Capability review: Department of Human Services

Last updated: 24 Jun 2014

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Foreword

The 2010 report Ahead of the game: Blueprint for the reform of Australian Government administration recommended that the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) undertake regular and systemic reviews to promote improved capability in the key agencies and to assess the institutional capability of the service as a whole.

The methodology used by the APSC to conduct these reviews drew significantly on the United Kingdom Capability Review Programme. Through the knowledge gained from the first tranche of reviews (the three pilots), the United Kingdom methodology has been gradually refined to more closely reflect the Australian context in which the review program is being conducted. This is the third report of the second tranche of capability reviews.

We thank the Department of Human Services for this opportunity. Its support and genuine desire to benefit and learn from this review is evident in the time the Secretary has committed to the review and is complemented by the collaborative and inclusive approach taken by the senior reviewers to their task.

I would like to thank Professor Peter Hughes CNZM , the chair of the review team, and the other senior members of the team, Christine McLoughlin and Ewen McDonald. Once again, this review has demonstrated the advantages of bringing together a team of this calibre.

Steve Sedgwick AO
Australian Public Service Commission

1 About the review

A capability review is a forward-looking, whole-of-agency review that assesses an agency's ability to meet future objectives and challenges.

This review focuses on leadership, strategy and delivery capabilities in the Department of Human Services. It highlights the department's internal management strengths and weaknesses using the model set out in Figure 1. A set of 39 questions is used to guide the assessment of each of the 10 elements of the model. Those assessments are included in Section 4 of this report.

Capability reviews are designed to be relatively short and sharp and to take a high-level view of the strategic operations of the agency. They focus primarily on the views of its senior leadership, but are also informed by the views of its middle management, who attend a series of workshops.

External stakeholders are also interviewed, including relevant ministers, private sector companies, state delivery organisations, peak bodies, interest groups, citizens, clients and central agencies.

Chart: The relationships between the elements of capability - leadership, strategy and delivery

Figure 1 – Model of capability