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Planning, reporting and continuous improvement

Governance frameworks

Strategy: Improve governance frameworks through stronger accountability, planning and project management throughout the organisation

The following corporate governance principles underpin the structure and processes of the department's committees, and their culture of inclusiveness in their deliberations and decision-making processes:

  • leadership, ethics and performance
  • risk management
  • internal conformance and accountability
  • planning and performance monitoring.

Through strong leadership, the department establishes a clear vision, sets the benchmark for excellence, and fosters a shared responsibility for delivering outcomes in education and training for all Queenslanders.

The department's Strategic Plan outlines the purpose, goals, outcomes and performance expectations that we work towards. It identifies the key priorities and strategies needed to achieve the department's objectives, setting our policy agenda for the next four-year cycle. The department continually refines its way forward by conducting an annual review of the Strategic Plan. Planning supports continuous improvement and promotes effective and efficient service delivery.

Supporting plans are developed for the critical areas of:

  • asset management/infrastructure
  • environmental sustainability
  • knowledge
  • workforce management
  • risk management
  • school operations
  • regional service delivery.

The department's business plans operationalise the Strategic Plan. Portfolio and divisional planning outcomes are interlinked and aligned with both community and government needs.

Managing the delivery of the objectives in the department's Strategic Plan and related operational plans requires well considered project management and planning techniques.

Employees in DET are encouraged to use the Queensland Government Project Management Methodology, which offers a standard way to manage projects. This methodology is designed to lead project managers and other stakeholders through a project's life cycle by offering logical steps, advice and guidelines, ensuring projects are completed successfully.

The department's Evaluation Strategy includes an annually reviewed four-year rolling evaluation schedule. Evaluations undertaken by the department inform future decision making and resource allocation.

The Evaluation Steering Committee oversees governance arrangements, provides advice to staff conducting evaluations, approves evaluation components and reports on evaluations undertaken by the department. The committee meets at least three times a year.

The department continues to enhance its governance arrangements and internal procedures to improve the organisation's service delivery, performance and accountability.

The department is developing a new DET Governance Framework to be released in August 2010 to guide all employees in improving performance.

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Internal audit, corporate assurance and risk management

Photograph showing a woman retrieving a file from the filing cabinet.

The department's internal audit functions are carried out by the Corporate Assurance and Risk Advisory Services Unit (previously named Internal Audit).

The unit has responsibility for assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of departmental financial and operational systems and activities, as well as provision of assistance, and identification of deficiencies in risk management. This role is achieved by:

  • reviewing and providing assurance on the effectiveness of internal controls for financial and non-financial processes
  • assessing the department's conformance with legislation, policy, and standards
  • conducting audits with a business improvement, consulting or strategic focus, to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of departmental operations
  • providing independent, expert advice on departmental initiatives through participation in various departmental committees, or on request from management
  • advising management of any improvement opportunities in the delivery of services or activities
  • providing advice and assurance on matters concerning ethical conduct and probity
  • providing a professional advisory service to management on all matters relating to enterprise risk management.

The Executive Director, Corporate Assurance and Risk Advisory Services Unit reports to the Director-General, and also to the Audit and Risk Management Committee, which meets on a quarterly basis, and which operates with due regard to Queensland Treasury's best practice Audit Committee Guidelines.

The Corporate Assurance and Risk Advisory Services Unit's role, operating environment and operating parameters are set out in its charter, which was approved by the Director-General and Audit and Risk Management Committee in March 2009.

The Strategic Internal Audit Plan 2009-2012 communicates the unit's vision, mission and key strategies to improve performance over the next three years. This is then supported by an Annual Audit Plan, which is compiled based on an extensive consultation and risk evaluation process, to focus on audits of key strategic and operational risk.

The Corporate Assurance and Risk and Advisory Services Unit manages the department's Enterprise Risk Management and Business Continuity Program, and facilitates the collection and analysis of corporate risk data.

