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Appendix: Review of performance by function

The information on activity and performance provided in this appendix refers to the Merit Protection Commissioner’s statutory functions. Information on the Merit Protection Commissioner’s functions can be found at www.meritprotectioncommission.gov.au.

Review of employment actions

The Merit Protection Commissioner, under section 33 of the Public Service Act and Part 5 of the Regulations, conducts three main categories of reviews:

  • reviews of breaches of the APS Code of Conduct
  • reviews of other employment actions
  • reviews of promotion decisions.

Table M2 provides information on the number of applications for review (other than promotion review) received and reviews completed in 2016–17. Table M3 provides information on the timeliness with which this function was performed. Both tables compare results for 2016–17 with those for 2015–16.

Table M2: Review of employment actions workload for 2016–17, by type of review, compared with total reviews in 2015–16
Cases Primary reviews—Code of Conduct Primary reviews—other Secondary reviews Complaints/reviews by former employees Total
2016–17 2016–17 2015–16

Notes: There is a variation in the number of cases on hand at the end of 2015–16 and at the start of 2016–17 because two cases were reassessed and handled as one case.

Primary reviews are reviews conducted by the Merit Protection Commissioner (MPC) without first being reviewed by the agency head. Secondary reviews are conducted by the MPC following a review conducted by the agency head or after the agency head decides the matter is not reviewable but the MPC considers it is.

On hand at start of year 28 3 14 1 46 34
Received during the period 58 14 99 6 177 198
Total cases 86 17 113 7 223 232
Reviewed 50 2 39 2 93 75
Not accepted 12 10 52 3 77 91
Lapsed or withdrawn 17 3 9 1 30 19
Total finalised during period 79 15 100 6 200 185
On hand at end of year 7 2 13 1 23 47
Table M3: Timeliness in handling reviews, 2016–17 compared with 2015–16
Review type 2015–16 2016–17
Average time to complete reviews (weeks) Completed within target timeframes (%) Average time to complete reviews (weeks) Completed within target timeframes (%)
Primary reviews—Code of Conduct 13.04 88.57 13.72 78
Primary reviews—other 8.14 100 22.36 50
Secondary reviews 12.58 92.31 15.3 79.5
Reg 7.2/7.2A NA NA 16.29 50
Total 12.91 90.67 14.62 77.4

The target timeframe for completion of primary and secondary reviews is 14 weeks from receipt of application.

Table M4 details the number of reviews by agency concerned.

Table M4: Reviews completed, by agency, 2016–17
Agency concerned Primary reviews—Code of Conduct Primary reviews—other Secondary reviews Reviews/complaints by former employees Total
Department of Human Services 23 1 24 0 48
Australian Taxation Office 9 0 1 0 10
Department of Defence 6 0 1 0 7
Department of Immigration and Border Protection 2 0 3 1 6
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2 0 0 0 2
CrimTrac 2 0 0 0 2
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources 0 0 2 0 2
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development 2 0 0 0 2
Fourteen other agencies (one review each) 4 1 8 1 14
Total 50 2 39 2 93

Table M5 shows the main subject matter and the secondary subject matters for all secondary  cases reviewed in 2016–17. The data in Table M5 is not directly comparable with the data in tables M2–M4, because a review may involve more than one subject matter.

Table M5: Subject matter of reviews completed, 2016–17
Subject matter Secondary subject matter Number
Note: Excludes Code of Conduct cases.
Conditions of employment Allowances/other payments 1
Leave 13
Hours of work 2
Other entitlements 2
Subtotal   18
Duties Assignment/temporary assignment of duties 3
Relocation 2
Reclassification 2
Suspension 1
Fitness for duty assessment 1
Subtotal   9
Performance management Counselling 2
Performance appraisal 3
Performance pay 1
Workplace direction 1
Underperformance 5
Subtotal   12
Workplace environment and arrangements Discrimination 2
Management practices 1
Subtotal   3
Harassment Bullying and harassment 3
Subtotal   3
Total   45

Table M6 shows the subject matter for all Code of Conduct cases reviewed in 2016–17. The data in Table M6 is not directly comparable with that in tables M2–M4, because a review may involve more than one subject matter.

