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Part 3 Management and accountability

Corporate governance

Setting strategic direction, implementing effective policies and processes, and monitoring progress are key elements of OAIC’s corporate governance framework.

Enabling legislation

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner was established in November 2010 as an independent statutory agency under the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 (AIC Act). The OAIC is responsible for privacy functions that are conferred by the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and other laws.

The OAIC has FOI functions, including the oversight of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and review of decisions made by agencies and ministers under that Act.

The OAIC is accountable as a non-corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). The OAIC has annual reporting responsibilities under section 46 of the PGPA Act. It also has a range of reporting and other responsibilities under legislation generally applicable to Commonwealth government authorities.

Portfolio structure and responsible minister

The OAIC is a statutory authority within the Attorney-General’s Department. The minister responsible is Senator the Hon George Brandis QC.

Executive

The OAIC Executive, comprising the Commissioner, Deputy and Assistant Commissioners, meets weekly and oversees all aspects of the OAIC’s business covering business management and performance, finance, human resources, governance, risk management, external engagement and business planning.

Risk management

Our risk management framework helps staff assess risks, make informed decisions, confidently engage with risk and harness its opportunities.

The OAIC Executive regularly considers and reviews the risks faced by the agency and the reports on risk received from the Audit Committee.

This year, in preparation for the implementation of the Australian Public Service (APS) Privacy Governance Code and the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, we have highlighted the need to regularly review all activities associated with implementation to ensure that any identified risks are mitigated.

Audit committee

Our audit committee assists the Commissioner to discharge his responsibilities on the OAIC’s finances and performance, risk oversight and management, and system of internal control. The Audit Committee oversees the work of the OAIC’s internal auditors, ensures the Annual Work Program and ensures appropriate coverage of our strategic and operational risks.

The Audit Committee is chaired by the Assistant Commissioner Dispute Resolution and has two independent members from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. Representatives from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) attend meetings of the Audit Committee as observers.

Corporate services

We have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the AHRC that covers the provision of corporate services. This includes financial, administrative, information and communications technology and human resources services. We also sublease our premises in Sydney from the AHRC under this arrangement. More information on the OAIC’s MOU with the AHRC can be found in Appendix B.

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Human resources

At the OAIC we strive to provide a workplace that offers fulfilling and challenging work, as well as promoting the professional and personal development of our employees. As the national expert in both personal information and FOI regulation, we rely on a team of highly skilled and competent staff.

In 2016–17, the OAIC continued to build capacity within the existing workforce, developing the necessary skillsets to meet the heightened demands for privacy and information management for the Australian public, government agencies and wider industry.

Our people

As a small agency in a competitive market, the OAIC continues to face challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled people. We use a number of strategies including online and social media advertising to attract talent.

This year we had an average staffing level of 71. During the year turnover was approximately 13.4% per cent for ongoing staff. This involved eleven ongoing staff resigning, retiring or transferring to other Australian Government agencies. We had twelve ongoing staff join the OAIC during the year. As of 30 June 2017, we had 74.37 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, including ongoing and non-ongoing employees.

Table 11: Staffing profile as at 30 June 2017 (headcount)
Classifications Male Female Full time Part time Total ongoing Total non-ongoing Total
Statutory Office Holders 1 0 1 0 0 1 1
SES Band 1 1 1 1 1 2 0 2
SES Band 2 0 1 1 0 1 0 1
Executive Level 2
($116,828-$133,328)
2 7 4 5 8 1 9
Executive Level 1
($100,580-$107,591)
6 15 17 4 19 2 21
APS 6
($79,809-$87,885)
8 27 29 6 34 1 35
APS 5
($72,377-$76,516)
1 7 3 5 6 2 8
APS 4
($64,921-$68,981)
2 2 4 0 4 0 4
APS 3
(56,454-60,931)
0 1 1 0 0 1 1
Total 21 61 61 21 74 8 82

Employment stats

Our staff

  • Total staff: 82

Employment type

  • Full-time: 61
  • Part-time: 21
Gender
  • Female: 61
  • Male: 21

Diversity

  • Non-English speaking background: 22%
  • Indigenous: 1.2%

Organisational changes

This year there were a number of senior internal promotions. Ms Angelene Falk was promoted to Deputy Commissioner, overseeing the OAIC’s corporate and communication functions and organisational strategic direction. Ms Falk was previously the Assistant Commissioner, Regulation and Strategy at the OAIC.

Mr Andrew Solomon was promoted to the position of Assistant Commissioner, Dispute Resolution and Ms Melanie Drayton to the position of Assistant Commissioner, Regulation and Strategy.

A temporary Business Improvement team was also established to review the OAIC’s corporate governance frameworks and implement new policy and procedures in risk management, fraud control and business continuity. The team reviewed and improved the OAIC’s HR, IT, records management and other associated policies and procedures.

Learning and development

We are committed to ongoing learning and development of our staff, recognising the importance of building and developing capabilities to meet current and future needs.

Our work is increasingly becoming more technical as the digital environment becomes more complex, and we are also seeing more complex and substantive complaints and investigations compared to previous years.

Staff are able to access a range of learning and development opportunities in line with the Australian Public Service Commission’s 70–20–10 model of learning.

The OAIC provides the following components as part of its learning and development program for staff.

Talking about performance (TAP)

The OAIC’s Performance Management and Development Scheme ‘Talking about performance’ provides regular and formal assessment of staff members’ work performance and to identify learning and development needs.