Risks are identified by applying the Australian/New Zealand and International Standard for Risk Management AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009, which involves an understanding of the impact of uncertainty on the successful achievement of the department's objectives.

Arrangements to manage risk include regular reviews of risk registers, with a focus on determining the effectiveness of controls and treatments in place to manage risks.

During 2009-10, the Corporate Assurance and Risk Advisory Services Unit:

  • completed the Annual Audit Program in accordance with the approved Annual Audit Plan
  • completed a review of internal audit operations to ensure conformance with requirements under the new Financial Accountability Act 2009
  • implemented a systematic process to follow up the implementation of audit recommendations
  • developed a Control Self Assessment (CSA) tool for use by schools
  • conducted a number of investigations into alleged fraud/misappropriation in schools and parents and citizens' associations
  • maintained positive relationships with clients, evidenced through positive feedback on client survey forms
  • successfully implemented online risk reporting and registering for corporate risk
  • realigned the DET Enterprise Risk Management Program and Framework with the new Australian/New Zealand and International Standard for Risk Management AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009
  • continued to provide contracted audit services to the Queensland Studies Authority and the Gold Coast Institute of TAFE.

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External scrutiny

This section provides information about significant external audits and reviews of the department during the 2009-10 financial year.

The Auditor-General is responsible for the annual audits of public sector clients, including the Department of Education and Training. The Auditor-General provides Parliament with independent assessment of activities in the public sector. Auditor-General reports for the 2009-10 year that are applicable to DET are discussed below.

Report to Parliament No.6 for 2010 - Using student information to inform teaching and learning

The objective of this audit was to determine whether DET had effective and efficient systems to use student data to inform literacy and numeracy teaching and learning. To assess the systems in place interviews were conducted with senior officers and central office managers. Field visits were made to 12 state primary schools and five regional offices in both metropolitan and country areas. A questionnaire was also sent to a sample of 150 state primary schools

The Queensland Audit Office (QAO) tabled the report in the Legislative Assembly in May 2010.

The audit found Release Two of the OneSchool system provides staff at central offices, regional office and schools with the capacity to undertake a range of analysis on student background behaviour and performance, and the new module also allows analysis of the literacy and numeracy performance of Years 3, 5 and 7 students in comparison with national targets.

The audit concluded that although some schools had good practices and systems to support staff to analyse student data and use it to inform teaching and learning, there were opportunities for improvement, and recommended that DET:

  • provide teachers and principals with access to further training in the skills and competencies necessary for them to analyse the full range of student data, both NAPLAN and school-based
  • strengthen guidelines for regions about how to use a broad range of data, including information on school systems to prioritise the support provided to schools to improve outcomes for students
  • ensure that school curriculum plans and assessment policies are regularly monitored for compliance with the department's standards
  • strengthen existing performance management processes to ensure feedback is provided to teachers on their skills, competencies and development needs to implement the school's curriculum plans
  • revise the department's model for planning, monitoring and reporting on the delivery of regional services to provide greater clarity of responsibility to this part of the organisation
  • review school planning processes to ensure that principals' supervisors provide regular feedback and monitoring of the implementation of the priorities in school and annual operation plans
  • revise the requirements for school annual reports to ensure that information reported allows stakeholders to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of school performance
  • review the objectives and performance measures relating to schooling in its strategic plan and service delivery statement to ensure they are measurable and relevant.

Report to Parliament No 7 for 2010 - Information systems governance and control, including the Queensland Health Implementation of Continuity Project

A follow up audit was performed in 2010 to ascertain the status of the implementation of prior year audit recommendations relating to information technology governance and the OneSchool program.

The follow up audit, conducted in 2010, found that the department had taken action to address all the recommendations made during the previous audit.

QAO assessed the department's information technology governance as being at a developing stage with the initial steps for the establishment of an information technology governance framework having been undertaken.

The full audit reports, including DET's comprehensive responses, are available on the QAO website External Link.

Building the Education Revolution in Queensland State Schools - A report to the Minister for Education and Training

In 2009 the Minister for Education and Training requested an independent examination of the Building the Education Revolution (BER) Program in Queensland state schools.

