Release of the independent Australian Public Service Hierarchy and Classification Review
APS culture and capability in spotlight following independent review
Today the Australian Public Service (APS) Commissioner, Mr Peter Woolcott AO, released the independent APS Hierarchy and Classification Review, which looks at how the APS can reduce hierarchy, adopt best practice ways of working and make the best use of the capability and expertise of all APS people.
Mr Woolcott said the APS will act on many of the findings but will not make changes to classifications at this stage, instead taking measured steps towards more modern structures and ways of working, guided by the issues raised in the review.
“A key theme of the review is strengthening APS culture and capability, and we will begin our work there,” Mr Woolcott said.
“I strongly support the aspiration to modernise the way we operate in the APS, to better position ourselves to meet future challenges and provide more rewarding careers for our people.”
These ambitions were first highlighted by the Independent Review of the APS 2019 (the Thodey Review) to make sure that the APS is well prepared for the future.
The Hierarchy and Classification Review was initiated by the APS Commission in 2021 and conducted by an independent panel, consisting of Dr Heather Smith PSM, Ms Kathryn Fagg AO FTSE and Mr Finn Pratt AO PSM.
“As we rise to the opportunities ahead, our APS culture must continue to evolve – to better value people for their contribution regardless of rank, to actively grow great leaders, and to embrace flexible and modern ways of working.”
Work is already underway. Secretaries have released a new Charter of Leadership Behaviours, which illustrates what great leadership should look like in a modern APS. Staff can expect to hear more from their leaders about the Charter over coming months.
“The Charter sets out the behaviours expected of senior APS leaders and desirable in leaders at all levels. It emphasises collaboration, integrity, respecting and valuing others and empowering people - key behaviours modern APS leaders need to succeed.”
In keeping with the focus on leadership, the APS Academy is co-designing an approach to bolster the capability development offering for managers, focusing initially on EL2s.
“The expectations placed on APS managers continue to change and evolve, as we respond to changing technology and more flexible ways of working. So too we need to evolve our approach to growing and supporting managers as they adapt to new ways of working. This will be an important focus for the Academy over coming months.
“The review makes important points around how to attract and retain talent, particularly those staff with specialist skills, and we’ll be looking at that as part of our focus on capability.”
Mr Woolcott said the review’s bold proposal for classification reform is more complex.
“The panel makes a good case for its ambitious proposals around classification reform, but the timing and viability of such complex reform needs to be carefully weighed. We are not looking to make changes to classifications at this stage,” Mr Woolcott said.
“Any decision to proceed with classification reform in the future would need to be looked at further in consultation with staff, stakeholders and as part of the Government’s reform agenda.
“My priority is updating our guidance on Optimal Management Structures. This will go a long way to deliver the aims of the review, while allowing agencies to adjust their structures flexibly over time.”
The APSC will do further work on optimal management structures, ways of working and specialist arrangements, informed by consultation with staff and stakeholders. Workshops will start in November 2022.
“This is an exciting time for the APS, as we work with Government to drive positive change for Australians. I thank the independent review panel and all those who contributed to their work, including through the public consultation process,” Mr Woolcott said.
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