Strategic and business planning

During its first months of operation, the OAIC undertook a process to develop its first strategic plan. This process was led by the Leadership Group, made up of the Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners and Directors, and involved consultation with all staff.

The Strategic Plan 2011-2014 sets out the OAIC's vision, purpose and values. The strategic goals contained in the plan underpin branch business plans for the 2011-12 year. These plans will form the basis of performance reporting for the OAIC in next year's Annual Report.

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Ethical standards

As part of implementing a new governance framework, the OAIC adopted new delegations on personnel and related matters, financial authorisations and delegations and Chief Executive Instructions. These are available to all staff on the OAIC's intranet.

In its strategic and business planning processes, the OAIC developed a statement of leadership expectations and a set of values which complement the APS Values and Code of Conduct. Both were developed with the input of staff and leaders.

The OAIC is progressively reviewing the rest of its governance framework to ensure it supports the maintenance of appropriate ethical standards.

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Risk

With the assistance of its internal auditors, the Executive Committee undertook a strategic and operational risk assessment. The assessment will form the basis of the Risk Management Plan to be finalised in 2011-12.

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Statutory office holder and SES remuneration

The terms and conditions of the OAIC's statutory office holders - the Information Commissioner, Privacy Commissioner and FOI Commissioner - are determined by the Remuneration Tribunal.

The OPC had one SES officer on an Australian Workplace Agreement. Two further SES officers were recruited by the OPC in preparation for the establishment of the OAIC.

Remuneration for the OAIC's three SES officers is now governed by determinations made by the Information Commissioner under s 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

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People management

The key human resources management challenges this year for the OAIC were to integrate the staff of the former OPC into the new agency, establish a new site in Canberra and relocate to new premises in Sydney.

Prior to the establishment of the OAIC, a Taskforce was set up by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to work with the Information Commissioner Designate to prepare for the launch of the OAIC. A number of staff were recruited by PM&C to work on the Taskforce; those details are not included in the staffing information provided in this report.

The following information covers the whole of the year, incorporating the OPC and the OAIC unless otherwise indicated.

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Staffing profile

The OAIC's average staffing level for 2010-11 was 75.26 staff, with a turnover of approximately 9.3% for ongoing staff. Seven ongoing staff either resigned or transferred to other Australian Government agencies. Nineteen ongoing staff were employed.

For the period 1 July to 31 October 2010, the OPC's average staffing level was 56.7 staff.

As at 30 June 2011, the OAIC had a total of 78.87 FTE staff, including both ongoing and non-ongoing employees. An overview of the OAIC's staffing profile as at 30 June 2011 is summarised in Table 7.1. There were no casual staff employed as at 30 June 2011.

Table 7.1 Overview of Staffing Profile as at 30 June 2011
Classification Male Female Full Time Part Time Total Ongoing Total Non-ongoing Total
Statutory Office Holder 3 - 3 - - 3 3
SES Band 2 - - - - - - -
SES Band 1 1 2 3 - 3 - 3
EL 2 ($97,620-$112,428) 3 9 8 4 11 1 12
EL 1 ($84,641-$92,819) 5 13 16 2 16 2 18
APS 6 ($67,665-$75,842) 9 24 27 6 32 1 33
APS 5 ($61,129-$66,024) 5 8 13 - 12 1 13
APS 4 ($54,805-$59,509) 2 2 4 - 4 - 4
APS 3 ($49,175-$53,075) 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
APS 2 ($44,361-$47,877) - - - - - - -
APS 1 ($38,149-$43,254) - - - - - - -
Total 29 58 75 12 79 8 87

As at 30 June 2011, the OAIC had 18 staff located in Canberra and 69 staff located in Sydney. Thirteen ongoing staff had part-time or flexible working arrangements in place.

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Workplace diversity

The OAIC recognises the importance of reflecting the community it serves through diversity in staffing. Currently 5.7% of staff come from a non-English speaking background and the OAIC supports one Indigenous cadet.

The OAIC participates in a joint Workplace Diversity Committee with the AHRC. Throughout the year, the OAIC promoted and supported events including International Women's Day, NAIDOC Week, and Harmony Day. Other strategies under the Workplace Diversity Plan focus on flexible and family friendly workplace policies.

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Indigenous cadetship

Photograph of the Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim and Merinda Dutton

Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim and Merinda Dutton, January 2011.

Merinda Dutton joined the OAIC for a cadetship from November 2010 to February 2011. The cadetship consisted of three, four-week placements with the Policy, Operations and Compliance Branches.

Merinda is from the Gumbaynggirr Nation and is in the third year of a combined Jurisprudence/Law degree at the University of NSW. She completed a variety of tasks during her time at the office including completing case notes, policy research, complaint handling, developing an Indigenous Communications Strategy and assisting with preliminary work on Privacy Awareness Week 2011.

Merinda will join the OAIC again in November 2011.

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Remuneration

Staff members at the OAIC are employed under s 22 of the Public Service Act 1999. Existing OPC staff and newly employed OAIC staff were covered by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner Certified Agreement 2009-2011. Negotiations on a new enterprise agreement commenced with staff in March and were expected to be concluded in July 2011. Salary ranges for the current Certified Agreement are reflected in Table 7.1.

The OPC had seven staff covered by individual flexibility agreements through s24(1) Determinations. All seven transferred under these agreements to the OAIC.

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Performance pay

The OAIC had no performance pay arrangements in place.

Four OPC staff received performance bonuses, totalling $27,760.

