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Case studies

Case study 1: Department of Transport and Regional Services: Commitment to the APS Values

Background

The senior leadership team in the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) has developed diverse approaches to communicate and integrate standards of behaviour consistent with the APS Values and Code of Conduct. The approaches are complemented by effective enforcement mechanisms. DOTARS takes particular pride in its people orientation and aims to develop a culture in which they can perform at their best, embracing the Values and the Code of Conduct. DOTARS' senior management demonstrates commitment to the required standards of behaviour.

Description

Senior leaders have implemented strategies, some led by the Secretary of the Department of Transport and Regional Services, to build commitment to the APS Values and DOTARS' values, encourage compliance with the Code of Conduct and foster an ethical culture.

Defining standards and expectations and fostering an ethical culture

With the aim of clarifying the standards of conduct expected of DOTARS' employees, and directing their attention to desired behaviours, the senior leadership team regularly seeks opportunities to discuss directly with employees the APS Values, DOTARS' values and ethics.

An example of this direct communication relates to Senior Executive Service (SES) staff. Newly promoted and newly engaged SES employees attend a presentation by the Secretary soon after either their promotion or engagement. The presentation includes a discussion about personal conduct and the Secretary's expectation that SES employees are required to model the highest ethical standards, the APS Values and departmental values. The Secretary also makes it clear that a good working knowledge of the Public Service Act 1999 is expected.

The Secretary gives employees a six-monthly oral report on departmental achievements and challenges, emphasising a values-driven ethical culture as a personal priority and a key standard by which the department will be judged.

As well as setting standards and defining expectations, the senior leadership team's purpose in initiating discussions about values and ethics is to help employees to feel comfortable with raising ethical issues and questions. The Secretary has made it clear in employee discussions that it is acceptable to talk about values and ethics and that successful organisations of the future will need to confront these issues.

SES employees also acknowledge the APS Values and DOTARS' values explicitly by means of a signature for each set of values in their Australian workplace agreements. Similarly, the DOTARS certified agreement commits the parties to providing a working environment that encourages behaviours in accord with the APS Values and departmental values.

Departmental commitment to the APS Values and DOTARS' values is also articulated in other corporate documents.

Equipping employees to deal with values and ethics in decision making

To equip employees with the skills to help them manage the ethical dimension of decision making, and to promote the APS Values and departmental values, DOTARS has introduced a three-day foundation leadership program-Leading in DOTARS

Taking a firm line with misconduct

The Secretary and senior leaders in DOTARS make it clear to employees that a firm line will be taken if the Values or Code of Conduct are breached. To help ensure that misconduct action does not fail because of procedural deficiencies, DOTARS has focused on making its Code of Conduct guidelines and procedures easy to read and understand. In particular they provide: a good explanation of the purpose of the Code of Conduct a simple and clear description of natural justice principles and how they apply in consideration of a conduct matter well explained processes that are open and transparent a clear explanation of responsibilities.

The Code of Conduct guidelines and procedures also emphasise confidentiality and privacy issues and the importance of keeping accurate records.

Assurance

To assess the effectiveness of its strategies, DOTARS conducts biannual staff surveys that give particular attention to the place of values within the department's working culture and governance environment.

For more information please contact:

MURRAY LEMBIT
PHONE 02 6274 6714

Case study 2: Department of Defence: A strategic approach to building and fostering leadership

Background

The Defence Renewal Program was initiated by the then Secretary of the Department of Defence in late 1999. It is aimed at transforming the way Defence goes about its business with a focus on the Results through People leadership philosophy.

The program's objectives are to build sustainable organisational capability and to facilitate strategic response to change in the Defence environment. The first stages of Defence Renewal have re-focused and strengthened the leadership culture at SES level and their equivalents (star rank military officers).

The three priority themes of Defence Renewal highlight a need for:

  • improved alignment with government's strategic direction
  • clearer accountability for results
  • a leadership culture that promotes trust and teamwork.

New ways of working in Defence, including shaping the new leadership culture, could not have been effectively achieved without taking account of the government's policy directions for Defence and integrating desired behaviours with the performance management framework.

This case study describes the development of the Defence Renewal Program and the approach taken to building the new leadership culture.

Description

Defence Renewal began with a series of workshops with Defence SES employees and military equivalents (the Senior Leadership Group) hosted by the Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force. The early workshops identified and explored the critical strategic management issues for Defence. At the time, there was widespread dissatisfaction with Defence's performance from stakeholders including ministers, central agencies within the public service, industry and, as the workshops demonstrated, from within Defence itself. The workshops and key stakeholder views demonstrated that a different management approach was needed urgently.

The Secretary believed that confidence needed to be restored and, apart from budget and financial priorities, the most significant organisational issue faced by Defence was leadership.

The second series of workshops in early 2000 discussed an approach to completing the new Defence White Paper, the first since 1994, and the supporting Defence Capability Plan. The plan is a detailed costed plan of the capability requirements of the Australian Defence Force over 10 years. It gives Defence a clear and specific direction of what is required to implement the government's White Paper.

The workshops also provided the foundation for discussion and debate about the nature of the relationship a Defence department should have with government, and how to deliver quality policy advice and service to ministers. The Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the Department of Defence are accountable to government for Defence's performance. The Minister for Defence, having civil control of the military, has overall responsibility for all matters covered by the Defence portfolio.

A third set of workshops in mid-2000 developed three alternative purpose statements for Defence, one of which-To defend Australia and its national interests-became Defence's new mission statement reflecting the outcome sought by government. At these workshops, the Results through People leadership philosophy was proposed as an important component of Defence Renewal.

