Online version of the 2014-15 Department of Health Annual Report

3.1: Corporate Governance

Our governance framework provides the structure for informed decision making, efficient and effective programme management, risk management and accountability

Page last updated: 17 July 2019

The Department’s corporate governance arrangements have been reformed in line with the recommendations of both the Capability Review undertaken in late 2014 and the Functional and Efficiency Review in early 2015.

Senior governance committees will provide advice and recommendations to the Executive to support the Department’s organisational performance.

The reform of the corporate governance arrangements included a simplified committee structure, new terms of reference and new membership for all committees.

The new governance committee structure is:

This image is a hierarchy structure chart of the new governance committee structure in the Department. The Secretary oversees all committees with the Executive Committee and the Audit and Risk Committee reporting directly. The Executive Committee directly oversees the Strategic Policy Committee, Finance and Resources Committee, People, Values and Capability Committee.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee provides strategic, whole-of-organisation advice to the Secretary and the Department’s leaders to ensure effective decision making, management and oversight of the Department’s operations and performance. It is the key forum to guide cross-portfolio issues in the Department.

The Executive Committee meets monthly and comprises the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries, the Chief Medical Officer, General Counsel and the First Assistant Secretaries of the Portfolio Investment Division and the People, Capability and Communication Division. Biographies for the Senior Executive members of the Committee are located within Part 1.

Strategic Policy Committee

The Strategic Policy Committee is co-chaired by two Deputy Secretaries with members chosen from the Senior Executive Service. It makes recommendations to the Secretary and Executive Committee on shaping and supporting the strategic policy directions of the organisation consistent with the Department’s Strategic Intent 2015-19.

The Committee meets monthly, and incorporates the functions of the previous Policy Advisory Group, as well as a focus on innovation previously managed by the Departmental Change and Innovation Committee.

Specifically, its scope includes:

  • improving organisational policy capabilities required to deliver against current and future requirements
  • strategic oversight and advice on the development and implementation of innovative major health policy and reform
  • enable cross-departmental dialogue on consideration of key policy issues and projects
  • oversight of the Portfolio’s Budget strategy
  • promote external collaboration and coordination between the Department and other agencies and stakeholders.

Finance and Resources Committee

The Finance and Resources Committee is chaired by a Deputy Secretary with members chosen from the Senior Executive Service. It makes recommendations to the Secretary and the Executive Committee on the strategic financial and security (IT, physical and information) management policy initiatives and issues, and advises on the allocation of resources, including budget adjustments.

The newly formed Committee meets monthly, and took on the roles of the previous Finance, Risk and Security Committee and the Information, Knowledge and Technology Committee.

Specifically, its scope includes:

  • overseeing the development of strategies to improve the Department’s financial management framework and financial performance
  • monitoring the Department’s annual departmental capital and operating budget process and ensuring its alignment to the Department’s corporate plan and priorities
  • providing advice to the Executive Committee on forecast revenue and expenditure, budget adjustments and reallocation of resources that meet the Department’s budget appropriations
  • overseeing the planning of multi-year operating budgets consistent with the Department’s corporate plan and priorities
  • overseeing the development and implementation of the Department’s ICT projects (including change releases) and other strategically significant projects.

People, Values and Capability Committee

The People, Values and Capability Committee is chaired by a Deputy Secretary with members chosen from the Senior Executive Service, and a representative of the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC). It makes recommendations to the Secretary and the Executive Committee on strategies to embed the Department’s values; ensures the Department has the people and capability it needs; ensures the Department’s workforce is sustainable to maintain and increase productivity and efficiency; and supports staff health and wellbeing.

The newly formed Committee meets monthly, and building upon the previous People and Capability Committee, now explicitly includes values as part of the Committee’s responsibilities.

The Committee will consider and advise on the practices and policies of the Department which affect staff health and wellbeing, values and/or ethical standards, to ensure that they:

  • contribute to an ethical culture
  • are consistent with the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct
  • are consistent with Australian Government objectives and the Department’s Corporate Plan
  • comply with the APSC Model of Capability and advance the overall capability of the organisation.

Audit and Risk Committee

The Audit and Risk Committee comprises five members; three of whom are independent external members, including the Chair, and two Departmental members. It provides independent advice and assurance to the Secretary on the appropriateness of the Department’s accountability and control framework, including independently verifying and safeguarding the integrity of the financial and performance reporting.

Meeting for the first time on 4 June 2015, the Audit and Risk Committee replaced the previous Audit Committee, which met five times during 2014-15.

The Secretary authorises the Committee, within its responsibilities, to:

  • obtain any information it requires from any employee and/or external party (subject to any legal obligation to protect information)
  • discuss any matters with the external auditor, or other external parties (subject to confidentiality considerations)
  • request the attendance of any employee, including the Secretary, at Committee meetings
  • obtain external legal or other professional advice, as considered necessary to meet its responsibilities with the approval of the Secretary.

Audit and Risk Committee Membership

As at 30 June 2015, membership of the Audit Committee comprised:

  • Ms Kathleen Conlon, independent external Chair41
  • Ms Jenine Borowik, independent external member42
  • Ms Jenny Morison, independent external member
  • Ms Penny Shakespeare, First Assistant Secretary, Health Workforce Division
  • Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, Deputy Secretary, Regulatory Services Group.
The image is of Kathleen Conlon, Independent Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Kathleen Conlon - Independent Chair

Kathleen Conlon commenced as the Chair of the Department’s Audit & Risk Committee on 3 June 2015. Kathleen is a professional non-executive director, with 20 years’ experience at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), including seven years as a partner. During her time at BCG, Kathleen led BCG’s Asia Pacific operational effectiveness practice area, healthcare practice area, and the Sydney office.

