Department Foreign Affairs & Trade  
Annual Report - Contents
 
DFAT Annual Report 1998-99






The Move to Accrual Budgeting

Preparation for the introduction of the Commonwealth’s first accrual budget in 1999–2000 was a significant preoccupation for the department during the period under review. The department responded professionally to this challenge, recognising the potential benefits of drawing a clearer link between resources and objectives. Like other agencies, the department developed a set of planned outcomes (the intended results for the community of the Government’s work) and outputs (services delivered by the department to, and on behalf of, the Government). We then created a framework of performance indicators in accordance with the accrual guidelines.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade operates in a context that is significantly outside its control: the international environment is uncertain, and Australia is only one of many players on the world scene. This made it challenging to develop meaningful performance indicators to gauge progress towards the achievement of planned outcomes.

We decided to include milestones in the Portfolio Budget Statements 1999-2000 that would represent the achievement of, or significant steps towards, major goals in 1999–2000, taking considerable care to ensure that these were forward-looking and realistic, and that they could be reported against in the annual report for 1999–2000 in clear terms. The department also provided supplementary information to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee to assist its scrutiny of the department’s approach to internal management.

In preparing the annual report for 1998–99—the year of transition to accrual budgeting—the department sought to benefit from the lessons learnt in developing this first accrual framework, and reviewed the way our performance indicators were expressed in the Portfolio Budget Statements 1998–1999. While some amendments were made to these indicators, there were natural limits to this exercise, given that the department had not had systems in place during the year for the collection of accrual performance information. The intention, however, was to provide a solid foundation for a report which, to the extent possible in an international context, provides information focused on results. We also began the work of establishing systems to ensure that posts, divisions, and State and Territory offices were able to meet the accrual budgeting data collection requirements in 1999–2000.

With the introduction of a new financial management system, the department began to develop systems for addressing the new cash management requirements associated with accrual budgeting. Given the international nature of the department’s operations, we decided to centralise assets management in Canberra in order to meet these new requirements more effectively and efficiently.

Figure 3 Outcomes and Output Groups

Figure 3

Table 10 Relationship between Programs and Outcomes/Outputs


Program Management Budgeting


Accrual Budgeting

Program 1

International Relations, Trade and Business Liaison

Outcome 1

Australia’s national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance and global cooperation

Sub-programs

1.1 Interests in North Asia
1.2 Interests in South and South-East Asia
1.3 Interests in the Americas and Europe
1.4 Interests in the South Pacific, Africa and the Middle East
1.5 Multilateral Trade Policy and Negotiations
1.6 Trade Strategy Development and Business Liaison
1.7 Global Issues
1.8 International Legal Issues

Output Groups

1.1 Protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests through the diplomatic network and Canberra-based activity
1.2 Provision of policy advice and analysis to portfolio ministers

 

Outcome 3

Public understanding in Australia and overseas of Australia’s foreign and trade policy and a positive image of Australia internationally

Sub-program

1.9 Information and Cultural Relations

Output Group

3.1 Public information services and public diplomacy


Program 2

Passport and Consular Services

Outcome 2

Australians informed about and provided access to consular and passport services in Australia and overseas

Sub-programs

2.1 Passport Services
2.2 Consular Services

Output Group

2.1 Consular and passport services


Program 3

Services for Other Agencies

Outcome 1

Australia’s national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance and global cooperation

Sub-programs

3.1 Services to Parliament, the Media and the Public
3.3 Services to Australian Government Agencies Overseas

Output Group

1.4 International services to other agencies in Australia and overseas

Sub-program

3.2 Services to Foreign Representatives in Australia

Output Group

1.5 Services to diplomatic and consular representatives in Australia

 

Outcome 3

Public understanding in Australia and overseas of Australia’s foreign and trade policy and a positive image of Australia internationally

Sub-program

3.1 Services to Parliament, the Media and the Public

Output Group

3.1 Public information services and public diplomacy


Program 4

Secure Government Communications and Security Services

Outcome 1

Australia’s national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance and global cooperation

Sub-programs

4.1 Australian Diplomatic Communications Network
4.2 Security Services

Output Group

1.3 Secure Government communications and security of overseas missions


Program 5

Executive and DFAT Corporate Services

Enabling Services

Sub-programs

5.1 Executive Direction
5.2 DFAT Corporate Services

Enabling services


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