At the same session, the Senior Leadership Group developed six values to guide behaviour and apply to SES employees and the military. These are: professionalism, loyalty, innovation, courage, integrity and teamwork. For civilian employees the Defence values complement the APS Values, but do not override them. It was critical to Defence Renewal that fundamental links needed to be made between government policy and the department's corporate strategy. Achieving results and making performance count became an important part of Defence's governance and accountability framework that included a new business model from 1 July 2000. The business model, and consequent restructuring, focused on two key dimensions of Defence's relationship with government:

  • government as the purchaser of outputs (largely Defence capabilities, but also including policy advice)
  • government as the owner of Defence. As such, it is interested in Defence's ability to sustain its delivery of its outputs and to achieve or better its budgeted operating results.

Internal customer-supplier (purchaser-provider) arrangements were also introduced and charters developed between the Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force and the head of each of Defence's Services and Groups to establish clear responsibilities and accountability, as well as organisational alignment.

The new structure also included a sharpening of the role of senior Defence committees to reflect their advisory role in accountability and decision making. The two senior committees, the Chiefs of Service Committee and the Defence Committee, are chaired by the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the Department of Defence respectively.

Work has been completed on the new enterprise risk management framework and a new performance-based Defence Matters Balanced Scorecard that integrates financial and non-financial performance reporting.

In mid-2000 the Senior Leadership Group developed Defence's People Leadership Model as the cornerstone of building a leadership culture and translating values into behaviours. The notion of People First was given formal effect through staff agreements with codified arrangements for a performance exchange process which APS employees undertake twice a year. The aim was to build a clear line of sight between an individual's contribution to their workgroup and the Defence outcomes and outputs. Individual performance targets could then be linked with the outcomes required by government.

The Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force also made clear that they would not tolerate leaders in Defence who achieved results at the expense of other people and quality working relationships. Moreover, technical competence alone would not ensure promotion.

A new approach to leadership development was initiated for SES Band 1 employees and their military equivalents. A leadership program (Capstone) was devised which was designed to have a strategic focus, being:

  • Defence Committee driven
  • reality-based
  • consciousness-raising
  • strategy-connected
  • values-based
  • leadership capability linked.

The Defence Committee's role in Capstone was essential, recognising the importance of the role of top managers in developing leaders. The program includes coaching and mentoring by a mentor approved by the Secretary of the Department of Defence or the Chief of the Defence Force.

Recently, workshops have progressed for more than 2000 staff who report directly to the Senior Leadership Group. Leadership programs have also been developed for executive level employees in Services and Groups within Defence. For example, the Quantum program in the Defence Materiel Organisation (see case study no. 34).

For more information please contact:

RANDY KNISPEL
PHONE 02 6265 7112

Case study 3: Attorney-General's Department: Induction program for new employees

Background

The induction program for new employees in the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) previously consisted of one morning session each quarter, which up to 40 new employees would attend, and the placing of information on the intranet. The Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, general managers and other key department staff gave short (20 to 30 minute) talks about their areas of responsibility. These were supplemented with relevant literature, which included information about the APS Values.

When a staff survey showed that almost 50% of employees had not attended an induction session it was decided to change the induction format to ensure that all new employees have the information they need. Based on direct feedback from staff and the staff survey data, the format of induction was changed to make it easier for new staff to obtain the relevant information quickly and easily, and therefore smooth their transition into the department.

Description

Induction for new employees begins with the offer of employment. With their offers of employment, prospective employees receive a copy of the APS Values, the Code of Conduct and information on relevant provisions of the Crimes Act. The offer clearly explains the applicability of the APS Values to employment with the AGD. By accepting the offer, candidates must acknowledge that they have read and understood the APS Values, the Code of Conduct and extracts of other legislation.

Once in the workplace, employees are encouraged to access an intranet-based new employee package, and are invited to a morning tea hosted by the Secretary, which is attended by senior managers and experienced staff from each group within the organisation.

The intranet package for new employees includes a section on the establishment and maintenance of high ethical standards and outlines the steps the AGD has taken to further reinforce the APS Values and their application to all employees. The package also includes information on AGD's people management guidance 'employees-relations advices' and other guidance to ensure that new staff are aware of their obligations. Supervisors are asked to ensure that new staff have sufficient time to enable them to work through the package in the first weeks of employment.

As well as including information about the APS Values as an integrated package, the AGD also reinforces specific APS Values. For example, in the intranet package there is information on the department's Service Charter and how it contributes to the delivery of services to clients fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously. The package also includes detailed information on proper records management, the importance of good record keeping, and information promoting programs about equity and workplace diversity. Links to the APS Commission's website are also provided, particularly the section regarding details of the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

Induction also involves a morning tea hosted by the Secretary with up to 20 new employees. This allows new employees to network, meet the Secretary and a member of the Executive, and talk with a range of experienced department staff. The morning tea helps introduce new employees into the culture of the organisation, and rewards departmental staff by inviting them to attend.

Including information about the APS Values when inducting new employees ensures that they know of the importance that the department attaches to them. The Values are presented as part of an integrated package so that new employees have an understanding of the total framework within which the APS works.

For more information please contact:

PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT ADVISER
PHONE 02 6250 6845

Case study 4: Centrelink: Expectations statement

Background

Raising awareness of the APS Values and Code of Conduct and the responsibilities that go with them is crucial for new employees. Employees need to recognise the breadth of their responsibilities under the APS Values and be made aware of sources of guidance and direction in their agencies.