Table M6: Subject matter of Code of Conduct reviews completed, 2016–17
Subject matter identified Number
Unauthorised access of agency databases 11
Failure to follow a direction 8
Bullying and harassment 5
Lack of respect and courtesy 5
Inappropriate use of email/internet 4
Failure to record attendance accurately 3
Misuse of Commonwealth property/assets 3
Inappropriate public comment/privacy breach 1
Misuse of credit card 1
Other (providing false information, illegal drug use, unreasonable directions) 6
Total number of matters identified 47

Review of promotion decisions

The Merit Protection Commissioner establishes promotion review committees to conduct reviews of promotion decisions for jobs at the APS 1 to 6 classifications.

Details of the promotion review caseload for 2015–16 are in Table M6. In this table, ‘case’ means an application by one or more APS employees for review of a promotion decision or decisions arising from a discrete agency selection exercise.

Table M7: Promotion review caseload, 2016–17 compared with 2015–16
Promotion review cases 2015–16 2016–17
Note: There is a variation in totals for 2015–16 published in the Merit Protection Commissioner’s Annual Report 2015–16 because one case that was subsequently withdrawn was incorrectly recorded as being lodged in 2016–17.
On hand at start of year 23 28
Received during the period 176 177
Total caseload 199 205
Reviewed 108 141
Not accepted 11 13
Lapsed or withdrawn 53 48
Total finalised during period 172 202
On hand at end of year 27 3
Target completion time (weeks) 8 or 12 8 or 12
Completed within target time (number) 104 130
Completed within target time (percentage) 96% 92%

Table M8 lists those agencies whose promotions attracted review applications and the number of promotions considered.

Table M8: Review of promotion decisions, by agency, 2016–17
Agency Promotion reviews finalised Total applications received ‘Active’ applications received ‘Protective’ applications received Promotion decisions considered Promotion decisions varied

Notes: An APS employee may make an application for review of one or more promotion decisions. Not all applications are considered by a promotion review committee. Some applications are withdrawn, are held to be invalid or, in the case of ‘protective’ applications, do not proceed to review.

Unsuccessful candidates for a promotion may lodge an ‘active’ application seeking review of a promotion decision.

Employees who have been promoted and whose promotion may be subject to review may lodge a ‘protective’ application against the promotion of other successful candidates.

Australian Taxation Office 67 607 156 451 622 4
Department of Human Services 40 232 79 153 221 0
Department of Immigration and Border Protection 19 126 27 99 146 1
Department of Veterans’ Affairs 3 7 3 4 7 0
Fair Work Ombudsman 3 4 4 0 3 0
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources 2 2 2 0 4 0
Seven other agencies (with one review) 7 7 7 0 11 0
Total 141 985 278 707 1,015 5

Fee-related services

Code of Conduct inquiries

Section 50A of the Public Service Act enables the Merit Protection Commissioner to inquire into and determine whether an APS employee or former employee has breached the Code of Conduct. Table M9 sets out information on Code of Conduct inquiry activity for 2016–17 compared with that for 2015–16.

Table M9: Code of Conduct inquiries, 2016–17 compared with 2015–16
Status 2015–16 2016–17
On hand at start of year 0 2
Received during the period 5 8
Total workload 5 10
Completed 2 8
Lapsed/withdrawn 1 1
Total finalised during the period 3 9
On hand at end of year 2 1

Independent selection advisory committees

ISACs are established by the Merit Protection Commissioner at an agency head’s request on a fee-for-service basis under Part 4 of the Regulations. Table M10 sets out information on ISAC activity for 2016–17 compared with that for 2015–16.

Table M10: Independent Selection Advisory Committees, 2016–17 compared with 2015–16
  2015–16 2016–17
On hand at start of year 2 6
Received during the period 10 10
Total workload 12 16
Completed 6 11
Lapsed/withdrawn 0 0
Total finalised during the period 6 11
On hand at end of year 6 5