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Department of the Environment and Water Resources annual report 2006–07

Volume one
Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2007
ISSN 1441-9335

Managing the department

Corporate governance

The department is committed to sound governance and has established a comprehensive range of mechanisms and documentation to ensure effective and efficient delivery of the government's policies and programmes, and to control and safeguard the organisation's business systems and assets.

Senior executive and responsibilities

The secretary, Mr David Borthwick, is the chief executive officer of the department. He is assisted in the management of the organisation by an executive team of four deputy secretaries and 14 division heads. The names and responsibilities of the division heads are shown in the organisation chart in the executive summary.

Senior executive team

 Mr David Borthwick

Mr David Borthwick is the secretary of the department. He was appointed in February 2004. Mr Borthwick previously worked in the senior executive service in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Health and Ageing, and Treasury. In these positions, Mr Borthwick was responsible for a broad range of policy areas including health, national and international economics, corporate law and finance. In 1991 Mr Borthwick was appointed to serve as Australia's ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. Mr Borthwick has a background in economics.

Mr Howard Bamsey

Mr Howard Bamsey is the deputy secretary responsible for the Australian Antarctic Division; and for the Industry, Communities and Energy Division and the International, Land and Analysis Division, which make up the Australian Greenhouse Office. Mr Bamsey has been with the department since 1997. He was appointed the chief executive of the Australian Greenhouse Office in April 2003. Mr Bamsey has had a distinguished international career in leading Australian delegations on international environment issues, including climate change. Mr Bamsey has been the Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations at Geneva, and Ambassador for the Environment.

Ms Anthea Tinney

Ms Anthea Tinney is deputy secretary responsible for the Corporate Strategies Division, the Policy Coordination Division, the Environment Quality Division, the Heritage Division and the Supervising Scientist Division. Ms Tinney has been a deputy secretary in the department since 1997. Ms Tinney previously had a distinguished record of service in senior management positions and in a diversity of roles in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She was awarded the Public Service Medal in 1995 in recognition of her services to the Australian Government Cabinet system.

Mr Gerard Early

Mr Gerard Early is acting deputy secretary responsible for the Marine and Biodiversity Division, Natural Resource Management Programmes Division, Parks Australia Division, and the Approvals and Wildlife Division. He took up the position in May 2007. Mr Early was previously head of the Approvals and Wildlife Division. He played a key role in amending the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and improving its efficiency and effectiveness. Mr Early was awarded a Public Service Medal in the Queen's Birthday 2007 Honours List for his outstanding public service in the protection and conservation of Australia's natural environment and cultural heritage.

Dr James Horne

Dr James Horne is acting deputy secretary responsible for the Water Assets and Natural Resources Division and the Water Resources Division. He transferred into the position of deputy secretary in January 2007 from the Office of Water Resources in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Dr Horne joined the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in August 2000 as first assistant secretary of the Industry, Infrastructure and Environment Division. He had responsibility for advising the Prime Minister on a broad range of microeconomic policy issues related to industry, communications, energy, transport, agriculture, the environment, trade practices and the Council of Australian Governments. Dr Horne was involved in drafting the National Water Initiative. He has a PhD in political science.

New appointments and retirements

During 2006—07 the department made the following new appointments to the executive team:

Dr Connal O'Connell (deputy secretary) left the department in May 2007 to take up the position of secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry after nearly 10 years of service with the department.

Executive committees

The Executive Roundtable is the key senior management forum. It meets weekly to monitor performance and review significant issues across the department and portfolio. Members are the secretary (chair), deputy secretaries and heads of all divisions of the department and portfolio agencies. Outcomes are made available to all employees via the department's intranet and through regular meetings held within each division and agency.

The department has eight committees that direct specific aspects of the department's internal affairs. Each committee reports its decisions and recommendations to the Executive Roundtable after major meetings. The committees' work in 2006—07 is summarised in the following table.

Roles and achievements of the Executive Roundtable committees 2006—07
Committee Roles and achievements
Audit Committee Role: Oversees the internal and external audit programme, risk management, fraud prevention, financial processes, legislation and compliance. The committee has no decisionmaking authority regarding the operations of the department. It has an independent review role and is directly accountable to the secretary

Achievements: Completed the 2006—07 internal audit plan and approved the 2007—08 internal audit work plan based on the 2006—2009 strategic audit programme

Reviewed the department's fraud control plan for 2007—2009, which sets out actions to prevent and manage the risk of fraud against the department, and incorporated the new water functions

Reviewed the performance of the internal audit function and conducted an assessment of the committee's performance in accordance with better practice. A number of improvements were implemented
Budget, Finance and Strategy Committee Role: Considers strategic budget and significant financial matters, and guides corporate governance and strategic policy activities

Achievements: Managed the 2007—08 budget process and set the initial budget strategy for 2008—09 and 2009—10, established a committee to integrate new water functions into the portfolio, implemented internal financial policies and procedures to enhance financial management, and continued to track significant projects to identify and monitor risks

