Management and accountability

Corporate governance

We have a well-defined and effective governance structure. Our peak governing body is the National Management Board, which is supported by a number of operational committees and boards (see Figure 9).

Senior executive roles and responsibilities are outlined in the organisational chart in Section 1.

Figure 9: Governance structure, at 30 June 2018

Main boards and committees

National Management Board

The National Management Board’s role is to assist the Chief Executive to manage our organisation and fulfil the responsibilities of the Inspector-General, Official Receiver, Official Trustee and the Registrar of Personal Property Securities. The board comprises our senior executives and an independent (external) member. It sets our strategic direction, determines appropriate policies and monitors performance for administration and operational service delivery.

The National Management Board met nine times during 2017–18, including two strategic planning meetings.

AFSA’s National Management Board.

Risk and Operations Management Committee

The Risk and Operations Management Committee comprises key operational managers from across the agency and has a specific focus on the development, monitoring and management of our operational plan.

The committee is responsible for coordinating and managing activities in relation to risk and performance. It identifies and, where necessary, escalates the management of issues and risks that have the potential to affect our functions and the achievement of our corporate vision and goals. The Risk and Operations Management Committee supports the National Management Board, the Audit Committee and the Enterprise Risk Manager in overseeing and managing operational risks and performance.

The committee met four times during 2017–18.

AFSA’s Risk and Operations Management Committee.

Audit Committee

Our Audit Committee advises the Chief Executive and the National Management Board on a range of audit and financial practice matters. It has five members: an independent (external) chair, two independent (external) members and two AFSA executives.

In 2017–18, the committee considered the results of our internal and external audits and, importantly, the action taken to respond to auditors’ recommendations. It also monitored our application of, and compliance with, systems and frameworks for ensuring high levels of internal controls, financial reporting, risk management and fraud control.

Audit Committee meetings are ordinarily attended by our internal auditors, the Deputy Chief Executive (as Chief Audit Executive), the Chief Finance Officer, the Chief Information Officer and the Finance Manager. Representatives of the Australian National Audit Office also attend as observers.

Our internal audits test both compliance and performance. Areas of audit focus during 2017–18 included procurement and contract management, project governance, workforce planning, work health and safety, the Personal Property Securities Register cost recovery framework, and our performance reporting framework.

The Audit Committee met four times during 2017–18.

Members of AFSA’s Audit Committee.

National Consultative Committee

Our National Consultative Committee was established to encourage and facilitate an appropriate level of employee input to decision-making, and enable organisational change to be handled effectively and efficiently.

The National Consultative Committee is the forum for consideration of issues such as national policy and practice and matters that will affect all employees. It is supported by site consultative committees, which provide a forum for consideration of workplace issues specific to individual work locations. Information on initiatives conducted during 2017–18 is provided under ‘Management of human resources’ in this section.

Personal Property Securities Register Program Group

The role of the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) Program Group is to coordinate, direct and oversee operational activities in relation to the PPSR.

The PPSR Program Group is responsible for PPSR project initiation, including endorsement of final requirements required in relation to PPSR-related projects. The management and oversight of PPSR project-related operational activities is the responsibility of the Program Board.

The PPSR Program Group is also responsible for providing oversight of risk at a program level.

The group met four times in 2017–18.

ICT Steering Committee

The ICT Steering Committee oversees our technology-based activities to ensure they align with our strategic direction and comply with agreed performance and enterprise architectural standards.

Key roles of the steering committee include providing strategic advice to the National Management Board, reviewing and endorsing frameworks and policies, and ensuring the application of appropriate technology standards.

The committee met five times in 2017–18.

Program Board

The Program Board provides guidance to ensure the strategic alignment and success of our programs. The board monitors the status of projects and associated risks, makes decisions or ensures action on matters presented, appoints business leads to projects, ensures project benefits align to our corporate goals and overall strategic direction, and monitors the financial risks relating to projects through regular reporting.

The Program Board met 11 times in 2017–18.

Digital Transformation Advisory Board

The role of the Digital Transformation Advisory Board is to discover, develop and inform the delivery of AFSA’s digital agenda, which aims to provide tangible, client-centred technology outcomes that are efficient, effective and align with the government’s digital reform agenda.

The board looks for opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of services through increased digitisation, and champions the needs of users through recommendations to improve client experience.

The Digital Transformation Advisory Board met six times in 2017–18.

Corporate and divisional plans

We maintain an integrated planning process, which is initiated at our annual planning workshop. Our 2017–18 corporate plan details our focus for the next four years, and outlines our strategies for achieving our purpose and the way in which we will measure our success. The plan communicates to consumers, businesses, the community and our people our medium-term direction and intended business approach.

