The ACMA is implementing an enhanced Continuous improvement program (CIP) in response to the feedback that stakeholders have provided to the ACMA about its engagement processes and areas for performance improvement. Ongoing feedback from our key stakeholders is critical to identifying areas for improvement in performance, in regulatory frameworks and in receiving evidence to inform regulatory assessments that is held accountable for the explanation of its regulatory decisions.
The CIP will allow the ACMA to embed feedback mechanisms in a more structured way with the implementation of an annual improvement program with a rolling set of priorities identified through our stakeholder engagement processes, internal review and the RPF self-assessment.
Over the next 12 months, the CIP will focus on improving the effectiveness and ease of use of the ACMA’s stakeholder consultation processes and instigating a restructured and redesigned annual work program for 2016–17.
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About the CIP
The ACMA’s mandate is to deliver a communications and media environment that balances the needs of the industry and the Australian community through regulation, education and advice.
Our adopted purpose is making communications and media work in Australia’s public interest.
We engage with industry and consumer stakeholders using the construct of communication, facilitation, and then regulation if necessary, to deliver outcomes that are transparent, coherent and consistent.
The standard against which we seek to measure is to be, and to be recognised as, a world-leading, best-practice converged communications regulator.
The way we deliver these outcomes is further assessed against the regulator performance framework (RPF) that measures the efficiency and effectiveness with which regulators undertake their roles, and in particular, their impact on regulated entities. As part of our implementation of the regulator performance framework, we are encouraged to:
- minimise the impact of regulatory burden on regulated communities
- increase its transparency and accountability
- focus on the continuous improvement of regulatory frameworks.
The CIP provides an additional focus to facilitate RPF outcomes and serves as an ongoing feedback loop in our RPF self-assessment reporting. Successive self-assessment cycles will allow us to identify potential areas for improvement and report on its progress against identified areas.
Our RPF self-assessment methodology acknowledges a number of areas for improvement and flagged a set of initial actions to be implemented as part of an ongoing continuous improvement program. Activities identified include:
- reinstating the publication of an annual forward work program
- implementing improved communications around our compliance priorities
- developing simpler ways to engage in regulatory processes
- adopting a more consistent approach to providing feedback and explaining regulatory decisions.
These activities have informed the initial development of the CIP with a focus on two key programs:
- development of a revised and restructure annual forward work plan
- revision of the ACMA’s consultation strategy and processes. This will enable simpler engagement with regulatory processes by stakeholders, a greater understanding of ACMA decision-making processes, and clarity around the process for feedback.
In instigating the CIP, we will:
- Consolidate current information on forward planning and consultation processes on our website, including reinstating the forward work plan for 2015–16.
- Undertake a more comprehensive program review to address how the ACMA coordinates and streamlines its information provision for stakeholders regarding consultations, operational planning and compliance prioritisation. Programs developed in response to this will be rolled out by the beginning of the 2016–17 financial year.
Forward work program
We currently produce a range of sector-specific planning programs that outline forward work agendas. These are used as a mechanism to engage with stakeholders on operational activities.
As part of the ACMA’s CIP, we have committed to reinstating an annual forward work plan program. In preparation for this, we have consolidated our current publicly available communication resources into a single report to improve information accessibility and understanding for stakeholders about the ACMA’s forward planning activities for 2015–16.
Stakeholders have indicated to us they would see more utility in an annual forward work program that provides detailed information across our projects, compliance priorities and operational activities. In response, as part of the CIP, we will review how we provide forward work planning information to our stakeholders. This work will involve the release of a restructured and redesigned annual work program covering these elements for the start of the 2016–17 financial year.
Consultation and stakeholder engagement
We have adopted a strategic approach to engaging with our stakeholders, using issue-specific tools tailored to the appropriate level of interaction. This features a tiered approach for engaging with our stakeholder community—incorporating an emphasis on consultation for targeted communications on specific regulatory issues, the use of formal consultation processes and issue-specific forums. These are supported by strategic communications campaigns and a sophisticated digital communications capability.
In developing and reviewing policy and regulation, we will, as early as practicable, consult widely with interested parties. Where appropriate, we will also seek to engage with stakeholders on the decision-making processes and outcomes of investigations. We employ a range of issue-specific tools for consultation, but in general will:
- provide information about our public consultation processes and practical guidance on how to make a submission
- allow reasonable time frames to make a submission—consultations are generally open for four to six weeks
- provide information about the policy or regulatory change
- prepare a regulation impact statement if there is a significant effect on business
- acknowledge receipt of submissions
- post copies or summary of submissions online (as appropriate)
- respond to submissions online, by email or phone (as appropriate and where confidentiality is not sought)
- provide information about investigation compliance priority areas, decision-making processes and outcomes, where appropriate.
Below is a list of our current consultation activities, and consultation advice:
Under the continuous improvement program (CIP), we intend to expand these measures to ensure that the ACMA’s its efforts continue to reflect best practice principles. Stakeholders have indicated to us they would like to see a more specific focus on how our consultation processes, including:
- providing advice to industry on the timing of upcoming consultations to enable them to plan their engagement more strategically
- providing more consistent messaging to industry and stakeholders regarding our approach to consultations
- offering feedback on the outcomes of consultation processes
- enabling greater transparency about how consultations inform final decision making.
We will continue to inform stakeholders about the ACMA’s strategic priorities and opportunities for stakeholder engagement with our processes through annual updates and our forward work plan.
The ACMA welcomes further discussion from interested parties on its continuous improvement program. Feedback can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.