Implemented a capital infrastructure plan and related budgetary process, and oversaw implementation of new procurement guidelines and financial management systems and processes, including a MySAP upgrade
Compliance Executive Committee Role: Sets the department's policy and direction for legislative compliance, endorses operational policies and practices, sets performance measures and reviews performance on compliance and governance

Achievements: Reviewed the provision of investigative services in the department and endorsed a centralised delivery model for these services. Reviewed the department's compliance and enforcement activities against the department's compliance and enforcement strategy
Knowledge Management Committee Role: Supports improved information and knowledge management in the portfolio, including implementation of new information and communications technology

Achievements: Endorsed an overarching information management framework that articulates the department's information management vision, goals and strategies and highlights the relevant legislative obligations. Initiated a scoping study for an electronic document and records management system

Provided strategic oversight of the information and communications technology strategic plan for 2006—2008. The plan provides a framework for improving these services across the portfolio to ensure that systems are secure, dependable, meet business needs and regulatory requirements, and improve workplace productivity
Workforce Management Committee Role: Provides strategic oversight for workforce issues such as recruitment, performance management, learning and development, occupational health and safety

Achievements: Developed a new leadership development programme, a project management framework, and a workforce plan for Canberra-based employees. Reviewed the graduate programme, and doubled the intake of graduates in 2007. Progressed a new strategy for Indigenous career development in the department and revised the department's work level standards
Marine and Coastal Coordination Committee Role: Coordinates domestic and international marine and coastal policies and programmes across the portfolio

Achievements: Coordinated cross-portfolio input and promoted communication on marine and coastal issues including the marine bioregional planning process, the Senate inquiry into Australia's national parks, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park review, the Threat Abatement Plan on Harmful Marine Debris; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and outcomes from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)

Contributed to the Natural Resource Management Marine and Coastal Committee strategic directions workshop held in July 2006
Indigenous Policy Leadership Group Role: Coordinates Indigenous issues across the portfolio and sets the portfolio's strategic focus on Indigenous matters

Achievements: Streamlined contracts for provision of the Healthy Country, Healthy People Schedule under the Overarching Agreement on Indigenous Affairs between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Northern Territory of Australia

Provided high level coordination, advice and decisions on a range of matters including shared responsibility, regional partnership and bilateral agreements; the Indigenous coordination centres; sea country planning and traditional use of marine resources agreements; research into the contribution that land, sea and environmental activities make to Indigenous health and other outcomes; and the Working on Country programme

Hosted a delegation from the Aboriginal Rainforest Council to discuss the Wet Tropics Regional Agreement for the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area, and opportunities for working together

Championed a successful NAIDOC week in the department
International Steering Committee Role: Oversees and provides strategic direction to the department's international work, and sets priorities for its international activities

Achievements: Reviewed the portfolio's international work plan and prepared a new plan of international engagement taking into account changes to the Australian Government's priorities. Updated the portfolio's inventory of international activities, reported by division on achievements against identified priorities and on lessons learned from the previous year's activities, and analysed emerging issues at the international and domestic levels

Corporate and operational planning

The department's 2006—07 annual strategic plan provides the framework for work plans for each division, branch, section and individual. The strategic plan is made available to all employees on the department's intranet.

The annual strategic plan complements the department's three-year corporate plan for 2005—2008. The corporate plan provides a high level view of the department's role as part of the Australian Government and how the department contributes to the goals of the portfolio as a whole. The eight Executive Roundtable committees and their subcommittees develop additional strategic and operational plans for specific aspects of the department's work.

Reports and reviews

The department's annual report publishes performance information against measures contained in the portfolio budget statements. It complies with the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Requirements for Departmental Annual Reports approved by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit. A compliance index identifies the location in this report of the information specified in the requirements.

The department also monitors its performance internally against key performance indicators in its operational plans. Divisions, committees and portfolio agencies report their performance quarterly to the Executive Roundtable.

Uhrig Review

In 2004 the department began assessing the governance arrangements of statutory authorities and office holders in the then Environment and Heritage portfolio against the recommendations of the 2003 Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders Report (the Uhrig Report).

The department has submitted assessments for all agencies within the portfolio to the Minister for Finance and Administration. The governance arrangements for the following entities were found to be generally consistent with the Uhrig Report: the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, Bureau of Meteorology, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and National Environment Protection Council.

Statements of expectation and intent are required for each agency and are subject to periodic review. Statements of expectation convey the Australian Government's expectation of the statutory authority, and statements of intent convey the statutory authority's response to the government's expectation. Statements are being finalised and will be made publicly available once approved.

The National Water Commission, which joined the portfolio in early 2007, was established after the Uhrig Review. This body was therefore not required to undertake a review as its establishment incorporated the Uhrig governance principles. Statements of expectation and intent for the commission are currently being prepared.

A review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 was undertaken in 2005—06, with its recommendations accepted by the Australian Government in October 2006. The review's recommendations are directed at establishing clear, accountable and transparent governance arrangements for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, enhancing consultation mechanisms and delivering legislation capable of providing long-term protection for the Great Barrier Reef.

