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.
My thanks to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport for participating in the capability review. The willingness of all levels to engage with the review team has made for a particularly constructive, collaborative and open process. From Secretary Mrdak down, individual officers have seen the review as a chance to capitalise on the department's strengths and to talk frankly about areas for development. This 'mindset for improvement' sits well with the ethos of the capability reviews and bodes well for change initiatives coming out of this report.
I would like to thank Bill Farmer, the chair of the review team, and the other senior members of the team, Gary Sturgess and Susan Page. Once again, this review has demonstrated the advantages of bringing together a team of this calibre.
Stephen Sedgwick AO
Australian Public Service Commissioner
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 Infrastructure and Transport. 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. They focus primarily on its senior leadership, but are 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.
Figure 1 - Model of capability