Centrelink's Expectations Statement sets out clearly how its employees should interact with customers, client departments and each other. It is accompanied by a firm commitment from the CEO to support and respect each person who works in Centrelink.

Description

The Expectations Statement is incorporated into the Centrelink National Induction Program, a mandatory requirement for all new starters. The statement aims to help all employees meet the required standard of conduct and performance by informing them of:

  • the APS Values and Code of Conduct
  • Centrelink's requirements and expectations in relation to privacy and confidentiality and conflict of interest
  • their workplace responsibilities in relation to attendance at work, dress and appearance, harassment, official identification and duty of care
  • Centrelink's, team leaders' and employees' responsibilities
  • Centrelink's shared behaviours, which complement the APS Values and help the agency fulfil its purpose in a consistent and cohesive way. They convey Centrelink's aims and objectives and articulate its ideals and intentions.

The shared behaviours are:

  • Listening to customers and the community
  • Mutual respect for our customers and for each other
  • Exploring and putting in place innovative and cost-effective ways to provide the right outcome
  • Solving problems and developing opportunities
  • Behaving with integrity and in an ethical manner.

For more information please contact:

MARK LE DIEU
PHONE 02 6208 8851

Case study 5: Australian Bureau of Statistics: Video on APS Values

Background

The Australian Statistician regularly addresses his staff, particularly new recruits, on (among other things) the APS Values, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Corporate Plan and its central themes of ABS Principles and mutual obligations. In seeking a solution to the need to ensure that these important corporate messages reach all staff nationally at appropriate times, without being dependent on the Australian Statistician's availability, ABS Learning and Development Section developed a concept for a series of professionally produced topical videos which could be delivered directly to individual staff at their desktop.

The first video produced was of an interview with the Australian Public Service Commissioner, Andrew Podger, on the topic of the APS Values.

Description

The concept developed by ABS Learning and Development Section provided a solution to several identified needs, including:

  • demonstrating senior management support for and leadership in promoting the APS Values
  • setting ABS corporate messages and information into the broader context of our role and obligations as public servants
  • ensuring delivery of key corporate messages to staff in all offices in a consistent and timely manner
  • providing staff and the ABS with flexibility in accessing and delivering information.

The concept of using video as a medium for organisational communication also took advantage of the Bureau's sophisticated technological capability that allows video streaming to individual employees' desktops. Bureau staff can tune in to live broadcasts as well as either replay live or pre-recorded video presentations at a time that suits their availability.

Other videos in this series already produced include:

  • an interview with the Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin, on the topic of ABS Corporate Plan objectives, principles and mutual obligations
  • an interview with the Chief Executive of Comcare, Barry Leahy, on the topic of employer and employee obligations and responsibilities under occupational health and safety legislation
  • a discussion between the Australian Statistician and two graduate recruits on the topic of the ABS's approach to managing performance
  • presentation by the Australian Statistician and the Director, Learning and Development, welcoming the 2003 ABS graduate recruits.

These initiatives have been received favourably by ABS staff, and further opportunities will be taken up as and when appropriate to add to them.

For more information please contact:

JUDI CHILDS
PHONE 02 6252 5477

Case study 6: Department of Transport and Regional Services: Leading in DOTARS

Background

Between 1998 and 2000, the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) focused on a series of generic leadership programs for staff throughout the organisation. Leadership had appeared as an issue in previous staff surveys, but was again raised in the 2000 Departmental Staff Survey. To explore the issue more fully the department held a number of focus groups with staff at all levels. As a result, a decision was made to introduce a corporate citizenship program with a focus on ethics, values, leadership and emotional intelligence as part of a move toward a high-performance culture for all staff.

The program-Leading in DOTARS-is the foundation component of the DOTARS leadership agenda.

Description

The Secretary's vision for DOTARS is summarised as 'a high performing organisation and a great place to work'. To support this vision, the Leading in DOTARS Program focuses on good corporate citizenship. It includes a session on ethics, the APS Values and DOTARS' values, and provides awareness of the changing management and policy directions of the Department to encourage creativity and wider participation in corporate activities.

This program seeks to maximise the capacity of all staff to lead and focuses on behaviours the department seeks to foster to achieve its objectives. As such, it focuses on the behavioural change required by every staff member to play a stronger leadership role in the department's work environment.

All staff are encouraged to attend the program, which provides participants with the opportunity to develop and extend their leadership capabilities in, among other things:

  • influencing others
  • understanding the impact of ethics and values on decision making
  • managing changes that affect the work environment.

Key program objectives are to help staff to:

  • understand major policy priorities and recent management initiatives
  • be more confident in dealing with change
  • understand leadership in the context of ethical behaviour, the APS Values and DOTARS' values
  • extend networks and build relationships across DOTARS
  • understand how leadership can be demonstrated at all levels.

Leading in DOTARS opens with a half-day introductory session in the first week, an action learning project in the second and third weeks, and a three-day workshop at the end of the third week. The Secretary joins most courses for an informal evening discussion during the three-day workshop. Staff at a variety of levels and from different parts of the organisation are represented at each workshop.

The first Leading in DOTARS workshop was held in June 2001 and the forty-sixth, and final, workshop was held in June 2003. By the end of December 2002, 867 staff (from a total of 950) had participated in a workshop. The department is now looking at an independent evaluation of the program and at the design of its next stage.

For mor
e information please contact:

HAZEL BERG
PHONE 02 6274 7562

Case study 7: Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia: Performance management arrangements and the generic capabilities

Background

The Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia's (ITSA's) performance management system, the Performance Feedback Scheme (PFS), was established in 1998 and implemented through the first ITSA Certified Agreement.