Our corporate plan is central to planning our future work – focusing on our reason for being as articulated in our vision, purpose and goals. The priorities, goals and performance measures outlined in our corporate plan cascade down to divisional plans and, ultimately, to individual employee performance and development plans. These linkages provide clarity to employees about the expectations of their role and how their role contributes to the achievement of our organisational purpose and goals.

Managing risk and fraud

We are committed to managing risks to protect our clients and stakeholders, employees and assets, and ensure compliance with our contractual and statutory obligations. We periodically review, assess and update our strategic risks to account for changes in our environment. Our strategic approach to risk management includes an overarching framework and plan that outline how we identify, record, rate and seek to mitigate risk, supported by risk management coordinators and risk registers in each division. Coordinators meet regularly to share experiences, review risk registers and progress risk management initiatives.

We have an internal control framework that complements the risk management framework by describing the relationship between operational controls, management oversight mechanisms and independent assurance. This ‘three lines of defence’ model helps to build a comprehensive picture of controls and oversight mechanisms, and enables any control gaps to be more easily identified. We are building our capability to do this more efficiently through documented assurance mapping processes.

We are committed to adopting a strategic, consistent and structured agency-wide approach to risk management in order to achieve an appropriate balance between realising opportunities for gains and minimising losses.

We have a fraud control plan that conforms with the requirements of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Framework and with the fraud control framework prescribed in the Australian National Audit Office better practice guide Fraud control in Australian Government entities. The plan documents our approach to controlling fraud at a strategic, operational and tactical level, and encompasses prevention, detection, investigation and reporting measures.

Compliance reporting

In 2017–18, we did not report any significant issues relating to noncompliance with the finance law to the Attorney-General under paragraph 19(1)(e) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

External scrutiny

There were no significant developments in external scrutiny affecting our agency during 2017–18.

There were no judicial decisions, decisions of administrative tribunals, or decisions by the Australian Information Commissioner that had a significant impact on our operations.

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

Management of human resources

In 2017–18, we continued our program of work based on the reviews of human resource practice we undertook in 2016–17. We implemented a significant number of new and redesigned workforce initiatives to enhance the capability of our people and to optimise our practices against the strategic objectives of AFSA.

Our workforce-related initiatives focused on people management capability with the introduction of a new approach to individual and team performance. We implemented AFSA’s inaugural wellbeing strategy and continued to mature our strategic workforce planning approach. We improved our data and analytics capability to support evidence-based decision-making, and implemented new diversity and inclusion initiatives.

During the year, our workforce decreased by 1.2%, from 520 to 514 employees. This decrease in headcount was due to efficiencies, with AFSA remaining within the average staffing level cap.

People Strategy 2020

Our People Strategy 2020 entered the second year of its three-year plan and remains an ambitious and transformative agenda for us. It addresses key strategic people issues with initiatives designed to build an organisation that attracts, retains and develops a highly skilled, engaged and adaptable workforce that delivers high-quality outcomes.

We achieved some significant outcomes against the strategy in 2017–18. Our novel approach to workplace consultation, called ‘Creativity in the Sandpit’, received industry recognition and resulted in us winning the Innovative HR Teams 2018 award from Human Resources Director Australia magazine. This ‘sandpit’ method provides a means for us to collaborate on important issues and has assisted us in developing a new approach to performance management and our new talent management system.

We released our inaugural Wellbeing@AFSA framework, built around six pillars of health (physical, mental, career, social, community and financial). The framework embraces principles of sustainable employability to equip our people with a range of tools to support them in all elements of their life. Further information about this framework can be found on pages 76–77.

Performance management

Following an employee-led review of performance management in 2016–17, we developed a new approach to performance management known as DRIVE. Endorsed by the National Management Board, DRIVE aims to improve the capabilities, performance and potential of employees, and the ability of employees to achieve organisational outcomes. By improving the quality of conversations between employees and managers, we hope to see an increase in performance and engagement.

A multidisciplinary team has worked hard to develop policies, guidelines, training and system enhancements in support of the process. We have also invested significant effort in preparing our staff for this cultural change.

Workforce planning

Workforce planning, supported by insights from workforce data analysis and analytical modelling, is a foundation of the People Strategy 2020, informing workforce management practices, initiatives and strategies.

During 2017–18, we continued to build our workforce planning capability to ensure we have a strategically aligned workforce to deliver improved and equitable outcomes for our clients. We implemented our Strategic Workforce Plan 2017–2020, which focuses on workforce risk identification and mitigation across four pillars: staffing capacity, workforce capability, service delivery and management structures, and culture and wellbeing.