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Occupational health and safety

The OAIC and the AHRC are co-located in Sydney and share expertise and resources on Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) issues. The OAIC's Health and Safety representative is a member of the joint agencies' OH&S Committee. The OAIC conducts regular site inspections as a preventative measure and there have been no incidents reported over the last year.

All new staff are provided with OH&S information upon commencement and ongoing support and assistance on OH&S and ergonomic issues is provided to all staff.

Due to the relocation of premises this year, all OAIC staff in Sydney and Canberra were provided with workplace assessments for the identification and resolution of ergonomic issues. The OAIC also offered flu vaccinations for interested staff.

The OAIC provides a Healthy Lifestyle Allowance under the Certified Agreement to promote health and fitness as a means of achieving work/life balance and improving productivity. The OAIC also provides access to independent, confidential counselling services through its Employee Assistance Program. No systemic issues have been identified through this service.

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Learning and development

The OAIC appointed two staff members to an Education team within the Operations Branch. The team has responsibility for external educational policy and strategy development in addition to the delivery of staff training programs.

As part of the establishment of the OAIC, 46 staff of the OPC attended FOI training delivered by the Australian Information Commissioner Designate Taskforce. The Education team of the OAIC also delivered FOI training to 30 staff between February and June 2011.

During the transition to the new organisation, there were a number of internal briefings, forums and training sessions designed to equip staff for their new broader roles.

Team Leaders and Directors were also offered ‘Effective feedback' training to assist them to harness the talents of their staff and provide valuable and timely performance feedback.

The OAIC is developing a Learning and Development Policy that will set the framework for staff development. The need for a Policy was highlighted while negotiations were undertaken for the 2011-2014 Enterprise Agreement.

The OAIC's staff development strategy includes a Studies Assistance policy. The policy provides for support where study is relevant to the work of the OAIC and an individual's work responsibilities and where it assists with professional or career development. In 2010-11, 13 staff were supported to undertake formal external study through study leave, examination leave and/or financial assistance. The policy was undergoing review as part of the enterprise agreement process.

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Changes to disability reporting in annual reports

Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007-08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission's State of the Service Report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. From 2010-11, departments and agencies are no longer required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by a new National Disability Strategy which sets out a 10 year national policy framework for improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers. A high level report to track progress for people with disability at a national level will be produced by the Standing Council on Community, Housing and Disability Services to the Council of Australian Governments and will be available at www.fahcsia.gov.au. The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy agreed by the Government in December 2009 will also include some reporting on disability matters in its regular How Australia is Faring report and, if appropriate, in strategic change indicators in agency Annual Reports. More detail on social inclusion matters can be found at www.socialinclusion.gov.au.

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Finance

The following information on finance and related matters covers the whole of the year, incorporating the OPC and the OAIC unless otherwise indicated.

Separate financial statements are provided for the OPC and the OAIC at Appendix 2 and 4.

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Assets management

The OAIC received $2.16 million in equity funding on establishment. These funds were committed during 2010-11 for an Information Communications Technology (ICT) network and business support database. Office ICT assets are maintained by the AHRC under the MOU. Asset purchases are recorded in a register along with estimates of useful life. These estimates are reviewed annually to ensure an orderly replacement of equipment.

Under the MoU with the AHRC, both agencies utilise spare capacity of the ICT infrastructure established in Canberra for the OAIC and in Sydney for the AHRC, to provide efficient scope for redundancy and back up services to both agencies.

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Purchasing

The OAIC's purchasing procedures comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines issued by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. They address a wide range of purchasing situations, allowing managers flexibility when making purchasing decisions provided arrangements comply with the Australian Government's core procurement principle of value for money.

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Consultants

During 2010-11, the OPC entered into one new consultancy contract, involving total actual expenditure of $22,000. The OAIC did not enter into any consultancy contracts.

Table 7.2 Consultancy Contracts of $10,000 or more let during 2010-11
Consultant name Description Contract price Selection process Justification
Alcheme P/L Security assistance with OAIC protected network project $22,000 Direct sourcing[*] B[†]
Total Not applicable $22,000 Not applicable Not applicable

[*] Direct sourcing: A form of restricted tendering, available only under certain defined circumstances, with a single potential supplier or suppliers being invited to bid because of their unique expertise and/or their special ability to supply the goods and/or services sought.

[†] Justification for decision to use consultancy: B - need for specialised or professional skills. Explanation of selection process terms drawn from the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (December 2008).

Annual reports contain information about annual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website www.tenders.gov.au.

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ANAO Access Clauses

No contracts were let during the year for amounts of $100,000 or more with provisions to exempt ANAO access the supplier's premises.

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Advertising and market research

During the reporting period, the OPC and the OAIC did not enter into any market research contracts. The OPC paid $14,763 (including GST) to Adcorp Australia Ltd on non-campaign advertising (recruitment). The OAIC paid $6,554 (including GST) on non-campaign advertising (recruitment). $3,804 was paid to Adcorp Australia Ltd and $2,750 was paid to Fairfax Media.

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Grants Program

The OAIC does not have a grants program.

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Memoranda of Understanding

The OAIC receives funding for specific services under a range of memoranda of understanding (MOUs). Details of financial and non-financial MOUs are at Appendix 6.

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Environment

The role and activities of the OAIC do not directly link with the principles of ecologically sustainable development or impact on the environment other than through its business operations in the consumption of resources required to sustain its operations.

The OAIC uses energy saving methods in its operation and endeavours to make the best use of resources. During 2010-11, the OAIC entered into a new 10 year sublease for premises in Sydney. The lease includes the mandatory Green Lease Schedule for 4.5 star Australian Building Greenhouse Performance.

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