ITSA had previously identified that the introduction of performance management arrangements could help address two issues highlighted in a 1997 employee survey:

  • providing regular feedback
  • providing a clear definition of employees' roles.

The PFS was developed in consultation with employees. Since its inception it has been regularly reviewed, with each review resulting in enhancements designed to support its ongoing success.

Description

The main objectives of the PFS are to provide a clear definition of an employee's role within ITSA and regular feedback against the expectations of the role.

The PFS has a strong developmental focus. There is no performance pay attached to performance ratings, although the rating does form the basis for decisions on salary progression within a classification.

The PFS is designed around ITSA's five generic capabilities: think strategically, achieve results, develop productive working relationships, demonstrate personal drive and integrity, and communicate effectively. They are based on the APS Senior Executive Leadership Capability Framework, and provide indicators that describe the behaviour that would be expected at each classification level.

Indicators for the APS Values and Code of Conduct are included within one of the capabilities at each level. Use of the generic capabilities in performance management ensures that expectations regarding professional behaviour and conduct are clearly and consistently articulated throughout ITSA.

Some features of the PFS are:

  • Simple documentation-ITSA recognises that the most important part of the performance management process is the discussion between the employer and employee. Therefore, documentation is simple and the participants can choose how much detail is formally recorded. Documentation can be completed either electronically or in hard copy.
  • Links to organisational outcomes-The use of ITSA's business plan is an important component of the PFS, particularly for staff in ITSA's operational areas. Employees are encouraged to identify the key accountabilities of their role based on information in the business plan and other corporate documents. The business plan provides information on operational performance standards and measures and how they link to ITSA's outputs and outcomes.
  • Development focus-The PFS processes encourage employees to identify development needs related to both their current position and longer-term career goals. Individual development needs identified in the PFS are collated at a branch and national level to determine the trends in employee development requirements and to help identify training priorities. This information is also linked to other human resource processes such as workforce planning and succession planning.
  • Use of a reviewing officer-Each step of the process involving formal documentation is endorsed by a reviewing officer, generally a senior manager. Their role is to review the documentation and ensure that there is consistency between similar positions within the work area and that the objectives of the PFS are being addressed. There is no centralised recording of performance plans or reviews.
  • Reporting of ratings-In order to monitor and evaluate the operation of the PFS and as part of the overall accountability of the scheme, aggregate information on PFS ratings is reported nationally. Ratings information is provided against a number of criteria such as branch, business line, classification group and gender. However, individual ratings are not identified. The purpose of reporting is to identify and address any inconsistencies.

As well as meeting relevant legislative and policy requirements, ITSA's approach to performance management demonstrates most of the key elements of good practice in design, implementation and review of effective systems. These are summarised as alignment, credibility and integration in the Management Advisory Committee report Performance Management in the APS: A Strategic Framework.

Some key aspects of good practice are:

  • recognition of diversity within the workplace and adherence of the principles of equity and fairness in planning and review
  • establishment of a clear line of sight between corporate planning and goals and individual work expectations
  • assessment of both how work is done and what is achieved through five generic capabilities
  • recognition of the joint responsibility between manager and employee for performance feedback and development
  • a framework which rewards achievement and has effective procedures in place to deal with poor performance.

ITSA will continue to review the PFS regularly.

Key APS Values

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a workplace that is free from discrimination and recognises and ultilises the diversity of the Australian community it serves. (s. 10(1)(c) of the PS Act)

The APS promotes equity in employment. (s. 10(1)(l) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

SANDRA HAYHOE
PHONE 02 8233 7897

Case study 8: Attorney-General's Department: Chief Executive Instructions

Background

Chief executive instructions (CEIs) are provided for under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act). As such the CEIs and associated procedural rules carry the force of law and must be complied with by employees.

In January 2002, the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, as its chief executive for the purposes of the FMA Act, authorised a fully revised set of CEIs.

The following month the department established a consultative committee comprising the business managers from its operational areas to review proposed changes to the new CEIs and to initiate proposals.

In revising the CEIs the aim was to move away from a technical specialist manual to a user-friendly, relevant, current, and practical one. The objective was to have instructions with a more human face so that employees could confidently access and understand all the information in the CEIs that they needed for their jobs. The hope was that all employees would be encouraged to use the manual, rather than the specialists in corporate services who would then interpret the instructions for common use.

Description

The CEIs contain a comprehensive introduction with definitions for terms such as delegation to help employees understand how CEIs fit within the FMA Act legislative framework. The introduction also tells staff where they can locate important related material, such as delegations. The CEIs are available on the intranet and there are electronic links within the CEIs to facilitate access to other reference material.

The structure of the CEIs is straightforward:

  • chapter headings are clear and information is easy to find and logically structured
  • there are page and paragraph number references so that the user can note where particular points are made
  • headings within the CEIs are topic related
  • it is clear where designated employees are responsible for the overall management of particular financial management matters.

Procedural rules have been used, where necessary, to set out relevant supporting material. The CEIs and procedural rules generally explain technical terms so that users can understand what needs to be done. For example, drawing rights and the difference between a write off and a waiver are defined.

The CEIs are kept up to date by the consultative committee which meets regularly. Since the overhaul in early 2002, the CEIs have been amended on a number of occasions to take account of recent developments in government requirements. All amendments are tested on the consultative committee and are made to the original document, thus providing a clear audit trail.

The CEIs cover all the key matters that are required under the FMA Act but offer clearly stated principles as guidance in many cases rather than seeking to impose controls. They also contain a number of additional matters that flow from the legislation that can support good financial administration. For example, there is guidance on procedures for reporting fraud. Additionally, templates make clear that suppliers are required to declare conflicts of interest. There is also guidance on the importance of establishing whether an engagement, particularly of an individual, is under a contract for service or contract of service, and using the correct form of contract.

For more information please contact:

DIRECTOR FINANCIAL POLICY AND CONTRACTS
PHONE 02 6250 5530

Case study 9: Attorney-General's Department: Policy for managing breaches of the Code of Conduct

Background

The Attorney-General's Department has developed an employee relations advice, Management of AGD Employee Conduct and Whistleblower Reports, to support certain requirements of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act).

The PS Act requires that agency procedures for determining whether an APS employee has breached the Code of Conduct:

  • must comply with the basic procedural requirements contained in the Public Service Commissioner's Directions 1999
  • must have due regard to procedural fairness
  • may be different for different categories of APS employees.

The PS Act also requires Agency Heads to take reasonable steps to ensure that every employee in their agency has ready access to the documents that set out these procedures.

The Public Service Commissioner's Directions 1999 set out the basic procedural requirements with which an agency must comply in its procedures for determining whether an APS employee has breached the Code of Conduct. In addition, Public Service Regulation 2.4(1) requires Agency Heads to establish procedures for dealing with a report made by an APS employee under the 'whistleblower' provisions of the Act. Regulation 2.4(2) describes matters that an agency's procedures must contain.

The employee relations advice sets out the department's policy on managing suspected misconduct and handling whistleblower reports. It supports procedures for determining suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct made under the PS Act.

Description

The department's employee relations advice on managing suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct aims to be user-friendly, especially for managers and decision makers. It also aims to give employees a comprehensive understanding of how the process will be conducted. The procedures contain a clear statement of policy objectives and operating principles, a glossary to assist understanding and a flow chart outlining the stages involved in handling suspected breaches. The advice also:

  • states the general principles for handling suspected Code of Conduct breaches-these include the principles of procedural fairness and equity and other principles which are consistent with the APS Values
  • sets out clearly the responsibilities and accountabilities of all employees, and managers, and decision makers in particular
  • gives guidance on issues to be considered in deciding whether to instigate a formal investigation into a suspected breach of the Code of Conduct or take some other less formal action
  • describes the circumstances in which an employee suspected of having breached the Code of Conduct may be suspended or be subject to temporary assignment of other duties
  • includes arrangements for periodic review of suspension with or without remuneration, pending determination of the case
  • sets out arrangements for setting sanctions and the date of effect
  • contains indicative time frames for case management makes clear responsibilities for record keeping
  • provides information on rights of review.

The department has linked its advice on managing suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct to advice on managing whistleblower reports. The advice includes a copy of the APS Code of Conduct, the procedures made by the Secretary for determining suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct, and a schedule of related legislation and guideline documents.

For more information please contact:

ROSS BUTLER
PHONE 02 6250 6114

Case study 10: Australian Bureau of Statistics: Management of suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct

Background

Agency Heads are required to establish procedures for determining whether an APS employee within their agency has breached the Code of Conduct (section 15(3) of the Public Service Act 1999). Under this provision, the procedures:

  • must comply with basic procedural requirements set out in the Public Service Commissioner's Directions 1999;
  • must have regard to procedural fairness
  • may be different for different categories of APS employees.

An Agency Head must take reasonable steps to ensure that every employee within the agency has ready access to the documents that set out these procedures.

In order to meet these requirements, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has developed written guidelines and processes to determine whether an ABS employee has breached the Code of Conduct.

Description

The ABS guidelines Managing Breaches of the Code of Conduct (Misconduct) are contained in the ABS Manual of Personnel Management, available electronically from employees' desktops. The guidelines, while being strongly principles-based, clearly set out the ABS processes for managing potential breaches of the Code of Conduct. The guidelines encompass the important considerations identified in the APS Commission publication, Managing Breaches of the APS Code of Conduct.

In recognition of the importance and value of its people, the ABS has established a dedicated unit to deal with people issues. Located in Central Office, the People Management Advisory Unit (PMAU) forms part of the Corporate Services Division. The PMAU provides advice, support and training for line managers and staff not only for managing breaches of the Code of Conduct, but also for managing performance, resolving workplace issues, review of actions and applications to external bodies such as the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. In ABS regional offices, these functions are usually managed by the local Employee Relations Unit (ERU), with specialist support and advice provided by the PMAU.

All ABS staff, through induction and orientation programs, are told of their responsibilities to familiarise themselves with and abide by the specific policies and guidelines. If staff need advice on applying the guidelines, they are encouraged to request further assistance from their line manager, the PMAU or their local ERU. In addition to the guidelines and training programs, a video on the APS Values, available from employees' desktops, is used to help raise awareness of the Values.

Through ABS manager/leadership programs, line managers are informed of their responsibilities to maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity and propriety and to ensure that their employees are familiar with, and meet, the required standards of individual performance and conduct. When standards are breached, prompt action is taken to remedy the situation.

The PMAU is responsible for ensuring that the procedures established to determine whether a breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred are followed. The EL2 and EL1 positions within the PMAU (and the EL2 Corporate Services positions in regional offices) coordinate and case manage all instances of alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct of a serious nature. They also get involved in cases where early intervention such as counselling, usually undertaken by a line manager, has been unsuccessful. In these cases, the occupants of these positions (known as misconduct case managers) may themselves either investigate a potential breach or select a suitable investigator. The misconduct case manager, or investigator, is responsible for reaching a decision on whether, on the balance of probabilities, there has been a breach.

As a means of ensuring consistency of approach in managing suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct, the ABS limits the number of people involved in the determinative process, including the application of sanctions. If a breach is determined, a written report is forwarded to the delegate-normally the senior executive in the Corporate Services Division, a regional director or the Australian Statistician-for decision as to an appropriate sanction.

The misconduct case manager is required to ensure that procedural fairness applies to all parties involved in the investigation, that is:

  • there is a right to fair and impartial consideration by an unbiased person
  • the parties have the right to know of, and comment on, any information that is damaging to their case or interest.

The ABS processes encourage any investigation to be undertaken with as little formality and as much expedition as a proper consideration of the matter allows. The processes also permit, where warranted, the use of an external provider to investigate a potential breach.

For more information please contact:

JENNY O'CONNOR
PHONE 02 6252 7270

Case study 11:
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Raising awareness of review mechanisms

Background

In its first certified agreement (1998-2000) the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) established internal procedures for resolving workplace issues. They were developed as an avenue to resolve grievances and to complement the formal review mechanisms provided for under the Public Service Act and Regulations.

The philosophy underlying the development of the internal review process reflects the ABS's belief that workplace issues dealt with as quickly, informally and as close to the workplace as possible, have the best chance of being satisfactorily resolved. This is consistent with the general policy on review contained in the Public Service Regulations.

To this end, aggrieved ABS employees are encouraged to follow the internal Resolving Workplace Issues processes, but their right of review through the formal mechanisms provided under the (now) Public Service Act 1999 is available to them at any time.

The procedures provide a framework to help employees decide how best to deal with a concern or complaint they may have in relation to their employment.

Description

The ABS Corporate Plan puts high value on behaviour and processes that encourage, among other things, fair and thorough decision making, explaining the reasons behind decisions, fostering communication and providing support to staff in times of transition or difficulty. The provision of information to, and support of, employees in the event that they have an issue that needs to be resolved reflect this philosophy.

The aim of the Resolving Workplace Issues procedures is to produce outcomes that are fair, equitable, and accord with sound people management practices, while at the same time having regard to the ABS's efficiency and the maintenance of good employer/employee relations.

The ABS's awareness-raising strategies for review mechanisms in the ABS have the following objectives:

  • achieving a common understanding of the process and what is involved
  • utilising the IT environment to enable staff to obtain information about relevant processes from their desktops when they need it
  • encouraging managers to provide reasons for decisions which affect employees
  • encouraging open and honest communication between staff and management.

These objectives are achieved in a number of ways, including:

  • the development of the Resolving Workplace Issues procedures which, while being strongly principles-based, clearly set out the process for dealing with issues affecting employees in the workplace
  • the availability of the procedures on the ABS intranet, which enables staff to access required information as and when they need it from their desktops
  • employees being introduced to the concept through induction and manager development programs
  • independent and impartial advice and guidance provided to the parties to a dispute by staff of the People Management Advisory Unit, a group dedicated to dealing with people issues in the ABS
  • work practices which prompt managers to supply reasons for decisions affecting individual employees
  • specific information provided to employees at appropriate times about available review mechanisms open to them-for example, written advice to an employee about the outcome of an investigation into a possible breach of the Code of Conduct will include specific mention of avenues of review for which they are eligible.

For more information please contact:

JENNY O'CONNOR
PHONE 02 6252 7270

Case study 12: Department of Defence: Quality assurance

Background

The Department of Defence is committed to a Results through People philosophy. The vision of the Defence Personnel Executive (DPE) is for a personnel system that unlocks the full potential of Defence people. In order to monitor and quantify the department's performance against goals such as these, Defence, through the Directorate of Strategic Personnel Planning and Research (DSPPR), has developed a range of personnel surveys and research tools.

As well as providing valuable information to develop internal processes, services and support to enable people to perform at their best, the surveys are used to identify emerging problems in the workplace, including adherence to the APS Values. Where concerns are identified through the data collected, follow-up action is taken as appropriate to address the issue. The surveys are a critical part of developing personnel policies, measuring their impact, and adjusting to the internal and external factors that impact on the working environment of Defence personnel.

Description

DSPPR is responsible for an ongoing survey program consisting of a number of survey instruments designed to measure Defence's performance against its personnel goals. The main survey in the ongoing program is the Defence attitude survey (DAS), which is administered annually to a 30% sample of Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Australian Public Service (APS) personnel. The purpose of the DAS is to collect important information about the feelings and opinions of Defence personnel towards leadership, working in Defence, conditions and communication.

The Your Say survey is a tool derived from the DAS to monitor more regularly the core themes from the DAS and also provides the opportunity to gather information on topical issues. The survey covers a 10% sample of ADF and Defence APS personnel twice yearly. Topical issues covered by this survey to date include a prioritisation of personnel initiatives, investigation of Defence as an employer of choice, and views on Defence's senior leadership.

Results from the DAS and the Your Say survey are broken down by Group and Branch to provide feedback to policy and decision makers at various levels of the Defence organisation. Continuous feedback is also provided to staff members department-wide via the publication of results in a multi-page brochure distributed as inserts in the Navy, Army and Air Force newspapers. Results from the most recent iteration of the DAS in November 2002 were distributed to an estimated 72,000 personnel using this communication strategy.

In a bid to monitor and quantify the personnel profile of Defence, a Defence census is conducted every four years. The most recent census was conducted on 18 March 2003. Information obtained will be used to quantify the takeup of services provided to Defence members and to identify gaps in service delivery and scope for improvement. Defence APS personnel were included in the Defence census for the first time in 2003.

