Go to top of page

00 Preface

Section 44 of the Public Service Act 1999 (the Act) provides that the Public Service Commissioner must issue a report each year to the agency's minister for presentation to the Australian Parliament. The report must include a report on the state of the Australian Public Service (APS) during the year.

The State of the Service Report 2011–12 identifies the year-to-year trends in workforce participation and capability across the APS. The report also details the initiatives and human resource management practices of APS agencies during 2011–12.

This year's State of the Service report is the fifteenth annual report on the state of the APS that the Public Service Commissioners have presented to parliament. The report has been significantly enhanced since it commenced in 1998, including the addition of an annual online agency survey and an employee census with up to 10 years of data available on key issues. Findings from this year's surveys have been used to assess the capability of the APS to meet future challenges.

This year, the State of the Service report has been organised around three key workforce capability themes, namely:

  • leadership and culture 
  • human capital management 
  • organisational effectiveness.

The 10 chapters in the report are grouped into these themes (as highlighted in the following figure) to provide a focus for understanding the range of workforce capability issues in the APS.

Figure P.1 State of the Service report themes, 2011–12


Source: Australian Public Service Commission

The State of the Service report draws on a range of information sources but its main data sources are the State of the Service agency survey and the State of the Service employee census. The agency survey includes all APS agencies employing at least 20 staff under the Act. All 101 APS agencies, or semi-autonomous parts of agencies, that were invited to participate in the online agency survey in June 2012, completed the survey. These agencies are listed in Appendix 2.

To aid analysis of survey data, and for comparability with previous years' data, agencies have again been grouped according to size. Of the 101 responding agencies, 23 were classified as large (>1,000 APS employees), 31 as medium (251–1,000 APS employees) and 47 as small (20–250 APS employees). These size categories are generally consistent with those used by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).1 Appendix 2 provides information on agencies' APS employee numbers.

To allow further comparisons between similar organisations, agencies have been categorised based on both their size and primary function. The functional clusters have been derived from information that agencies provided in the 2010–11 State of the Service agency survey. The functional clusters are: policy, smaller operational, larger operational, regulatory and specialist. Appendix 2 lists agency functions.

This year the Commission issued a State of the Service employee census to all APS employees, instead of to a stratified random sample as in previous years. While the sample survey conducted previously has provided reliable results at the APS level, the 2012 census will provide more reliable results for smaller demographic groups such as Indigenous employees and employees with disability.

A total of 87,214 valid responses from the employee census were received, representing a response rate of 55%. The number of valid responses allowed a range of cross-tabulations to be used with a degree of confidence. Any ‘significant’ results in the report are statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.

While the size groupings for large and medium agencies are the same for the agency survey and employee census, it should be noted that, for the purposes of the employee census, ‘small’ refers to agencies with less than 251 APS employees. Appendix 3 provides information on the agency and employee data collection methodologies.

The Commission engaged the services of ORIMA Research and ORC International to help design, deliver and compile statistical outputs for the agency survey and employee census respectively.

Agency contact officers in a number of agencies helped develop and pilot test the agency survey. A number of individual APS employees from various agencies (including the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner, Department of Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Public Service Commission) pilot tested the employee census. The Commission is very grateful for this input.

The Australian Public Service Statistical Bulletin 2011–12 has been produced in association with the State of the Service Report 2011–12. These publications are available at: http://www.apsc.gov.au

1 ANAO 1999, Staff Reductions in the Australian Public Service, Performance Audit Report No. 49, 1998–99, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra

Back to top