Strategic review of the Department of the Environment

Department of the Environment

Media release
23 October 2013

The Department of the Environment will conduct an internal strategic review of its operations over coming months to examine its core objectives, roles and responsibilities, and to inform its future priorities and organisational arrangements.

The review is being undertaken in the context of the Government's priorities, machinery of government changes following the election and the broader fiscal environmental within which the Department is operating.

Its aim is to strengthen the Department so it is better able to deliver the Government's policies and achieve public good benefits for the Australian environment, economy and society.

The review will be undertaken internally and guided by a reference panel of external experts with deep experience in government who will be appointed by the Secretary in coming weeks.

In the light of existing budget pressures, the Department will also initiate a voluntary redundancy programme aimed at reducing staffing levels by around 150 to ensure it operates within its allocated budget.

The staff of the Department have been advised, as has the Community and Public Sector Union. The Department will work with staff and their representatives to ensure they are engaged through these processes.

Gordon de Brouwer


Terms of Reference

The Department of the Environment will conduct an internal strategic review to examine the roles and functions of the Department and advise on the most effective future structural, governance and other organisational arrangements. It is being proposed in the context of the policy priorities of the newly elected Government, machinery of government changes (especially the addition of domestic climate change and renewable energy policy) and a difficult budget outlook.

The overall aim of the review is to position the Department of the Environment as a strong and resilient organisation, able to deliver the Government's agenda and lead in achieving long term public good benefits for the Australian environment, economy and society.

The review will inform the Department's engagement in and response to the Commission of Audit which will review how government operations can be streamlined and improved.

The review will consider the Department's operations and structure in the context of the Government's policy priorities, our responsibilities under the Administrative Arrangements Order, and the current budget outlook.

Terms of Reference

The review will:

  • advise on the core objectives, roles and responsibilities of the Department, in particular whether they can be achieved in simpler and more streamlined ways consistent with accountability frameworks by a focus on:
    • risk-based approaches;
    • achieving outcomes rather than imposing input controls;
    • reducing burdens on key external parties;
    • reducing burdens in internal processes;
    • eliminating internal duplication and overlap in functions; and
    • reducing overlap between different levels of government in Australia.
  • advise on the priorities for the Department, including activities that could be changed, wound back or ceased;
  • identify opportunities to strengthen policy analysis, including across science and economics, and the use of the evidence base for advice on policy and its implementation across the Department;
  • identify organisational capability gaps and opportunities for professional and career development;
  • advise on governance in the Department, including the structure, points and span of decision making; and
  • advise on current operational, budgetary, reputational and other risks to the Department, potential future risks, and what further action could be taken to mitigate these risks.