Defence not only measures lead indicators of performance (e.g. the DAS and Your Say surveys) but also lag indicators through the ADF exit survey. This survey aims to identify separating members' reasons for leaving the ADF in order to identify important retention issues. The survey also acts as a check against how well Defence is meeting some of its personnel goals. An exit survey for Defence APS employees will be trialled in 2003.

DSPPR also conducts other personnel surveys on an ad-hoc basis, which helps measure the department's personnel goals. Examples include the ADF Reserves survey, the survey of unacceptable behaviour in Defence, and the entrant opinion survey.

Defence not only uses these surveys to monitor and measure the department's personnel goals, but also to identify areas of concern which need addressing. For example, data collected in the 2001 DAS indicated that a significant proportion of civilian employees do not consider that employment decisions in Defence are based on merit. Defence has taken firm action in responding with an independent evaluation of the application of merit in Defence to determine the extent and basis of the problem with a view to remedial action. The recommendations arising from the evaluation are being considered.

Other examples of how data collected by DSPPR has been used to identify and address personnel issues include: a review of remote locality leave travel entitlements, an investigation of options to roll over leave, and an investigation of accommodation and housing arrangements for ADF members. In adjusting to the changing internal and external environment the survey information has also been used to support a leadership walk-around program, where leaders used key trends from the DAS to address staff and respond to questions.

For more information please contact:

JUSTINE GRIEG
PHONE 02 6266 3242

Case study 13: Department of Transport and Regional Services: Serving Ministers

Background

Central to the relationship between the APS, the government and the parliament are Values on the apolitical, professional nature of the APS and its impartiality, its open accountability within the framework of ministerial responsibility, and its responsiveness to the elected government.

To ensure that the service provided to its ministers and the government reflects these Values, the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) introduced a package of measures that helps employees understand and apply them.

Description

The relationships between agencies and their ministers are central to the effective operation of government. DOTARS' approach to working with ministers and providing an effective service includes:

(i) Making available to all staff General Principles for the Preparation of High Quality Advice to Ministers. This guidance supplements departmental standards and performance measures outlined in the relevant portfolio budget statements with advice about:

  • content, including
    • the importance of well-supported options
    • objective presentation of those options not favoured by the department when canvassing alternative policy options within a submission
    • the requirement to address briefs and other advice to the relevant minister rather than to ministerial advisers
    • clearance standards-it is clear that responsibility rests with SES employees
  • presentation, including
    • the importance of applying appropriate security markings, where to find further information about classifying documents, and the handling of Cabinet-in-Confidence documents
    • use of plain English and consistency with Style Manual requirements
  • internal and external consultation
  • records management
  • timeliness.

(ii) Integrating departmental requirements for serving ministers into relevant learning and development programs. For example:

  • DOTARS' Graduate Development Program ensures that graduates understand the apolitical nature of the APS. The program is designed around the APS Values and also provides an opportunity for graduates to meet ministers
  • the Leading in DOTARS Program focuses on good corporate citizenship and includes a session on ethics and the APS Values with a case study on serving ministers. It also provides awareness of the changing management and policy directions of the department with the Secretary joining most courses for an informal discussion of these issues
  • governance, accountability and legal awareness are identified as core skills within the Secretary's Statement of Future Skills Requirements, as are policy development and program delivery
  • the departmental policy development program includes a segment on relationships with ministers and discusses in some detail the proper way to conduct business and advise government.

(iii) Frequent executive discussion of good process on interaction with ministers' offices:

  • the department's Executive Board, which meets fortnightly, addresses the APS Values in practical terms and in relation to particular situations.

(iv) Discussing with employees the requirements for serving ministers as issues arise.

(v) Making available to ministers and employees the Legislation Directory, which is regularly updated.

The Legislation Directory:

  • provides an overview of each of the 112 pieces of portfolio legislation
  • summarises each Act's intended purpose and the ministers' roles and responsibilities
  • provides details of any reporting requirements
  • identifies a designated departmental division and contact person so that accountability arrangements within the department are clear.

Additionally, the department's Ministerial Liaison Unit provides a quality assurance and coordination role for written material to and from the ministers' offices. Feedback from ministers is primarily through annotation on the brief itself, supplemented by a formal rating system completed by ministerial advisers.

There are regular meetings with DOTARS' ministers during sitting periods to discuss policy issues and the working relationship between the department and ministers' offices. There are also regular meetings with departmental liaison officers to identify opportunities to improve the department's service to the ministers.

Key APS Values

The APS is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner. (s. 10(1)(a) of the PS Act)

The APS is responsive to the Government in providing frank, honest, comprehensive, accurate and timely advice and in implementing the Government's policies and programs. (s. 10(1)(f) of the PS Act)

The APS is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(e) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

JULIA DIMITRIADIS
PHONE 02 6274 7528

Case study 14:
Centrelink: Moot Senate Estimates

Background

Centrelink has one government-directed outcome-the effective delivery of Commonwealth services to eligible customers.

Centrelink supports this outcome in a number of ways including:

  • delivering effective solutions for the Australians Working Together initiatives, building towards capabilities to deliver enhanced service offers
  • delivering the Australian Government's Charter of Public Service in a Culturally Diverse Society
  • providing an integrated cost-effective delivery of major Australian Government programs and services to all Australians
  • providing feedback on whole-of-government policy
  • responding quickly to urgent situations, such as natural disasters and major industry changes.

In delivering these and other outputs Centrelink is accountable directly and through its client agencies to the government, the parliament and the Australian public. It also clearly has a range of responsibilities in implementing the government's policies and programs.

