Environmental performance reporting

Sustainability Report 2005-2006

Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2007


Corporate governance means the processes by which the Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH) is directed, controlled and held to account. It encompasses the department's leadership and culture, decision-making processes, policies and procedures.

The business context in which the department operates

Foundations of Governance publication

The Australian Public Service Commission has published a useful introduction to the governance framework of the Australian Public Service called Foundations of Governance. It includes links to relevant policies, legislation and agency web sites. Read the Foundations of Governance  on the Australian Public Service Commission web site.

Legal context

DEH is a department of state established by the Governor-General under the Australian Constitution. Our current responsibilities are set out in the Governor-General's most recent Administrative Arrangements Orders .

Ethical standards

The department's employees must comply with ethical standards called the Australian Public Service Values , which are established under section 11 of the Public Service Act 1999.Section 12 of the Act requires agency heads to uphold and promote the Australian Public Service Values. In addition all Australian Public Service employees must comply with a set of behavioural requirements called the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct , which is established under section 13 of the Act.

Performance management and accountability

The Australian Government's annual Budgets are linked to the government's performance management framework, which is managed by the Department of Finance and Administration. Under this framework each agency aims to achieve outcomes set by the government by delivering outputs and administered items. Agencies must list performance indicators for their outcomes, outputs and administered items in their portfolio budget statements. Senate legislation committees scrutinise current statements and past performance through estimates hearings (see, for example, Hansard transcripts of past estimates hearings  for the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Committee). Agencies must report results for the performance indicators in their annual reports to the parliament, focusing on effectiveness in achieving the outcomes, efficiency in delivering the outputs, and effectiveness and efficiency in delivering the administered items. In addition, agencies must report on the implementation of key government initiatives to the Cabinet Implementation Unit  within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The department's internal control systems


The departmental executive makes decisions in consultation with the senior managers of affected divisions. Senior managers communicate key decisions directly to employees who are affected by the decisions and via the department's intranet. The Executive Roundtable is the portfolio's key senior management forum. The Executive Roundtable 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.

Planning and review

The department has a range of internal planning and review documents that implement the government's performance management framework. The department's current corporate plan operates from 2005 to 2008. Each year after the Budget the Secretary approves the department's annual strategic plan. Each division then approves an annual divisional work plan which is based on the priorities listed in the strategic plan. In turn, the divisional work plans provide direction for branch, section and individual work plans. Each division head provides a four-monthly divisional performance report to the Executive Roundtable. The Executive Roundtable also receives regular performance reports on ministerial workflow, finances and human resources, as well as other reports on media and legal issues.

Policies and procedures

The department's policies and procedures control the way the department carries out its operations. For example, the secretary has issued Chief Executive Instructions under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, which establish key roles such as the Chief Finance Officer and instruct employees about how to manage the department's finances, manage risk and prevent fraud.

The department's performance agreements with individual employees require a personal commitment to the Australian Public Service Values  and Australian Public Service Code of Conduct . The department's service charter requires employees to act with integrity, responsiveness and responsibility, and to strive to give their best to every task, when dealing with clients.

The Australian Government Antarctic Division applies a Code of Organisational Behaviour to its Australian-based employees and an Antarctic Service Code of Personal Behaviour to personnel (whether employees or not) in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic.