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Departmental Overview

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Role and outcome

The primary role of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is to provide support to the Prime Minister and to achieve a coordinated approach to the development and implementation of government policies. The planned outcome for the department is:

sound and well coordinated government policies, programmes and decision making processes.

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The department contributes to the achievement of this outcome through four output groups:

  • group 1 outputs include policy advice on economic, industry, infrastructure and environment issues, and effective Council of Australian Governments (COAG) operations
  • group 2 outputs include policy advice on social and women’s issues, and the administration, on behalf of the government, of a number of programmes, including Partnerships Against Domestic Violence and grants to non-government women’s organisations
  • group 3 outputs include policy advice to the Prime Minister on international relations and security issues
  • group 4 outputs include policy advice on parliamentary, machinery of government and legal and cultural issues, and a range of support services for government operations including: coordination of Cabinet and Executive Council business; policy advice on coordination and promotion of national awards and symbols; coordination of government communications and advertising; administration of the Prime Minister’s official establishments; and administration of the visits and hospitality programme.

Figure 2 sets out the organisational structure and the senior staff responsible for each output. Some of the outputs involve administered items; those are described in detail in the relevant reports on performance. The outputs are set out in Figure 3.

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The principal matters the department deals with are:

  • coordination of government administration - ensuring a whole-of-government approach on issues ranging from domestic security and border protection to programmes supporting individuals, families and communities
  • assistance to Cabinet and its committees - managing processes and procedures to facilitate the decision making role of Cabinet
  • policy advice and administrative support to the Prime Minister - covering the full spectrum of the Australian Government’s responsibilities, including major domestic and international matters
  • intergovernmental relations and communications with state and territory governments - including coordinating arrangements for meetings of COAG, developing strategies and providing advice on a diverse range of matters from sport and tourism to natural resources policy
  • Australian honours and symbols policy - including support for related public education and communications campaigns, nominations for awards and applications for medals
  • government ceremonial and hospitality activities - including organising major events such as visits by heads of state, making logistic arrangements for the Prime Minister’s overseas visits, and organising memorial services and welcome home parades to honour personnel who have contributed to overseas military operations
  • status of women - ensuring awareness of gender issues is reflected in all government policy and programme development
  • coordination of government communications and advertising - ensuring, through the Government Communications Unit, cost-effective media placement for government advertising.

In January 2003, the Prime Minister’s Energy Taskforce Secretariat was established under the chairmanship of an Associate Secretary reporting under Output 1.

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Organisational structure

On 23 May 2003, the Secretary announced changes to be made to the organisational structure of the department. As a result, the following two new outputs will be added once the proposed changes are formally implemented early in 2003-04 :

  • Output 3.2 - Defence, Intelligence and Security Policy
  • Output 4.2 - Cabinet Implementation Unit.

The current outputs 4.2 to 4.6 will be renumbered 4.3 to 4.7.

At 30 June 2003, the department comprised the Executive, seven divisions, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Energy Taskforce Secretariat. The costs of corporate services are apportioned as a component of each of the four output groups’ price of outputs.

The revised structure announced by the Secretary is designed to focus and strengthen the department’s ability to provide services to the Prime Minister. During the reporting period the department moved progressively towards the new structure, in advance of its full implementation early in 2003-04.

The following measures took effect from the time of the announcement on 23 May 2003:

  • the Corporate Support Branch combined with the Government Communications Division to become the People, Resources and Communications Division reporting through Greg Williams to Deputy Secretary Jeff Whalan
  • the Cabinet Secretariat commenced reporting to Deputy Secretary David Borthwick
  • the Ceremonial and Hospitality Branch commenced reporting through Gillian Bird to Deputy Secretary Andrew Metcalfe.

Other changes to internal reporting arrangements were made during the year.

The International Division, which formerly reported directly to the Secretary, commenced reporting to Deputy Secretary Andrew Metcalfe early in 2003.

Towards the end of 2002-03, arrangements were being finalised to transfer responsibility for supporting the National Security Committee of Cabinet and the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security from the International Division to the Cabinet Secretariat. This change is intended to bring the processes for these two important committees closer to those of Cabinet and other Cabinet committees and to concentrate the support responsibilities in a specialised support area.

Further changes to reporting arrangements will be made once the National Security Division and the Cabinet Implementation Unit are in place early in 2003-04.

The National Security Division under Output 3.2 will take over a number of existing functions from an expanded International Division. The new division, to be staffed by about 30 people, will focus on counter-terrorism, defence, intelligence, security, law enforcement and border protection. This will ensure a continued high level of coordination and reinforce a whole-of-government approach to national security issues. The department will not only coordinate activities across the Australian Public Service but also, through its chairmanship of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee, ensure the Commonwealth, states and territories liaise and work closely together.

The Cabinet Implementation Unit will ensure that strategic Australian Government policies and services are being delivered to the community in a timely and responsive manner. Together with the Cabinet Secretariat it will form part of a newly established Cabinet Division.

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Figure 2 Organisational structure and senior staffing as at 30 June 2003

Click on the image to view a larger image (82 kb)

Text version of figure 2

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Figure 3    Departmental outcome and output groups
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Planned outcome is sound and well-coordinated government policies, programmes and decision making processes.
Output Group 1

Economic policy
advice and

Output 1.1 - Economic and Industry Policy

Output 1.1 - Energy Taskforce Secretariat

Output Group 2

Social policy
advice and

Output 2.1 - Social Policy

Output 2.2 - Women's Policy

Output Group 3

International policy
advice and

Output 3.1 - International Policy

Output Group 4

Support services
for government

Output 4.1 - Cabinet Secretariat

Output 4.2 - Machinery of Government

Output 4.3 - Government Communications

Output 4.4 - Support to Official Establishments

Output 4.5 - Support for Ministerial Offices

Output 4.6 - Ceremonial and Hospitality


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