Defence’s Management of Public Communications and Media Activities

Defence’s Management of Public Communications and Media Activities

The ANAO has published its report following an examination of the effectiveness and appropriateness of the Department of Defence’s management of its public communications and media activities.

Public communication activities within the Commonwealth government are diverse and include advertising campaigns, information campaigns, non-campaign advertising, and a variety of other media, information and marketing activities. These include the provision of support for ministerial communication activities, media liaison, public relations, social media activity and official publications. Agencies have wide discretion in managing and resourcing such activities and many, such as the Department of Defence, have established specific internal capability for this purpose.

In 2018–19, the Department’s Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication budget was around $18.06 million and included an average staffing level of 140.

The audit found that Defence’s arrangements for the appropriate management of its public communications and media activities remain in transition and are not fully effective.

Lessons Learnt
Other Commonwealth, State/Territory and Local Government agencies (as well as larger Not for Profit and private sector entities) can learn from the audit’s recommendations. In brief, they are:

* Clearly document the objective(s), expected outcomes and related performance measures for public communications and media policy and activities, and assess risks to the achievement of the documented objective(s).
* Clarify expectations for the evaluation of planned activities and introduce arrangements to provide assurance that evaluations are completed as expected and in a timely manner.

The following key principles should be in place:

* Policy/Program Design: Effective delivery of an activity requires a clear understanding of what is to be achieved (objectives), the impact of the activity (outcomes) and how success of the activity will be measured.
* Performance and Impact Measurement: Clear articulation of program objectives provides a basis to evaluate the extent to which outcomes are being delivered. This is particularly important for discretionary activities, so as to provide assurance regarding the proper use of public resources.
* Governance: Policies and processes should clearly articulate the behaviour entities expect from their staff when engaging with the media and members of Parliament.

You can read the full report at the ANAO’s website.