Commissioner's foreword

Last updated: 27 Nov 2017

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The Australian Public Service (the APS) is an enduring institution with a history of service to the Australian public. When the APS was established in 1901 it was underpinned by a strong legislative basis that remains a hallmark today. The essential characteristics of a committed and apolitical public service have been retained.

The APS has embraced and adapted to change driven by political, economic and social influences. Today a quality workforce of more than 150,000 employees is positioned to continue its high quality service and to meet future challenges.

The nature of work in the APS and the way it is undertaken is dynamic and subject to constant change.

For the APS, significant but manageable changes will be encountered. Anticipated examples include:

  • Changes to individual jobs. Some jobs will go, some will be modified and some new roles created. Effective workforce planning will become more critical. Proactive approaches to workforce planning, performance management, training and development, recruitment and retention will be important. Such approaches can mitigate the impact on current employees.
  • Individuals will have greater flexibility to determine when and where they work. Business success will depend on an engaged and flexible workforce. ‘Flexible by default’ is already the position of many APS workplaces.
  • Management hierarchies will be modified. Formal hierarchies assume a linear career path through expertise to managerial positions. This no longer applies and remuneration systems will have to better use existing flexibility provisions to reward expert contributions that may not fit traditional salary structures. Managers will be less able to exercise influence through structured authority. Instead subject knowledge and bringing together the many and varied skills of team members to achieve good outcomes will be sought.
  • The demographic composition of the APS will change with more older workers and greater representation of diversity groups. An APS that is open to a wide range of people from different backgrounds, experience and perspectives is better placed to contribute to Australian society, be innovative, and more representative of the public it serves.

The quality of APS leadership will dictate how successful we will be in adapting to the workplace of the future. Leaders require a strategic focus, the capacity to build relationships, manage issues and be innovative. Leaders have to assess the potential impact of change and find ways to support their agencies to prepare and adapt. Strong leaders are courageous, self-aware, resilient and act with integrity. Many in the APS fit this description and through our talent management activities we are developing more future leaders.

The APS has exemplary ethical leaders and employees. Our leaders are engaged with and aware of the importance of integrity. We are not complacent and encourage a culture that supports ethical conduct and high performance. Integrity and the commitment to performance are fundamental to the APS being efficient, effective and responsive to the government and Australian community.

The APS has made significant progress to embrace the changes that have arisen. Work is well underway to position the APS to successfully meet future challenges and changes. Much of what we have already achieved, along with what we are continuing to achieve, is presented in this twentieth annual State of the Service Report. I encourage you to read this report and the supporting information and analysis available on the State of the Service website
(www.stateoftheservice.apsc.gov.au).

The Honourable John Lloyd PSM
Australian Public Service Commissioner

3 November 2017