Chapter 2: Corporate Governance in DFAT and the Australian Public Service
The department has an overarching corporate governance framework to foster and support ethical behaviour and to limit, monitor and manage the occurrence of misconduct. This chapter sets out the role of units and committees in the department which make up this framework. It also provides information on the Australian Public Service Commission and its Ethics Advisory Service.
Staff should contact the Conduct and Ethics Unit (email@example.com) if they require clarification on the contents of this Manual or if they are uncertain about the ethical implications of a proposed course of action.
2.1 Conduct and Ethics Unit
2.1.1 The Conduct and Ethics Unit (CEU) in CMD provides advice on conduct and ethics issues, investigates allegations of misconduct, refers allegations of criminal behaviour in the department to relevant law enforcement authorities, and develops and implements the department's Fraud Control Plan.
2.1.2 CEU actively promotes the APS Values, APS Code of Conduct, LES Code of Conduct and the DFAT Code of Conduct for Overseas Service by:
- providing and supporting conduct, ethics and fraud training in Canberra, at STOs and at posts overseas; and
- providing advice to staff and work units on conduct and ethics, conflict of interest and fraud management policy; and on possible responses to identified or alleged misconduct in the workplace.
2.1.3 CEU's ethical advisory role is central to its work. Staff and work units are encouraged to contact CEU if they are uncertain about the ethical implications of a proposed course of action or about whether they have a real or apparent conflict of interest. This is good risk management practice, and consistent with the department's culture of appropriate reflection, disclosure and discussion on ethical issues.
2.1.4 In addition to its advisory role, CEU investigates allegations of misconduct in the department in response to reports from staff, members of the public, media and other sources (including anonymous reports). It also refers allegations of criminal or other unlawful behaviour in the department to relevant law enforcement authorities. Staff wishing to report alleged misconduct should contact CEU.
2.1.5 Staff can be assured that any information provided to CEU in good faith will be treated confidentially in accordance with relevant Commonwealth legislation.
2.2 Ethics Committee
2.2.1 The department's Ethics Committee generally meets three times a year to oversee and make recommendations on the development and implementation of the department's conduct and ethics policies. It has an important responsibility to promote the highest standards of conduct and ethics.
2.2.2 The Committee's terms of reference are to:
- promote high standards of ethical behaviour;
- prevent misconduct;
- ensure that investigations are carried out fairly and promptly;
- and provide clear and consistent guidance on standards of conduct.
2.2.3 MCS is the secretariat for the Ethics Committee. Because of the sensitive issues it often considers, the Committee operates on a basis of strict confidentiality.
2.2.4 At November 2010, the members of the Ethics Committee are:
- Bruce Gosper
- Chris Moraitis
- First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division (ex officio)
- David Lawrence
- Assistant Secretary, Financial Services and Performance Branch (ex officio)
- Guy O'Brien
- Director, General Litigation, Corporate and Commercial Law Section (ex officio)
- Ruth Adler
- Assistant Secretary, Environment Branch
- David Glass
- Director, Speechwriting Section
- Jenny Hanna
- Executive Officer, ICT Planning and Development Branch
- Warren King
- Director, Japan Section
- Jane Luckhurst
- Director, Passports Strategy, Policy and Coordination Section
- Marilyn Perring
- Divisional Coordinator, Diplomatic Security Information Management and Services Division
- Tracey Reid
- Director, G20 Section
- Luke Williams
- Director, Management Strategy, Conduct and Coordination Section (Committee Secretary)
- Gary Williams
- Executive Officer (Investigations), CEU (observer)
- Michael Kerin
- Executive Officer (Investigations), CEU (observer)
2.2.5 When vacancies arise, staff from all levels and areas in the department are invited to submit nominations. Committee members are appointed for a maximum term of two years. All membership decisions are made by the Chair.
2.3 Fora for Discussing Ethical Issues at Post
2.3.1 Posts are not obliged to have their own ethics committees. However, it is good practice for post management to set aside a regular agenda item in one of their staff meetings for discussion of conduct and ethics issues and implementation of conduct and ethics policies at their post.
2.4 Audit and Risk Committee
2.4.1 The Audit and Risk Committee plays an important role in enhancing the department's corporate governance, risk management and control framework. It also provides guidance to the department on its external accountability and other legislative compliance responsibilities. One of its specific functions is to review the risk management strategy and fraud control plan of the department to ensure they remain current and focus on areas of high risk.
2.4.2 Further information on the Audit and Risk Committee can be found at Administrative Circular P1020- Departmental Audit and Risk Committee Charter.
2.5 The Australian Public Service Commission
2.5.1 The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is an APS agency which provides policy advice on accountability, ethics, probity and openness, and promotes systems and approaches to deliver these objectives.
2.5.2 The APSC actively promotes the APS Values and the APS Code of Conduct and contributes to the reform of public interest disclosure (whistleblowing) legislation and information law.
APSC Ethics Advisory Service
2.5.4 The APSC's Ethics Advisory Service complements the services and arrangements the department has in place (including CEU) to promote ethical behaviour and manage conduct and ethics issues in the APS.
2.5.5 The Ethics Advisory Service is available to all APS employees, including agency heads and SES staff, who wish to discuss and seek advice on ethical issues that occur in the workplace and who wish to make sound decisions around these issues. The Ethics Advisory Service includes a call and e-mail centre where APS employees can seek advice on ethical issues, on a confidential basis if necessary. The call and e-mail centre is open Monday-Friday 0830-1700 AEST. Its contact details are:
2.5.6 The Ethics Advisory Service can provide advice on:
- the application and interpretation of the APS Values and the APS Code of Conduct;
- Sections 10 and 13 of the Public Service Act 1999;
- strategies and techniques for ethical decision making in the APS; and
- interpretation of the misconduct and whistleblowing provisions of the Public Service Act 1999, as well as advice on related policy and good practice.
2.5.7 Full details about the Ethics Advisory Service and how it operates can be found at its website: www.apsc.gov.au/ethics. The website also contains useful resources and publications on ethical practice in the APS.