First review: In August 2009 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was engaged by DET to carry out an independent and objective review of systems and processes put in place by DET to plan, coordinate and deliver the BER program in Queensland, and advise on the improvement of these systems and processes.

Independent examination: In June 2010, PwC was engaged by DET to carry out an independent and objective examination of the systems that had been put in place, and the management of those systems and processes by DET to implement the Australian Government's BER Program in Queensland state schools. PwC was asked to analyse and comment on the findings of the review and, where appropriate, advise on or suggest improvements to these systems and processes.

The four key areas of examination addressed in the report are summarised below:

  1. Undertake a survey and detailed assessment of a sample of BER projects in state schools. The survey sampling size will be determined in accordance with Australian Sampling Standard ASS 1199, Sampling Procedures for Inspection by Attribute.
  2. Undertake consultation with a number of representatives of education and industry associations that are members of the Minister's Consultative Committee. Consultation should seek to determine if the BER program objectives have been achieved from each stakeholder's perspective.
  3. Review the areas of DET's implementation of the BER guidelines that could not be fully assessed in the first review, using the diagnostic tool employed in that review, updated to reflect any subsequent amendment to those guidelines.
  4. In the context of the implementation of the BER program in Queensland state schools, investigate complaints received by PwC.

The independent examination of the BER Program in Queensland state schools found:

  • overall value for money is being achieved
  • management processes and cost controls implemented by DET are effective
  • professional fees were within prescribed caps
  • BER additional workload is challenging for some school principals, especially those in smaller schools.

The full report to the Minister for Education and Training is available online at Building the Education Revolution (new window) Adobe PDF document.

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Consultancies

External consultants are engaged when appropriate skills are not available within the department, or where an independent view is required.

In 2009-10, DET expenditure on consultancies totalled $1 286 358.

Table 27: Expenditure on consultancies, 2009-10

Category

Expenditure ($)

Finance/accounting

$130 837

Human resource management

$324 450

Information technology

$88 904

Legal services

$51 466

Management

  • Corporate management projects
$452 072
  • Teaching, learning and curriculum projects

$152 118

Professional/technical

$86 511

Total consultancy expenditure

$1 286 358

Source: Department of Education and Training

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Overseas travel

Overseas travel by staff within the DET falls into three main categories:

  • business
  • professional development
  • school study tours.

In previous years, reporting of expenditure for overseas travel by DET only provided estimated 'agency' and 'other' costs. Following recommendations from the Queensland Audit Office and the Minister, a new reporting process has been introduced. The department has implemented new systems that enable reporting of actual 'agency' and 'other' costs for all overseas travel by DET staff.

Agency costs are those met from departmental funds and include monies raised by schools through community fundraising. Contributions from other agencies or sources include contractual agreement costs, personal contributions, or funding from other external sources such as scholarships, overseas governments and professional associations.

The majority of school study tour costs are from parent and teacher contributions for travel by students and the teachers who accompany them. School study tours provide opportunities for hundreds of Queensland students annually to participate in co-curricular learning opportunities, including international competitions, sporting events and language and intercultural immersion experiences.

The detailed report of overseas travel is contained as Appendix 5 (new window) 1.7M Adobe PDF document of this report.

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Access to information (Right to Information)

The Right to Information reforms are the Queensland Government's approach to giving the community greater access to information.

The Queensland Government has made a commitment to provide access to information held by the Government, unless on balance it is contrary to the public interest to provide that information.

New legislation replacing the Freedom of Information Act 1992 came into effect on 1 July 2009, namely:

  • Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act)
  • Information Privacy Act 2009 (IP Act).

These reforms aim to make more information available, provide equal access to information across all sectors of the community, and provide appropriate protection for individuals' privacy.

The RTI Act provides a right of access to information in the government's possession or under its control unless, on balance, the release of the information would be contrary to the public interest.

