State of the Service Report 2019-20
The 2019-20 State of the Service Report tabled today, titled Learning through Change, shows how the Australian Public Service (APS) has adapted to and accelerated change, overcoming barriers to deliver for Government and Australians over the last 12 months.
“The 2019-20 State of the Service Report highlights innovation, resilience, and mobility across the APS workforce at scale and pace. I strongly believe that the quality of governance and the quality of institutions are key drivers in keeping a country and its citizens safe and prosperous. The APS response to the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19 has demonstrated this principle in spades,” said Australian Public Service Commissioner, Mr Peter Woolcott AO.
“The events of the last year have impacted all organisations and the APS is no different. Despite the uncertainty of the times, through practical actions we have seen the APS operate as one enterprise, with commitment to service evident in each individual.”
“Responding to the bushfire and COVID-19 crises has required rapid change and highlighted areas where we can improve and develop capability. However we have certainly set the foundation for an APS that can respond to whatever challenges arise in the future,” Mr Woolcott said.
Key points from the State of the Service Report 2019-20 include:
- A surge in demand for Government services required an APS response at a scale previously unseen. For example, in a 55 day period, Services Australia processed 1.3 million Jobseeker claims, a claim volume normally processed in 2.5 years. The Australian Taxation Office also saw call volumes increase by 106% in April compared to the same time last year.
- APS employees moved at record levels for the COVID-19 response with more than 8,900 deployed within portfolios on critical tasks, and 2,300 moving across agencies as part of the APS surge workforce. Around two-thirds of the surge workforce said they would volunteer again to support critical Government priorities.
- The APS is now establishing a permanent Surge Reserve to deliver critical services to the Australian community in times of need.
- Compared to 2019, larger proportions of APS employees are able to identify a clear connection between their job and their agency’s purpose (79% in 2019 APS employee census, 88% in 2020 internal APS agency employee surveys).
- In April, one-fifth of all APS agencies reported that all their employees were working from home. At the highest recorded point, 56% of all employees across the APS were working from home.
- There is no robust evidence to suggest a shift – either positive or negative – in levels of staff productivity over this period. Rather, APS staff, particularly in high priority areas increased their output in some cases to more than double when compared to pre-COVID levels.
- The APS continues to focus on a strong integrity culture – one where misconduct or lack of integrity become more apparent, and employees are sensitive and alert to breaches and respond appropriately.
- Agencies reported that 656 employees were the subject of an investigation (finalised in 2019-20) into a suspected breach of the APS Code of Conduct. This accounts for less than 0.5% of the workforce and demonstrates that reporting and investigation processes are working.
- Strong leadership is a critical part of building organisational resilience, and ensuring the APS is able to sustain its response through the crisis and into recovery. APS leaders demonstrated an appetite to accelerate the move towards one APS, to improve shared systems, and to continuously develop workforce resilience and capacity to respond to future shocks.
- To build depth of expertise across the service the APS Professions Model continues to grow. Human resources, data and digital professional streams were launched this year, strengthening expertise, supporting professional development and career pathways and helping the APS tap into critical capabilities where and when they are needed.
- Important steps continue to be taken to improve APS diversity: the new Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Strategy was launched in July, the new APS Disability Employment Strategy will be launched on 3 December, and a refresh of the Gender Equality Strategy is currently underway.
- APS Employment data for the 12 months to 30 June 2020 shows:
- women occupy 60% of the roles in the APS, following a long-term trend unfolding over the last 50 years.
- a small drop in the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees to 3.5%, despite long-term growth from 2.9% in 2001 to 3.6% in 2019.
- a small increase in the representation of employees with disability to 4.0% (up from 3.9%).
Further insights from the APS workforce on the impacts of COVID-19 including changing work practices, wellbeing and productivity, will be captured by the annual APS employee census. Insights from the census will be publicly released in early 2021.
Watch the Commissioner’s introductory video to the State of the Service Report.
Visit our website to read the full State of the Service Report.
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