Corporate governance menu: Senior executive and responsibilities | Corporate planning and review | Management committees | Corporate governance practices | Commonwealth Disability Strategy | Environmental matters | Service charter
The Governor-General appointed the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsmen to five-year terms:
The remuneration for the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsmen is determined in accordance with a ruling by the Remuneration Tribunal. Note 10 in the Financial Statements details executive remuneration.
Prof. McMillan acted as Integrity Commissioner with the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity from 30 December 2006 to 22 July 2007 pending permanent filling of the position. Dr Thom was Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman from 30 December 2006 to 29 June 2007.
The office’s Executive team comprises the Ombudsman and two Deputy Ombudsmen. The Executive and six Senior Assistant Ombudsmen comprise the senior management team.
At 30 June 2007, the office’s senior management team and their areas of responsibility are:
Mr Ron Brent, Deputy Ombudsman and Chief Financial Officer—main areas of responsibility:
Dr Vivienne Thom, Deputy Ombudsman—main areas of responsibility:
During the year, the office’s Strategic Plan was reviewed to build on achievements over the past three years and to reflect priorities for the period 2007 to 2010. Strategic priorities identified for 2007–08 are to:
The office’s Strategic Plan informs its internal business plans, which are prepared on an annual basis. There are clear links between the objectives and the key measures of success of the Strategic Plan and the key result areas set in the business plans for all teams, and in individual performance agreements for all staff members. As a result, performance agreements are closely linked to business plans.
Management committees assist the Executive with decision making in key areas.
As required by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the office has an Internal Audit Committee. The committee’s role is to review, monitor and where necessary recommend improvements to internal control, financial reporting, internal audit functions, external audit processes, and the office process for monitoring compliance with legislation and government policy directives. The committee met three times during the year.
At 30 June 2007 the membership of the committee comprised Dr Vivienne Thom, Deputy Ombudsman (Chair), Ms Helen Fleming, Senior Assistant Ombudsman, Mr Ray Matcham, Senior Assistant Ombudsman, and an independent external member, Mr Joe D’Angelo, Chief Finance and Information Officer, Department of the Senate. Representatives from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) attend committee meetings as observers, and the office’s internal auditors, WalterTurnbull, and the Chief Finance Officer, attend meetings to report on particular matters.
During 2006–07 the office issued a request for tender for internal audit services for a three-year period. WalterTurnbull was awarded the contract.
In previous years an Information Technology Steering Committee oversaw the development of IT strategy and governance, and identified priorities for infrastructure, application development and maintenance, and project development. A new committee will be formed in early 2007–08 with relevant terms of reference to assist in assessing and making recommendations to the Ombudsman about major IT infrastructure decisions and major expenditure proposals.
The office’s Occupational Health and Safety Committee is made up of elected representatives from each state office and chaired by the Human Resources Manager who represents management. Recommendations and/or advice from the committee are provided to the Workplace Relations Committee. The committee met twice during the year. See also Appendix 1.
A Deputy Ombudsman chairs the Workplace Relations Committee. It consists of employee, management and union representatives, and is the main consultative body on workplace conditions within the office. The committee met four times during the year, and considered matters such as flexible working arrangement guidelines and whistleblowing policy and procedures.
A Deputy Ombudsman chairs the Work Practice Steering Committee, which includes representatives from a number of specialist teams and state offices. The committee’s role is to consider and make decisions on issues related to work practice and to provide recommendations and/or advice to the Executive, where appropriate.
The committee met eight times during the year. It considered and made recommendations about a wide range of work practice and complaint management system issues. An issues log was initiated in May 2007 to seek input and feedback from all staff on issues arising out of our new complaint management system, with more than one hundred issues raised since its inception.
The office’s risk management activities are oversighted by the Internal Audit Committee, and have been incorporated into the Ombudsman’s planning and operations and the management of contractors. The office’s risk management policy and procedures specify how to:
The office participated in the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey, and we are identifying areas for improvement.
A Business Continuity Plan was drafted and circulated internally for comment and is to be finalised in early 2007–08. The plan utilises the strengths of a national office structure to respond to potential outage in one or more of the office’s eight sites.
When the plan is finalised, staff will be trained in their role in the event the plan is required to be enacted. The plan will be tested and steps taken to ensure that we have the appropriate tools to successfully implement the plan, including information technology hardware and software.
