Part 3 — Management and accountability

Publication date: 2018

Corporate governance

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

Enabling legislation

The OAIC 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 Australian Government authorities.

Portfolio structure and responsible minister

The OAIC is a statutory authority within the Attorney-General’s portfolio. The minister responsible is the Hon Christian Porter MP.

Executive

The OAIC Executive, comprising the Commissioner, Deputy and Assistant Commissioners, meets weekly and oversees all aspects of the OAIC’s business covering corporate 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.

Audit Committee

Our Audit Committee assists the Commissioner to discharge their 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 is adhered to and ensures appropriate coverage of our strategic and operational risks.

The Audit Committee is chaired by a member of the OAIC Executive and has two independent members. During the year the independent member from the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security was replaced by the National Disability Insurance Scheme Agency. The second independent member is from the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). 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.

External scrutiny

In September 2017 the ANAO published its performance audit report into the Administration of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 which was an across agency audit including the OAIC.

In our response to the report we said:

‘The OAIC welcomes external scrutiny of its operations and will seek to use the useful engagement we have had with the ANAO during the course of this audit, and the contents of the report, to assist us in our continuous endeavours to improve our operations in accordance with our statutory responsibilities to the benefit of the Australian community.

The OAIC also welcomes the acknowledgement in the report the OAIC has been through a sustained period of uncertainty between the 2014 and 2016 budgets, when responsibility for undertaking a large slice of the OAIC’s FOI functions and associated resourcing was withdrawn from the OAIC and distributed to other agencies. Now that that period is behind us the OAIC is pursuing all of its statutory FOI regulatory activity, taking into account our resourcing and balancing our priorities across all of our statutory functions.

The OAIC agrees with the ANAO’s recommendation to create an FOI regulatory action policy. The OAIC’s 2017–18 Corporate Plan contains a commitment to develop an FOI regulatory action policy. Although aspects of such a document are already contained in the FOI Guidelines the OAIC acknowledges that pulling this information together and expanding on it in a single policy document will assist agencies and the public better understand the OAIC’s approach to its FOI regulatory activity.’


The OAIC’s FOI regulatory action policy was published in February 2018 and is available on our website.

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 privacy and FOI regulation, we rely on a team of highly skilled and competent staff.

In 2017–18, 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 75. During the year turnover was approximately 20.5% for ongoing staff. This involved fifteen ongoing staff resigning, retiring or transferring to other Australian Government agencies. We had thirteen ongoing staff join the OAIC during the year. As of 30 June 2018, we had 81.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, including ongoing and non-ongoing employees.

Table 10 — Staffing profile as at 30 June 2018
ClassificationsMaleFemaleFull-timePart-timeTotal ongoingTotal non-ongoingTotal
Total 18 73 71 20 73 18 91
Statutory Office Holders[*] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
SES Band 2 0 1 1 0 1 0 1
SES Band 1 1 1 1 1 2 0 2
Executive Level 2 ($117,996–$134,662) 1 8 5 4 8 1 9
Executive Level 1 ($101,586–$108,667) 5 17 14 8 19 3 22
APS 6 ($80,607–$88,764) 5 35 37 3 34 6 40
APS 5 ($73,101–$77,281) 3 5 4 4 3 5 8
APS 4 ($65,570–$69,671) 3 6 9 0 6 3 9

[*] The Statutory Office Holder position was vacant following the retirement of the Australian Information Commissioner and was filled on a temporary basis from 24 March to 30 June 2018 (Angelene Falk was appointed to the position on 16 August 2018 for a three year term).

Employment statistics

Total staff: 91. Full-time: 71. Part-time: 20. Female: 73. Male: 18. Non-english speaking background: 22%. Indigenous: 1.1%.

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 decision writing, administrative and public law, statutory conciliation and investigation, mediation, plain English language, managing unreasonable complainant conduct, leadership and management, auditing skills and report writing.

Study and professional membership assistance

The OAIC encourages staff to undertake study to develop their knowledge and skills in relevant areas. Study assistance provides 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 2017–18, seven Executive members and other staff received performance pay or were under individual flexibility arrangements, Australian workplace agreements or common law contracts.

OAIC Consultation Forum

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

Workplace diversity

Currently 22% of staff have a non-English speaking background and 1.1% identify as Indigenous.

In 2016–17 the OAIC established a Diversity Committee which is led by the acting Deputy Commissioner and includes representatives from the Regulation and Strategy Branch, enquiries line, Dispute Resolution Branch and the Strategic Communications and Coordination 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.

Work health and safety

We share expertise and resources on Work Health and Safety (WHS) issues with the Australian Human Rights Commission. 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 significant incidents reported by staff over the past year. All new staff are provided with WHS information upon commencement and ongoing support and assistance is offered to our people.

Procurement

In 2017–18, we complied with the government’s purchasing policies as stated in the Commonwealth 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 2017–18, 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 contractors’ 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 2017–18, we entered into four consultancy contracts. The total actual expenditure for these contracts was $239,693 (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. 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

The OAIC supports 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.

Other requirements

Advertising and market research

During 2017–18 we conducted the following survey:

The OAIC entered into a contract with Orima Research to conduct the 2018 Information Publication Scheme (IPS) Survey of Australian Government agencies that are subject to the FOI Act. The survey was conducted by Orima on behalf of the OAIC.

The survey reviewed the operation of the IPS in each agency and also provided agencies with an opportunity to comply with the requirement to conduct a review under section 9 of the FOI Act. The total spend was $92,393 (GST exclusive). The open tender was published on AusTender. Further information is on the OAIC website and the survey results will be published in the 2018–19 financial year.

Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.

Grant programs

No grant programs took place during 2017–18.

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, Australian Government 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. Our role and activities do not directly link with the principles of ecologically sustainable development or impact on the environment, other than through our business operations regarding 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 FOI Act, we have an Information Publication Scheme entry on our website 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.