Finance department launches guide to help public servants set up federal entities

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday August 25, 2020

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The Department of Finance has released a guide to support public servants who have been tasked with setting up new commonwealth entities.

The online resource has been developed in collaboration with other agencies responsible for legislation, policies, frameworks and processes that may need to be followed in setting up an entity, the department says.

The online tool breaks down the varying requirements and necessary steps related to operational arrangements that are made after an entity has been established, Finance notes. It draws on the experiences of those who have recently set up new entities, and uses material provided by stakeholders to deal with issues that would be common for all entities.

However, the guide doesn’t deal with the policy and legislative requirements to create an entity.

With 12 key topics, the resource addresses issues such as appointments and staffing, funding, communications and media, and governance.

The section on purchasing, for example, deals with matters including the commonwealth procurement framework, whole of government travel arrangements, AusTender, and the Commonwealth Contracting Suite.

Meanwhile, the section on information management covers obligations and topics such as copyright, privacy, freedom of information, and records and data management.

Each section also outlines “key tasks” that the responsible public servant must undertake when setting up a new entity. For example, they should establish a risk management framework, and ensure they place all advertising into the federal government’s Central Advertising System.

The guidance notes that the most significant initial priority for those who are setting up a new entity is having key senior people, such as a chief executive officer, and a chief operating officer.

“The engagement of key senior people needs to be made early to provide strategic direction in the operational set-up of a new commonwealth entity,” it says.

Other initial priorities could include staffing and accommodation arrangements, and legal counsel.

The department has also created a key contacts page which lists the details of important agencies and outlines their policy responsibilities so they can be utilised to support the process of setting up a new entity.

Finance says that while the guide is aimed at officials who have been tasked with setting up the operation of a new entity, it may also help public servants who are new to a key role in an entity and the related responsibilities.

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