We matured our succession planning and divisional workforce planning, allowing us to identify initiatives to reduce workforce risks, and plan longer term workforce development in line with our strategic priorities. To support this capability development, we implemented detailed and timely workforce information, metrics and key performance indicators through online operational reports, manager dashboards and interactive storyline workforce analyses. Ongoing use of technology helps us identify workforce risks during workforce planning discussions and day-to-day workforce management.

During 2017–18, we invested in building evidence-based workforce decision-making capability across the agency under the #WorkforceAnalytics program of work. Our workforce planning and workforce analytics functions have garnered interest across the public sector and the Australian human resources community. We are an active contributor in workforce planning and analytics conversations within the Australian Public Service (APS) and beyond, showcasing our work in various forums under the outreach component of the People Strategy 2020.

Capability development

Integral to building an organisation that attracts, retains and develops a highly skilled and engaged workforce is our capability development program. In 2017–18, we used evidence gained from our workforce planning processes and initiatives to deliver a targeted development program.

Our primary development initiatives focused on contemporary APS core skills, as well as driving our workforce towards future capability needs. Capabilities addressed included performance management, leadership, parliamentary processes, resilience and wellbeing, governance, critical thinking, and general data literacy and data analytics capability. We offered over 30 face-to-face initiatives, supplementing these with peer learning, and self-paced and on-the-job offerings such as mentoring and e-learning. Whole-of-agency events such as site-based ‘Let’s Talk Data’ sessions and AFSA’s inaugural Data Week were held during the year.

We maintained our commitment to supporting further education for our staff through the provision of study leave and assistance with tertiary course fees under our studies assistance scheme. Approximately 6% of our staff accessed some form of support under this scheme during 2017–18.

A major initiative in 2017–18 was building capability to support our new performance framework. We worked with external providers to develop workshops on topics like having purposeful performance conversations, addressing difficult workplace issues, and developing effective performance goals. Over 235 staff attended these workshops across our offices.

In addition to our development initiatives, we maintained our focus on compliance around governance. Across the year, we had 96.5% compliance with our programs on fraud awareness, security, induction, the APS Values and Code of Conduct, privacy, and contract management.

Values, code of conduct and ethical behaviour

Our corporate plan, client service charter and enterprise agreement play a lead role in reinforcing the requirement for employees to uphold the APS Values and comply with the APS Code of Conduct. The APS Values and Code of Conduct are incorporated into our capability framework and integrated into people and capability practices across recruitment, selection, onboarding, learning and performance.

Information on the APS Values and Code of Conduct is presented to all new employees on commencement through orientation and induction material. Group-based induction further promotes behavioural expectations and training on the APS Values and Code of Conduct. We also deliver online governance modules that embed the requirement to uphold ethical behaviour in the APS. In 2017–18, employees engaged positively with this form of training.

We work hard to build capability, strengthen a values-based culture and create a respectful workplace, and we have formal procedures in place for investigating and determining breaches of the APS Code of Conduct and for handling complaints or reports through public interest disclosures.

Workplace diversity

Our diversity agenda and initiatives aim to create a more inclusive, productive, innovative, creative, engaged and high-performing workplace through excellence in service delivery. Our diversity agenda commits to improving employment outcomes and enhancing workplace culture through inclusive initiatives for Indigenous Australians; people with disability; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex employees; and women in leadership. Our commitment to diversity is strengthened through our holistic approach to gender equality, with a new strategy to be launched in 2018.

Additionally, we recognise and celebrate key dates during the year, such as International Women’s Day, Harmony Day, National Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week, and International Day of People with Disability. We conduct events and facilitate programs throughout the year that highlight our commitment to diversity and inclusion. These programs complement our multicultural plan, reconciliation action plan, Indigenous employment strategy and disability employment strategy.

We successfully partnered with the Australian Public Service Commission to participate in the Jawun APS Secondment Program again in 2017–18. The program enhances the capabilities of Indigenous peoples and communities and encourages valuable learnings to be incorporated back into our business practices. During the year, we have successfully facilitated two secondments under the program in Alice Springs and Broome. Participating staff shared the professional and individual learning experiences gained from the Jawun program to further enhance cultural awareness capability development across AFSA.

During 2017–18, we employed one intern through the Australian Network on Disability’s Stepping Into program, a paid internship designed for university students with disability. We also partnered with Koomarri, an organisation that specialises in placing people with disability into meaningful work, to employ a person with an intellectual disability for a 12-month period.