The IP Act provides:

  • a framework for the fair collection and handling of all personal information in the public sector
  • a right of access to, and amendment of, personal information in the government's possession or under its control unless, on balance, the release or the amendment of the information would be contrary to the public interest.

Further information regarding accessing information under these pieces of legislation is available at DET's Right to information website.

Table 28: Right to Information data

RTI/IP statistics

2009-10

Applications received during 2009-10

272

Applications finalised during 2009-10 (including applications received during 2008-09 which were finalised in 2009-10)

247

Source: Department of Education and Training

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Administrative access

Access to information held by DET may also be provided administratively without the need to lodge a legislative request under either the RTI or IP Acts.

For further information on how to access information administratively go to:

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Keeping the public informed

Communication of government services is essential to keep the community informed on matters such as proposed reforms in education including moving Year 7 to secondary school, major changes to early childhood education, including universal access to a kindergarten program, encouraging all parents to read to their children to give them a flying start in life, ensuring Queenslanders are aware of the programs and services available to help them gain skills to meet the needs of the current and future jobs market, and to provide accurate and timely advice about school, TAFE and early childhood service closures due to storms and severe flooding.

As at 30 June 2010, the department employed 18.26 full-time equivalent staff whose functions relate to media and public relations.

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Public disclosure

In keeping with its culture of openness and transparency, the department's policy on whistleblower protection supports the investigation of public interest disclosures. It also protects from reprisal any employee or manager who genuinely makes such disclosures.

During 2009-10, there were 11 cases of public interest disclosure relating to alleged official misconduct or serious misconduct:

  • nine were verified and appropriate action was taken on a case-by-case basis
  • two are still being investigated.

The department's policy has been developed in accordance with the Whistleblowers Protection Act 1994.

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Information privacy

In providing its services, the department collects personal information from students, parents and caregivers, staff, volunteers and other people. The department is committed to protecting and dealing with the personal information entrusted to it in a fair, secure and ethical manner, and ensuring that any breaches of privacy are appropriately addressed.

In 2009-10, the department continued to implement the Queensland Government's Information Standard 42: Information Privacy (IS42), ensuring that the collection, storage, use and disclosure of any personal information complied with the 11 Information Privacy Principles prescribed in IS42.

The Information Privacy Act 2009 replaced IS42 on 1 July 2009. This legislation codifies the current privacy regime and the 11 Information Privacy Principles prescribed in IS42, providing for the fair collection and handling of personal information in the public sector. The Information Privacy Act 2009 also provides a right for individuals to access or amend any of their personal information held by a government agency.

Any person who considers that their personal information has not been dealt with by the department in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2009 may make a complaint under that Act to the Information Commissioner. Information with respect to complaints can be accessed at Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland.

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Policy and Procedures Register

The department has procedural policies for corporate units, schools and TAFEs to support decision making and to ensure operations are in line with legislation.

The department's Policy and Procedures Register (PPR) provides a centralised location for many of the department's policies, procedures, guidelines and other administrative instructions.

This central register ensures policies and procedures are developed through an integrated quality assurance system, and are managed in accordance with legislated and other recordkeeping requirements under the Public Records Act 2002. The PPR process also ensures that policies undergo regular review.

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Recordkeeping

Physical and electronic records are necessary for business operations and accountability requirements, and to meet community expectations.

All departmental records are 'public records' as defined under the Public Records Act 2002. The department applies whole-of-government information policies and standards to these, and is progressively implementing Information Standard 40: Recordkeeping.

Effective document and records management provides:

  • reliable access to information assets
  • informed decision making
  • cost-effective use of information resources
  • business continuity
  • compliance with legislation
  • compliance with departmental policies and procedures.

The department has used an electronic Document and Records Management System (eDRMS) since 2002 to manage its documents and records. The eDRMS assists departmental officers in corporate areas to effectively manage all types of corporate records.

In 2009-10, the department continued to implement standardised document and records management tools, systems and processes across the department, and reviewed the department's Corporate Thesaurus and Business Classification Scheme.

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