Secretary's instructions

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dated: 1 July 2014

1. Managers shall manage their areas of responsibility in a manner that promotes the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use and management of the department's public resources that is not inconsistent with the policies of the Commonwealth.

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 imposes a duty on the Secretary to govern the department in a way that promotes the ‘proper’ use (efficient, effective, economical and ethical) and management of the public resources for which the Secretary is responsible This includes managing, committing, and spending relevant money and managing relevant property. Consistent with this duty, the Secretary must establish appropriate controls that relate to the corporate governance of the department, as a crucial part of managing public resources.

Delegated management officials shall share the stewardship of public resources and are responsible for exercising leadership and good management.

2. Officials shall ensure that their actions and decisions in managing the department's resources:

  • are legal,
  • are consistent with the policies of the department,
  • would stand up to public scrutiny,
  • are fair and ethical, and
  • contribute to corporate objectives.

The department's senior officials set the example for all officials in the stewardship of the department's resources to achieve the department's goals, including through the application of appropriate risk management principles and practices.

All officials are required to uphold and apply the public service values of honesty, integrity and fairness and the department’s code of conduct.

3. Officials must follow the Finance Management Manual, issued by the Chief Finance Officer and the Procurement Policy and Aid Grants Policy issued by FAS ACD. These documents underpin these instructions and set out responsibilities and obligations necessary for the proper use and management of the department's public resources for which the department is responsible in accordance with the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Key to this will be to ensure that:

  • officials clearly understand the department's overall objectives;
  • public resources are efficiently, effectively, economically and ethically used and managed;
  • officials’ development and succession planning activities lead to competent officials being available to effectively perform tasks and to manage risks;
  • communication and teamwork is promoted within work areas;
  • the department's work environment supports a culture of achieving results with acceptable risk; and
  • officials have regard to and assist in the formulation and/or promotion of the necessary plans, policies, procedures, organisational structure, training and ethical standards that are required to achieve the department's objectives with acceptable risk.

Accordingly, managers will be held to account for their performance in providing officials with necessary authority, tools, skills and environment to achieve the intended outcome of efficient, effective, economic and ethical use and management of public resources for which the Secretary is responsible.

To this end,

  • The Secretary is to oversee the department's operations, and, in particular, to provide leadership to the department's delegated management officials in formulating and approving key decisions.
  • The Audit and Risk Committee is to ensure that an independent internal audit function provides assurance and support for management and officials in maintaining an appropriate system of risk oversight and management and an appropriate system of internal control for the department.

4. These instructions commence on 1 July 2014.

Peter Varghese
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Last Updated: 1 July 2014