Operation Free Range

Last updated: 30 May 2017

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Operation Free Range

What is Operation Free Range?

Operation Free Range is a cross government research initiative designed to help us understand employee mobility within the Australian Public Service (APS) context.

Our research will focus on temporary vacancies staffed via secondments or temporary transfers within seven agencies.  It will run for 12 months, kicking off in June 2017.

Through Operation Free Range we're aiming to:

  • Test the benefits of inter-agency mobility.
  • Identify and understand the barriers that impact negatively on mobility.
  • Recommend and refine solutions that can improve mobility, including any IT based solutions.
  • Better position the APS for the future by enabling a more agile and responsive workforce.

Why are we undertaking this project?

We face discrete skills shortages, an ageing population, a fiercely competitive labour market, all situated within a tight fiscal environment that continues to demand seamless service delivery. Requisite skill mixes are also changing as we experience technological expansion. This means we need a better way of getting the best from our potent workforce.

We know there is significant workforce capability and professional expertise within the APS, and we want to utilise it to its best.

Increased mobility of people within and between agencies provides a responsive capability, able to temporarily move to meet project needs, peak or cyclical workforce demands or short notice capability gaps. Increased mobility is a smart strategy and an investment in the future capability of the APS. 

Additionally data from the State of the Service Report and the Employee Census tells us that:

  • Since 2000-01, mobility rates in the APS have never been higher than 3.1 per cent of the APS workforce. In the 2015-16, the rate was 2.9%.
  • 80% of APS levels employee have only ever worked in one agency.
  • 60% of employees want mobility to be more common in their agency.

Who is participating?

This project has been collaboratively designed by the seven agencies participating in the research.

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Australian Communications and Media Authority
  • Australian Public Service Commission
  • Department of Defence
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Health
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.