Kathleen is a member of Chief Executive Women, and a non-executive director of CSR, the REA Group Limited, Lynas Corporation Limited, Aristocrat Leisure Limited, The Benevolent Society, and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. As a member of these boards, Kathleen currently chairs and serves on a number of committees. She has also previously served on the NSW Better Services and Value Taskforce, and was a senior reviewer for the Department of Communication’s Capability Review.

The image is of Jenine Borowik, Independent Member of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Jenine Borowik - Independent Member

Jenine Borowik was the First Assistant Statistician of the ABS 2017 Program Delivery Division at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). ABS 2017 was responsible for bringing together the organisation’s key strategic initiatives of Business and Information Management Transformation with the public face of the ABS, and the planning and implementation of the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.

Jenine joined the ABS in 1979 and has worked in a number of areas of the organisation, including several years as the organisation’s Chief Information Officer. She was a member of the ABS Senior Management Group and a number of UN organising committees related to statistics, as well as Chair of a Modernisation Committee for Products and Sources.

Under the Australian Government’s Gateway Review Process, Jenine performs Gateway Reviews of major projects, both in Australia and overseas. She is an Executive Fellow of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

The image is of Jenny Morison, Independent Member of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Jenny Morison - Independent Member

Jenny Morison is a Fellow Chartered Accountant of Australia and New Zealand, with 34 years of broad experience in accounting and commerce, including audit, taxation, management consulting, corporate advisory, and consulting to government. Jenny has held numerous board positions, and is one of the longest standing independent member and chair of Audit Committees in the Australian Government. Her experience encompasses both large Departments and smaller entities.

Since 1996, Jenny has run her own business, providing strategic financial management, governance and risk advice within the government sector.

Jenny has a Bachelor of Economics, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, and is a member of Women on Boards.

The image is of Penny Shakespeare, Member of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Penny Shakespeare

Penny Shakespeare is the First Assistant Secretary of the Department’s Health Workforce Division, which builds the capacity of Australia’s health workforce to meet the challenges of delivering health services to the community and works to increase the availability of health services in rural Australia. She has worked in the Department since 2006, previously in the Medicare Benefits and Private Health Insurance areas.

Prior to joining the Department, Penny worked as an industrial relations lawyer in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, and in regulatory policy roles, including as head of the ACT Office of Industrial Relations for three years. She represented the ACT on the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, and Workers Compensation Advisory Committee and the Workplace Relations Ministers Advisory Council.

Penny has a Bachelor of Law and a Masters degree in International Law and is admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the ACT Supreme Court.

The image is of Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, Member of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Adjunct Professor John Skerritt

Adjunct Professor John Skerritt is the Deputy Secretary with responsibility for the Department’s Regulatory Services Group and National Manager of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Refer to Part 1: Executive for Adjunct Professor Skerritt’s full profile.

Internal audit arrangements

Primary responsibility for internal audit arrangements within the Department rest with the Audit and Fraud Control Branch under the broad direction of the Department’s Audit and Risk Committee.

Audit and fraud control

Audit and Fraud Control Branch promoted and improved the Department’s corporate governance by conducting audits and investigations and providing independent advice and assistance to Departmental senior management.

In 2014-15, Audit and Fraud Control Branch completed 20 audits and reviews based on the Audit Work Plan. The Plan covered compliance with Departmental control frameworks, grants and contract management, IT management, and Departmental expenditure and procurement activities.

Fraud minimisation strategies

During 2014-15, the Department implemented the whole-of-government fraud awareness eLearning package and continued to train staff in fraud awareness. An enterprise level fraud risk assessment was conducted to inform the update to the Fraud and Corruption Control Plan.

The Department received 26 allegations of fraud during 2014-15, with six being referred to the Australian Federal Police or other agencies for investigation. There have been no matters referred for prosecution in this period. All other allegations were subject to internal investigation and administrative action where appropriate.

Risk management

The Department’s risk management environment has evolved over the last twelve months with the implementation of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), the new Commonwealth Risk Management Policy, Departmental Capability Review and the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey.

The Department’s Risk Management Policy has been updated to comply with the PGPA Act, the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy, and the international standard AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management – Principles and Guidelines whilst aligning with the Comcover – Better Practice Guide: Risk Management.

The Department has used the outcomes of the Capability Review and the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey to strengthen organisational risk capability, particularly in relation to making evidenced-based and risk-informed decisions.

The 2015 Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey results demonstrate the importance the Department places on risk management and the progress of embedding risk processes. The results have provided a clear vision of future goals and the flexibility in how to achieve them.

Certification of Departmental Fraud Control Arrangements

I, Martin Bowles, certify that:

  • the Department has prepared fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans;
  • the Department has in place appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, and reporting mechanisms that meet the specific needs of the Department; and
  • I have taken all reasonable measures to appropriately deal with fraud relating to the Department.
The image is of Secretary Martin Bowles’ signature, certifying the Department’s Fraud Control Arrangements.

Martin Bowles PSM

September 2015

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