Figure 10 shows the percentages of AFSA staff who disclosed they have a disability, those who identified as Indigenous, those who identified as from a non-English-speaking background, and those who worked on a part-time basis.

Figure 10: Workplace diversity and part-time employment, at 30 June 2018

Our participation in the 2018 APS Employee Census reflected a positive result for flexibility, cultural and linguistic diversity. Fifty-five per cent of our staff currently access flexible working arrangements, with flexible working hours, and working from home or working away from the office, being the most utilised options.

AFSA has a richly diverse workforce with 29% of our staff born outside of Australia, and 23% speaking a language other than English at home.

Employee consultation

The National Consultative Committee and site consultative committees met to facilitate discussions with employees on administrative and workplace issues, including operational policy and practice changes, organisational change, accommodation and improvement strategies.

Site consultative committees met quarterly in each of our sites during 2017–18, and the National Consultative Committee met twice during the year.

During the year, the site consultative committees and National Consultative Committee provided guidance and endorsement on important local and national initiatives and projects, such as office moves and the reimagined performance management framework.

Employment conditions and agreement-making

The AFSA Enterprise Agreement 2015 remains in effect until 30 December 2018 and sets the employment conditions of all non–Senior Executive Service (SES) employees.

As of 30 June 2018, 507 non-SES employees were covered by the AFSA Enterprise Agreement. The salary ranges available for APS employees were $45,736 (APS 1.1) to $138,522 (Executive Level 2.4) (see Table 8 on page 71 for details). In accordance with the terms of the agreement, a 1% pay increase was implemented on 30 December 2017.

The AFSA Enterprise Agreement 2015 provides our staff members with a range of non-salary benefits, including provisions for flexible working arrangements in accordance with section 65 of the Fair Work Act 2009, flex time, time off in lieu, home-based work, an employee assistance program, family care assistance, and assistance with other work-related expenses.

In 2017–18, a total of 35 employees had their employment arrangements supplemented by individual flexibility arrangements in accordance with clause 7 of the enterprise agreement. All substantive SES employees (not including the Chief Executive) have their employment conditions provided for using determinations made under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Performance pay

Our enterprise agreement and section 24 determinations do not include any provision for performance-based pay or bonuses.

Reward and recognition

As an agency, we encourage reward for, and recognition of, employees who make an exceptional contribution to the delivery of AFSA’s strategic priorities. Each division regularly provides opportunities for formal and informal reward and recognition in accordance with our employee recognition program.

Staffing profile

Table 5 shows the number of employees by classification, gender and location, as well as comparative figures for the previous year. Figures include ongoing, non-ongoing, full-time and part-time employees and employees on leave without pay, but exclude the Chief Executive.

Table 5: Number of employees by classification group, gender and location, at 30 June 2017 and 30 June 2018
Classification Gender NSW ACT Vic. Qld
30 June 2017 30 June 2018 30 June 2017 30 June 2018 30 June 2017 30 June 2018 30 June 2017 30 June 2018
APS 1–4 Male 11 9 2 4 19 19 14 14
Female 19 19 10 6 25 21 27 24
APS 5–6 Male 10 15 25 23 15 14 17 18
Female 27 27 29 30 21 24 25 30
Executive Level 1–2 Male 8 9 31 37 10 12 17 10
Female 9 8 26 24 4 3 9 8
Senior Executive Service Male 1 1 4 3 1 1 0 0
Female 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Total   85 88 127 128 95 94 109 104
Classification Gender SA WA Tas. Total
30 June 2017 30 June 2018 30 June 2017 30 June 2018 30 June 2017 30 June 2018 30 June 2017 30 June 2018
APS 1–4 Male 8 8 0 0 0 0 54 54
Female 43 40 0 0 0 0 124 110
APS 5–6 Male 12 8 1 1 3 4 83 83
Female 20 25 0 0 2 2 124 138
Executive Level 1–2 Male 4 3 1 1 1 0 72 72
Female 8 7 0 0 0 0 56 50
Senior Executive Service Male 0 1 0 0 0 0 6 6
Female 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Total   96 92 2 2 6 6 520 514

Note: Non-SES classifications in this table are reported against actual occupancy as at 30 June and can include employees on higher duties. SES positions reflect substantive positions.

Table 6 shows the number of non-ongoing employees by classification and location. Figures include full-time and part-time employees and employees on leave without pay.

Table 6: Number of non-ongoing employees by classification group and location, at 30 June 2018
Classification NSW ACT Vic. Qld SA WA Tas. Total
APS 1–4 8 2 6 14 0 0 0 30
APS 5–6 3 4 1 0 1 1 0 10
Executive Level 1–2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Total 11 6 7 14 2 1 0 41

Table 7 shows the number of part-time employees by classification group and location. Figures include ongoing and non-ongoing employees and those on leave without pay.

