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To meet the Australian Government’s priorities, the department must adapt and be proactive and innovative as it works with its stakeholders to find new approaches to a changing environment. We will build our capability to achieve our objectives and realise our vision by investing in our people, values, processes and systems.

We aim to build a high performance organisation:

  • being recognised as a leader in policy development and value for money program delivery on matters relevant to Australia’s industries
  • building the evidence to support policy decisions through rigorous economic analysis and research
  • working collaboratively to support whole-of-government policies including the government’s approach to economic transition and regional growth; the National Innovation and Science Agenda; and the Northern Australia White Paper
  • contributing to the government’s shared and common services program to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of services to government
  • being a leader in delivering open government through engagement and participation
  • fostering a strong and collaborative development culture that builds employee capabilities and creates career opportunities
  • improving the delivery of internal enabling and support services through regularly reviewing key processes to: remove internal red tape, optimise the use of data and digital technologies and increase efficiency
  • being a leader in the use of flexible work arrangements to support and drive employee engagement
  • becoming an agency of choice for new and existing employees.

The People Plan 2017-20 identifies six components to support the ongoing development of a high performance organisation:

  1. Common vision and values is ensuring all staff have a shared understanding of the department’s role in delivering the government’s agenda through a unified vision, objectives and values, as well as fostering an understanding of how individuals contribute to it, and how we expect our employees to perform within a professional environment
  2. Advancing capability is strengthening our skills to be a leader in the development of policy and program design and delivery
  3. Strong leadership is our leaders, at all levels, modelling the APS values and communicating our vision, being accountable and guiding our people through change
  4. Engaged staff is ensuring that staff have a personal stake in the department’s success
  5. Collaborative, innovative and safe environment is building on shared knowledge and experiences, being open to new delivery approaches, engaging with a greater level of business risk and ensuring a healthy and safe workplace
  6. Structure, systems and processes is the implementation of structures, systems and processes that align with the department’s vision without imposing an unnecessary burden on our stakeholders and staff.

Workforce planning

Planning a workforce for the future is critical to ensuring there are sufficient numbers of appropriately trained and skilled employees to deliver on the government’s agenda. To meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment and increasing fiscal challenges, the department needs to develop and maintain a highly skilled, engaged, flexible and innovative workforce.

The department undertakes regular workforce planning to identify workforce needs, and sets-out workforce strategies to support the ongoing development of a high performance organisation. These strategies include:

  • rewarding high performance
  • providing extensive learning and development opportunities
  • encouraging mobility across the department, the APS and within industry to broaden experience and strengthen capability
  • the flexible deployment of staff and strategic recruitment to ensure the department has the right people in the right place at the right time
  • providing a flexible work environment through a variety of initiatives, including teleworking
  • supporting managers to plan for succession, recruitment and learning and development needs in a strategic way. 

ICT capability

The department is focused on providing technology solutions that support the operation of a high-performance, customer-focused organisation. In line with the government’s Digital Transformation Agenda, the department set outs a digital strategy to lead its digital transformation, including principles that guide the department’s decision making and our key areas for investment.

The Digital Strategy 2017-20 outlines, at a high level, how we will deliver key experiences by 2020:

  • for our customers, this will mean an integrated, adaptive experience that simplifies interactions and anticipates the needs of business and science in Australia
  • for our staff, it will mean a digitally enabled department, where it is simple to do complex things, wherever you are, using integrated and secure products and services.

The strategy builds on work already underway as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, Single Business Service program and National Business Simplification Initiative.

The strategy has a strong focus on building the department’s internal digital capability. This will be underpinned by a renewed focus on engagement, communications and training to ensure staff are aware of available digital technologies and have the ability to use them.

Risk management

Risk management is integral to achieving the department’s objectives. It enables us to take advantage of opportunities while understanding and managing potential threats to promote innovation and improve the department’s performance.

The department’s Risk Management Framework 2017-19 aims to keep building our risk capability as we continue to develop a culture that is innovative, agile and resilient. This framework sets out a systematic approach to guide how risk management is embedded across the department for all business operations and staff at all levels. This is achieved through various strategies including a greater consultative approach and tailored, fit-for-purpose tools and templates designed to:

  • build organisational risk capability such that risk awareness is part of the mind-set
  • embed risk management into business processes and performance management such that risk thinking adds value
  • drive better knowledge management to improve performance.

The Executive Board is responsible for determining and reviewing risk appetite and tolerance levels and the department’s performance in managing risks.

The Assurance and Audit Committee considers the appropriateness of the risk management framework, adequacy of procedures and overall effectiveness of risk management systems and processes, including providing independent advice and assurance to the Executive Board.

Periodic risk reviews are undertaken with reporting through departmental governance structures.

The framework is consistent with the Commonwealth Risk Management Policy, and designed in accordance with the Australian and New Zealand Risk Management Standard ISO 31000:2009, Risk management—principles and guidelines.