Professional skills development

Staff undertake specialised training to ensure they are continuously building on their subject-matter expertise and able to access the latest information from industry and government.

This year relevant staff attended specialist training in conciliation, investigations, mediation,auditing skills, and report writing.

Mentoring program

The mentoring program aims to create productive professional relationships that allow knowledge, insights and assistance to be shared between more experienced people — mentors — and less experienced people — mentees. Three Executive members act as mentors as part of the program: the Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner Dispute Resolution, and Assistant Commissioner Regulation and Strategy.

Study and professional membership assistance

The OAIC encourages staff to undertake study to develop their knowledge and skills in relevant areas. Study assistance provide skilled and knowledgeable staff for current and future OAIC requirements and supports staff in meeting their learning and development needs.

Benefits

We offer our people the following non-salary related benefits:

  • flexible working arrangements including home-based work where appropriate
  • employee assistance program
  • extended purchase leave
  • maternity and adoption leave
  • parental leave
  • leave for personal compelling reasons and exceptional circumstances
  • access to paid leave at half pay
  • flextime (APS staff)
  • study assistance
  • support for professional and personal development
  • healthy lifestyle reimbursement
  • eyesight testing and reimbursement of prescription glasses
  • family care rooms
  • influenza vaccinations.

Workplace relations

The OAIC’s Enterprise Agreement 2016–19 was approved by the Fair Work Commission on 5 May 2016.

In 2016–17, no staff received performance pay or were under any individual flexibility arrangements, Australian workplace agreements or common law contracts.

OAIC Consultation Forum

The OAIC Consultation Forum (held twice a year) provides an opportunity for the OAIC, its employees and their representatives to meet and consider issues relating to working at the OAIC.

Statutory Office Holder and SES remuneration

The terms and conditions of the OAIC’s statutory office holder is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. Remuneration for the OAIC’s Senior Executive Service (SES) officers is governed by determinations made by the Commissioner under s 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Workplace diversity

We recognise the importance of reflecting the community we serve through diversity in staffing. Currently 22% of staff have a non-English speaking background and 1.2% identify as Indigenous.

In 2016–17 the OAIC established a Diversity Committee which is led by the Assistant Commissioner, Dispute Resolution and includes representatives from the Regulation and Strategy Branch, enquiries line, Dispute Resolution Branch and the Strategic Communications and Coordination and Business Improvement sections. The Committee is responsible for driving the OAIC’s wider diversity strategy and coordinating the OAIC’s obligations under Multicultural Access and Equity Reporting.

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, government agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.

Work health and safety

We share expertise and resources on Work Health and Safety (WHS) issues with the AHRC. Our WHS representatives are members of the joint agencies’ WHS Committee. We conduct regular site inspections as a preventative measure and there have been no incidents reported over the last year. All new staff are provided with WHS information upon commencement and ongoing support and assistance is offered to our people.

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Procurement

In 2016–17, we complied with the government’s purchasing policies as stated in the Commonwealth Government Procurement Rules. We encourage competition, value for money, transparency and accountability.

All contracts were awarded after ensuring the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of Australian Government resources.

In 2016–17, no contracts were exempt from reporting on AusTender on the basis that publishing contract details would disclose exempt matters under the FOI Act. All awarded contracts valued at $100,000 (GST inclusive) or greater contained standard clauses granting the Auditor-General access to contractor’s premises.

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.

Consultants

We engage consultants where we lack specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment is required.

Typically, we only engage consultants to:

  • investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem
  • carry out defined reviews or evaluations
  • provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist with our decision making.

During 2016–17, we entered into two consultancy contracts. The total actual expenditure for these contracts were $28,340.00 (excluding GST). No consultancy contracts from previous periods were continued into this period.

Prior to engaging consultants, we take into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise. Additionally, all the decisions that we make relating to consultancy contracts are made in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and related regulations including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

This report contains information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.

Small business

We support small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market and engage with small businesses wherever appropriate during our work. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website. We also recognise the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website.

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Other requirements

Advertising and market research

During 2016–17 we conducted the following advertising campaign:

The OAIC entered into a contract with Wallis Consulting Group to conduct the 2017 Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (a national survey into Australian’s attitudes and behaviours around privacy issues) and to produce a report on the results. The total spend was $136,363.65 (GST exclusive). Further information on the survey is available on the OAIC website. The open tender was published on AusTender.

Grant programs

No grant programs took place during 2016–17.

Fraud

We have a fraud control plan, fraud control policy and guidelines which are made available to all staff through internal communication channels.

Memoranda of understanding

We receive funding for specific services under a range of memoranda of understanding. Details can be found at Appendix B.

Disability reporting

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, government departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a ten-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high level two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the Strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports can be found at www.dss.gov.au.

Ecologically sustainable development and environment performance

Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires the OAIC to report on how its activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD). Our role and activities do not directly link with the principles of ESD or impact on the environment other than through our business operations in the consumption of resources required to sustain our operations. We use energy saving methods in the OAIC’s operation and endeavour to make the best use of resources.

Information Publication Scheme

As required by the Freedom of Information Act 1982, we have an Information Publication Scheme entry on our website (www.oaic.gov.au) that provides information on our structure, functions, appointments, annual reports, consultation arrangements, FOI officer, information we routinely release following FOI requests and information we routinely provide to the Australian Parliament.

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