Table 7: Number of part-time employees by classification group and location, at 30 June 2018
Classification NSW ACT Vic. Qld SA WA Tas. Total
APS 1–4 4 2 5 7 25 0 0 43
APS 5–6 5 7 3 2 4 0 1 22
Executive Level 1–2 2 5 0 1 2 0 0 10
Total 11 14 8 10 31 0 1 75

Table 8 shows the salary ranges for non–Senior Executive Service employees under the AFSA Enterprise Agreement 2015.

Table 8: Salary ranges for non–Senior Executive Service employees under the enterprise agreement, at 30 June 2018
Classification Minimum ($) Maximum ($)
APS 1 45,736 50,549
APS 2 51,762 57,397
APS 3 58,956 63,629
APS 4 65,708 71,342
APS 5 73,290 79,154
APS 6 81,125 90,928
Executive Level 1 96,644 113,766
Executive Level 2 117,037 138,522

Table 9 shows the total remuneration package range for Senior Executive Service employees.

Table 9: Total remuneration package range for Senior Executive Service employees, at 30 June 2018
Classification Minimum ($) Maximum ($)
Senior Executive Service 221,707 317,833

Note: The total remuneration package is the total value of Senior Executive Service remuneration, including base salary, employer superannuation contributions and any other benefits or allowances.

Asset management

Our fixed asset base covers a wide range of asset types, including office fit-outs, purchased and internally developed software, and plant and equipment. We actively manage and monitor our assets through asset registers, and conduct an annual stocktake of assets to maintain the accuracy of our records. Valuations are also undertaken on a regular basis to ensure that asset values are fairly represented in the annual financial statements.

Our assets team provides operational guidance to staff and maintains a comprehensive set of asset management policies and procedures that are available to all staff on our intranet.


This section discusses AFSA’s procurement practices, our engagement of consultants, contract matters relating to the Auditor-General and freedom of information, and our initiatives to support small business and Indigenous suppliers.


During 2017–18, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules formed the basis for our procurement practices and procedures. The principles in the rules are reflected in our accountable authority instructions and operational guidance, which are available to all employees on our intranet. We review our accountable authority instructions and operational guidance materials on a regular basis to ensure consistency with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and broad procurement-related policies.

We have a centralised procurement team that coordinates procurement activities and liaises with business areas and financial delegates. The team provides guidance on, and ensures consistency and compliance with, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and other policies. The team also supports other business areas on matters of risk management, probity, specification development and contract management.

The Commonwealth Procurement Rules require entities to report contracts and amendments on AusTender within 42 days of entering into (or amending) a contract. During 2017–18, we reported eight contracts outside of this timeframe due to administrative oversight. We strive to continually improve business processes and controls to improve these figures year on year.


We engage consultants when we require specialist expertise that is not available in house, or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in our decision-making.

Before 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. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and related instruments, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and our accountable authority instructions.

During 2017–18, 13 new consultancy contracts were entered into and five ongoing consultancy contracts were active during this period, involving a total actual expenditure of $2,547,343.25 (inclusive of GST).

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.

Australian National Audit Office access clause

Our standard contract templates include provisions allowing the Auditor-General to access a contractor’s premises. We do not have any contracts that exclude this access provision.

Exempt contracts

We do not have any contracts or any standing offers with a value of more than $10,000 (inclusive of GST) that have been exempted by the Chief Executive from being published on AusTender on the basis that they would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Details of all contracts that we entered into in 2017–18, with a value of $10,000 or more, were published on AusTender in accordance with the reporting requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

We support small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Participation statistics for small and medium-sized enterprises (fewer than 200 employees) and small enterprises (fewer than 20 employees) are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

Our procurement-related initiatives that support small business include:

  • use of the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
  • use of credit cards for low-risk procurements valued under $10,000
  • participation in whole-of-government arrangements where applicable
  • adherence to the small business engagement principles (outlined in the government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda), such as communicating in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format
  • use of financial management information systems to facilitate on-time payment.

In addition, we are committed to meeting our annual Indigenous Procurement Policy targets with the aim of driving demand for goods and services provided by Indigenous suppliers, stimulating Indigenous economic development and growing the Indigenous business sector.

A key target in the Indigenous Procurement Policy is for 3% of new domestic Commonwealth contracts to be awarded to Indigenous suppliers by 2020. During 2017–18, AFSA awarded 3.14% of our domestic contracts to Indigenous suppliers.