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Part 3: Delivery of high-quality advice to Council, and achievement of its endorsed priorities, through strengthened capacity of the Commission and the Commission Office

Strategy 3.1
Employ contemporary best-practice financial and business management systems

Business planning

At its meeting of 19 May 2006 the Ministerial Council welcomed the Australian Government initiative to inject an additional $500 million into the Commission. Council approval of the revised 2006–07 MDBC Business Plan and Budget was sought through an out-of-session decision.

Draft three-year rolling plans, based on the three-year rolling plan framework agreed by the Commission Strategy Committee (meeting 6–9 August 2006), were developed by the MDBC Office in consultation with relevant working groups and taskforces for 19 MDBC programs.

The three-year rolling plans sit within the overall budget and business planning framework and establishes clear linkages to the MDBC Strategic Plan. The plans focus on three objectives, as defined in the Strategic Plan 2005–2010, to implement the MDBC’s responsibilities under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement and the policies and decisions of Ministerial Council.

Year one of the three-year rolling plan provides the basis of the budget for the following year and includes forward projections for two out-years and indicative projections for an additional two out-years.

The Ministerial Council meeting of 25 May 2007 approved the MDBC 2007–08 Business Plan and Budget and noted the Commission’s considerable efforts to improve business planning and the quality of advice to Ministerial Council.

The Commission Office has commenced the integration of the yearly budget and business planning process with the three-year rolling plan process to further streamline planning.

Performance reporting framework

A performance reporting framework, which incorporates reporting on progress against financial and non-financial performance was implemented in 2006–07. The framework informs Council, Commission and high-level committees of the MDBC’s progress against the strategies and tasks that underpin the Strategic Plan and the supporting annual business plans.

In December 2006, the first end-of-calendar year review was undertaken to provide Ministerial Council with a clear picture of progress against the 2006–07 budget revised in September 2006.

Program managers, in consultation with working groups where relevant, developed key performance indicators, that were incorporated into the quarterly performance report and piloted for the fourth quarter of 2006–07. Full performance reporting will be implemented for 2007–08.

Financial management

The Finance and Administration team is responsible for the Commission Office financial framework – budget and performance reporting, financial policies and procedures, contract management and office accommodation. Major achievements for the team during 2006–07 included the upgrade of the financial accounting system, revision of the Chart of Accounts, Commission approval of a revised Delegations instrument to reflect current staffing and structure of the Commission Office and the oversight of the seamless relocation of the Commission to new office premises.