Part 3: Management and accountability

Corporate governance

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

Enabling legislation

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

We have freedom of information (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.

We are accountable as a non-corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). Our annual reporting responsibilities are under s 46 of the PGPA Act and s30 of the AIC Act. We also have 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

During this reporting period, our Executive team, comprising the Commissioner, Deputy and Assistant Commissioners, met weekly and oversaw all aspects of our business covering corporate management and performance, finance, human resources, governance, risk management, external engagement and business planning.

Risk management

Our risk management framework helped staff to assess risks, make informed decisions and confidently engage with risk.

Our Executive team regularly considered and reviewed the risks the agency faced and the reports on risk received from the Audit Committee.

Fraud

Our fraud control plan, fraud control policy and guidelines were made available to all staff through internal communications channels.

Audit Committee

Our Audit Committee assisted the Commissioner to discharge her responsibilities on the OAIC’s finances and performance, risk oversight and management, and system of internal control. The Audit Committee oversaw the work of our internal auditors, ensured the annual work program was adhered to and ensured appropriate coverage of our strategic and operational risks.

The Audit Committee was chaired by a member of our Executive team and had two independent members. The independent members are employees of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Agency and 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.

See Appendix C for more information on the MOU with the AHRC.

External scrutiny

During this reporting period, there were no judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals that had a significant impact on our operations.

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

Human resources

We strove to provide a workplace that offered fulfilling and challenging work, and promoted the professional and personal development of our staff. As the national expert in both privacy and FOI regulation, we relied on a team of highly skilled and competent staff.

In 2018–19, we continued to build the capacity of existing staff, to develop the necessary skill sets 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, we continued to face challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled people. We used a number of strategies to attract talent including online and social media advertising.

During this reporting period, we had an average staffing level of 85.3. Our staff turnover was approximately 24% for ongoing staff. This involved 19 ongoing staff resigning, retiring or transferring to other Australian Government agencies. We had 20 ongoing staff join us during 2018–19. As of 30 June 2019, we had 89.7 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, including ongoing and non-ongoing employees.

Table 3.1: Staffing profile as at 30 June 2019

Classifications

Male

Female

Full-time

Part-time

Total ongoing

Total non-ongoing

Total

Statutory office holder

1

1

1

1

SES Band 2

1

1

1

1

SES Band 1

1

1

1

1

2

2

Executive Level 2 ($120,356–$137,355)

3

11

7

7

12

2

14

Executive Level 1 ($103,618–$110,840)

5

22

20

7

25

2

27

APS 6 ($82,219–$90,539)

5

24

24

5

26

3

29

APS 5 ($74,563–$78,827)

4

9

10

3

7

6

13

APS 4 ($66,881–$71,064)

5

5

9

1

5

5

10

Total

23

74

73

24

78

19

97

Employment statistics

We have 97 total staff: 73 full-time and 24 part-time; 74 female and 23 male; 31% from a non-English speaking background and 1% Indigenous.

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 financial years.

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

We provided the following components of our learning and development program for staff.

Talking about performance

Our Performance Management and Development scheme ‘Talking about performance’ provided regular and formal assessment of staff members’ work performance and identified 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.

During this reporting period, relevant staff attended specialist training in decision writing, administrative law, conciliation and investigations, auditing skills, leadership and management, plain English, mental health and managing unreasonable complainant conduct.

Study and professional membership assistance

We encouraged staff to undertake study to develop their knowledge and skills in relevant areas. Study assistance provided skilled and knowledgeable staff for our current and future 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 purchased 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
  • screen-based eyesight testing and screen-based prescription glasses reimbursements
  • influenza vaccinations.

Workplace relations

The Fair Work Commission approved our Enterprise Agreement 2016–19 on 5 May 2016. On 7 March 2019, the Commissioner issued the Public Service (Office of the Australian Information Commissioner Non-SES Employees) Determination 2019 made under s 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999. The determination commenced on 13 May 2019 and staff covered by the enterprise agreement received an increase to their existing salary and specified allowances, and will receive further increases in 2020 and 2021.

In 2018–19, no staff received performance pay. Six staff had an individual flexibility arrangement.

OAIC Consultation Forum

The OAIC Consultation Forum provides an opportunity for our staff and their representatives to meet and consider issues relating to working at the OAIC.

Statutory office holder and SES remuneration

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

For information on executive remuneration, see Appendix B.

Workplace diversity

In 2018–19, 31% of staff had a non-English speaking background and 1% identified as Indigenous.

Our Diversity Committee, during this reporting period, was led by an Assistant Commissioner and included representatives from the Regulation and Strategy Branch, Enquiries Line and Dispute Resolution Branch. The Diversity Committee was responsible for driving our wider diversity strategy and coordinating our obligations under Multicultural Access and Equity Reporting.

Work health and safety

We shared expertise and resources on work health and safety (WHS) issues with the AHRC. Our WHS representatives were members of the joint agencies’ WHS Committee. We conducted regular site inspections as a preventative measure and there were no significant incidents reported by staff during this reporting period. All new staff are provided with WHS information upon commencement and ongoing support and assistance is offered to our people.

Procurement

During this reporting period, we complied with the Australian Government’s procurement policy framework. We encouraged competition, value for money, transparency and accountability.

All procurement was conducted in line with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules to ensure the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of Australian Government resources.

During this reporting period, 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.

Consultants

We engaged consultants where we lacked specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment was required.

Typically, we engaged 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 this reporting period, three new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $185,543 (excluding GST). In addition, one ongoing consultancy contract was active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $50,000 (excluding GST).

Before we engaged consultants, we took 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 made relating to consultancy contracts were made in line with the PGPA Act 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 supported small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market and engaged 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 recognised the importance of ensuring that small businesses were paid on time. Our statistics are available in the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business, which is available on the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business’s website.

Other requirements

Advertising and market research

During this reporting period, the OAIC conducted the following advertising campaign: Paid Facebook promotion of consumer resources explaining the privacy controls available at oaic.gov.au.

Grant programs

No grant programs took place in 2018–19.

Fraud

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

Memoranda of understanding

We received funding for specific services under a range of memoranda of understanding, see Appendix C.

Disability reporting

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–20, which set out a 10-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 tracks progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and presents a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these reports can be found at dss.gov.au

Ecologically sustainable development and environment performance

Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires us to report on how our 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.