The department is currently progressing implementation of review outcomes in conjunction with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment Act 2007 puts in place key changes related to governance, accountability and transparency from 1 July 2007. A further Bill related to regulatory arrangements is being developed, and other non-statutory changes are expected to be implemented in 2007—08. Statements of expectation and intent have now been introduced in relation to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

An independent review of the National Environment Protection Council Act 1994 (and the corresponding legislation in other jurisdictions) commenced in June 2006 and, in the context of the Uhrig Report, also considered the governance framework for the National Environment Protection Council Service Corporation. At its meeting on 2 June 2007, the National Environment Protection Council agreed in principle to the statement of expectation. The statement of intent is being finalised by the service corporation in consultation with the National Environment Protection Council Audit Committee.

Audit, risk and fraud control

The department retained the services of its internal audit service providers, Protiviti Pty Ltd, during 2006—07. Protiviti continued to provide independent internal audit, risk management, fraud control and investigation services and advice to the Audit Committee.

Audit Committee

The department's Audit Committee provides independent assurance and assistance to the secretary on the integrity of the department's financial management processes, its risk, fraud control and legislative compliance framework, and its external accountability responsibilities. The Audit Committee tracks progress and monitors implementation of audit findings and recommendations.

The Audit Committee has five members, as set out in the table below. The membership of the committee was formally appointed on 1 September 2005 with one independent member, Mr Rod Shogren, appointed in October 2006 to replace Mr Greg Wood whose term expired in August 2006. Seven meetings were held in 2006—07.

Audit Committee membership and meeting attendance 2006—07
Member Role Meetings attended (of 7 held)
Howard Bamsey  Chair 6
Rod Allen Member 7
David Anderson Member 7
Rod Shogren Independent member 5
Jenny Morison Independent member 7

Observers at the Audit Committee meetings are the chief finance officer, the chair of the Risk Panel, the director of the Governance Unit and representatives of the Australian National Audit Office and the internal audit provider.

The Audit Committee's major activities in 2006—07 are reported in the table on the roles and achievements of the Executive Roundtable committees. In 2007—08 the Audit Committee will continue to monitor the implementation of the department's audit programme and follow-up audit findings and recommendations.

Risk management

Risk management is integral to the department's planning and review systems. A senior management subcommittee, the Risk Panel, monitors key risks and supervises the development of departmental risk management policies and procedures, including procedures for fraud prevention and business continuity management. The panel's chair reports to the departmental executive and the Audit Committee. The risk management service provider and the director of the Governance Unit are observers at Risk Panel meetings.

Risk Panel membership and meetings attended 2006—07
Member Role Meetings attended (of 5 held)
Mark Tucker Chair 5
Gerard Early Member 3*
David Anderson Member 5
Malcolm Forbes Member 2*
Rod Allen Member 3
Ian Carruthers Member 4
* These members each sent a proxy to one meeting in addition to the attendance shown.

The Risk Panel completed a review of the department's risk management framework. The Governance Unit began implementing the review's recommendations, and made the following progress:

Following completion of a trial by the Budget, Finance and Strategy Committee, the Governance Unit began coordinating regular quarterly reports to the departmental executive on the progress of key departmental activities. The reports focus on emerging risks.

The Risk Panel and the Audit Committee co-supervised a fraud risk assessment covering all of the department's major functions, and development of the department's next fraud control plan.

The department's insurable risks are identified annually as part of Comcover's insurance renewal process. Both actual and potential insurance claims are reported to Comcover. The department is covered by Comcare for risks associated with injury to employees. The department maintains an occupational health and safety unit, which helps to reduce claims. Comcare conducts inspections to help the department measure its performance. Success in managing business risks led to the department receiving a 6.3 per cent discount off its Comcover premium with the completion of Comcover's annual Risk Management Benchmarking Survey in April 2007. While the department scored well against all categories, it did not rate well against monitoring and review. This aspect will therefore be a particular focus of efforts in the next year.

Fraud control

The department's anti-fraud programme is supervised by both the Audit Committee and the Risk Panel.

The department updated its fraud control plan based on a risk assessment in accordance with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines. The fraud control plan sets out actions planned for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2009 to reduce the risk of fraud against the department. The Risk Panel and Audit Committee oversaw the process for preparing the fraud control plan. The secretary endorsed the department's fraud control plan in June 2007.

Business continuity plan

The department has a business continuity plan for the period 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2007 endorsed by the secretary. The business continuity plan describes the arrangements that the department will use to ensure the continuity of its key services after a major, unexpected and disruptive incident (such as a fire). It describes the management structure, staff roles and responsibilities, and actions that are to be implemented after a major incident.

Certificate of Compliance

Beginning in 2006—07, chief executives of Australian Government departments and agencies are required to provide a completed Certificate of Compliance to their portfolio minister and a copy to the Minister for Finance and Administration by 15 October each year.

The certificate focuses on agencies' compliance during the previous financial year with the following:

The certificate integrates these requirements, allowing chief executives to certify compliance with the financial legislation and associated policies in a single document.

The department conducted a trial in 2006 with the assistance and advice of the Audit Committee and internal audit provider. The secretary will provide the first completed Certificate of Compliance for 2006—07 for the Department of the Environment and Water Resources to the relevant ministers before 15 October 2007.