Fraud prevention and control
During 2006–07 the office reviewed and updated its fraud control plan and fraud risk assessment. Appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes are in place. These meet our specific needs and comply with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines issued in May 2002. The risk of fraud remains low for the office.
The Internal Audit Committee oversees the implementation of the fraud control plan.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman Certified Agreement 2005–2008 includes the Australian Public Service (APS) Values, as specified in the Public Service Act 1999 s 10, and the values adopted by the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office in its Strategic Plan 2007–2010. The importance of the values is reinforced in induction documentation and training for staff, and in internal documents including the Workplace Diversity Framework and Plan, and the Harassment Prevention Policy.
The key values of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office are: independence, impartiality, integrity, accessibility, professionalism and teamwork.
The office is committed to the Commonwealth Disability Strategy to ensure equality of access to the services of the Commonwealth Ombudsman for people with disabilities, and to eliminate discriminatory practices by staff. We endeavour to meet our obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 through implementation of the Commonwealth Disability Strategy and the Ombudsman’s Disability Action Plan 2005–2008 and the Workplace Diversity Framework and Plan 2007–2009.
The office’s operations encompass the activities of regulator, service provider and employer.
The Ombudsman does not directly enforce the disability discrimination legislation, but provides a complaint resolution service under statute for the Australian Government. This can include recommendations on enforcement of legislative obligations that apply to Australian Government agencies. The Ombudsman seeks to promote awareness of services in all areas of the Australian community, and provides an online complaint lodgement facility on the office’s website. Ombudsman staff liaise regularly with community organisations to promote awareness of the Ombudsman’s services.
The Ombudsman has an established internal complaint and review process, which allows complaints about the office’s decisions and service quality to be resolved quickly, fairly and informally. The office’s complaints and grievances mechanism is outlined in our service charter and advised to complainants in a variety of communications. We seek to promote awareness of the office’s role and service in all areas of the Australian community.
In developing and maintaining the Ombudsman’s website, we use the priority 1 and 2 checkpoints of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 as our benchmark. Activities to ensure compliance include testing colour contrast for the vision impaired, limiting the use of graphics, simplifying navigation and providing a site map, separating document formatting from content with style sheets, providing text equivalents for non-text elements, and improving metadata.
The Ombudsman’s harassment policies and Workplace Diversity Framework and Plan aim to ensure that in working to achieve the goals of the office, the diverse background, skills, talents and views of staff are recognised, encouraged and valued.
When taken as a whole, these policies assist the office to ensure that the principles of workplace diversity are understood by staff, and are embedded in our office culture, practices and procedures.
The plan provides for the following measures to assist staff who have particular needs.
The Ombudsman is required to report on certain environmental matters under s 516A(5)(a) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, detailing the office’s environmental performance and its contribution to ecologically sustainable development.
The Ombudsman continued to encourage staff to manage all resources, including energy, prudently and in an ecologically responsible manner. During 2006–07 we reviewed the office’s Environmental Management Policy and information material on the conservation of energy within the workplace, including the use of light, computer equipment, water management and organic recycling. The office recycles toner/printer cartridges, paper and cardboard products, classified waste and cans/tins, bottles and plastic. These strategies are communicated to staff through the office intranet and induction program.
We continue to be committed to providing the best service possible to the community. Our service charter outlines the service that can be expected from the office, ways to provide feedback and steps that can be taken if standards are not met.
When a complainant is dissatisfied with our conclusions and decision about a complaint, they may ask for the matter to be reconsidered, and if they are still not satisfied, for a review of their complaint. A Deputy Ombudsman will consider the information provided and decide whether or not we will review the handling of the complaint.
The Deputy Ombudsman chairs the office’s internal review panel and allocates the request for review to a designated review officer who has had no prior involvement in the complaint. The review officer will look at whether the processes our staff followed were fair and adequate, and whether the conclusions they reached were reasonable and properly explained to the complainant. Only in exceptional circumstances will more than one review be undertaken.
We commenced an internal review of the office’s service charter in June 2007. The review will take account of any relevant issues arising from the survey of Australian Government agencies and the post implementation review of our work practice changes—both being conducted during the period June to August 2007. An external review of the charter will be conducted in 2008.
We report on our performance against service charter standards in Chapter 3—Performance report.