Description

Centrelink uses a simulation activity, Moot Senate Estimates, to ensure its SES and EL2 managers understand their role in relation to parliamentary accountability. The activity provides practical experience to the participants on parliamentary activities and requirements. The exercise involves:

  • establishing a hearing room just like those in Parliament House
  • allocating the roles of senators, the minister, the CEO, etc. to the SES and managers
  • conducting the simulation hearing.

Participants rely on Hansard reports and Senate Estimates briefs prepared for the executive to make the exercise as realistic as possible. During the exercise, the CEO is present and coaches participants in their respective roles.

The simulation exercise helps staff understand the accountability framework in which they operate, including the requirement to account for the effective, efficient and ethical use of resources.

Key APS Values

The APS is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(e) of the PS Act)

The APS is responsive to the Government in providing frank, honest, comprehensive, accurate and timely advice and in implementing the Government's policies and programs. (s. 10(1)(f) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

VICKI BEARD
PHONE 02 6212 0215

Case study 15: Australian Bureau of Statistics: Independent statistical services

Background

The Australian Bureau of Statistics's (ABS's) mission is to help and encourage informed decision making, research and discussion within governments and the community, by providing a high-quality, objective and responsive national statistical service.

The ABS has earned an excellent reputation, both at home and abroad, for providing a statistical service of quality and integrity. The ABS's commitment to an independent statistical service is fundamental to ensuring its integrity- a core ABS principle.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 (ABS Act) is a key element in establishing the independence of the ABS and the Australian Statistician. The ABS Act established the ABS as a statutory authority and vests in the Australian Statistician control of its operations.

The ABS Act requires that the Australian Statistician be appointed by the Governor-General for a fixed period (usually seven years). Furthermore, the Australian Statistician can be removed from office only by the Governor-General on the advice of both houses of the parliament and only on the grounds of either misbehaviour or incapacity.

Description

The ABS's commitment to providing and maintaining a statistical service of quality and integrity is demonstrated in a number of ways.

The ABS statistical system is open. The ABS sets and publicises, in advance, the dates for the release of all its statistics. The ABS decides what to publish, and then does so in ways which explain and inform, without advocating a particular position. In issuing statistics, the ABS adheres to long-established principles that results of statistical collections should be made available as soon as practicable and should be available to all users at the same time. Pre-embargo access to statistics is limited to relevant ministers and their departments under publicly known and strictly controlled arrangements. The ABS ensures equal opportunity of access to statistics by the community, business and governments through releasing statistical results on the ABS website, through public libraries and in the media.

The integrity of ABS statistics is built on its professional and ethical standards. The ABS contributes to the development of international standards, and uses them to produce conceptual frameworks and standards for Australian statistics. The ABS also works with other national and international agencies to ensure that relevant statistical standards and concepts are applied as widely as possible so that statistical outputs from all agencies are consistent and of good quality.

ABS methodologies, frameworks, quality assurance processes and measures are transparent. They are based on sound statistical and methodological practices and principles and are widely disseminated through publications, information papers, conference papers and journals. Proposed changes to methodology are discussed with clients and significant changes are made known well in advance of implementation. The ABS is also open about the quality of its statistics, so that users can better understand and interpret them.

The ABS maintains close contact with its users through a variety of mechanisms, including advisory committees, user groups, outposted statistical officers, conferences and seminars, and day-to-day contact in the course of disseminating statistical information. This contact informs the development of the ABS's work program. The threeyear forward work program is developed after extensive consultation with relevant user groups and is finalised in the light of advice from the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC), which was established under the ABS Act.

The forward work program describes for each ABS program the resources, outputs, clients and uses of the statistical information and the proposed main developments over the three-year period. The forward work program is freely available and is published on the ABS website.

The ABS Act requires the Australian Statistician to report to parliament annually on the operations of the ABS.

It also requires ASAC to submit to the minister for presentation to parliament a report on matters connected with the operation of the ABS Act.

Key APS Values

The APS is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner. (s. 10(1)(a) of the PS Act)

The APS is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(e) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

PAUL SULLIVAN
PHONE 02 6252 7809

Case study 16: Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia: Personal insolvency national standards and best practice statements

Background

The Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA) is an executive agency within the Attorney-General's portfolio with responsibility for administering and regulating the personal insolvency system. One of ITSA's responsibilities is to administer bankrupt estates on behalf of the Official Trustee. Another is to regulate private bankruptcy trustees and the Official Trustee. These two responsibilities are managed and fulfilled independently of each other.

In 1998 ITSA and the professional body representing private bankruptcy trustees, the Insolvency Practitioners Association of Australia (IPAA) jointly developed national standards, which are known as the personal insolvency national standards (PINS). They are reviewed periodically (being reviewed in 2003).

ITSA has also developed best practice statements (BPS), which provide guidance to ITSA staff on common activities relating to the administration of bankruptcy. They were introduced as previous manuals had proved to be unwieldy and not easily updated.

PINS are a good illustration of an agency working in partnership with industry to develop national standards of administration which embrace ethical decision making and accountability applying beyond the public service. The development of internal BPS supports the arrangements.

Description

Personal insolvency national standards

The PINS apply to both private sector trustees and ITSA. They aim to:

  • ensure that personal insolvency administrations are maintained at a consistently high level by the Official Trustee and registered trustees
  • ensure that a level playing field applies to the regulation of all trustees, both the Official Trustee and registered trustees, by applying agreed national standards
  • increase the confidence of clients and stakeholders as to the level of consistency in the application of bankruptcy law and practice
  • encourage the identification and application of best practice in estate administration to the work conducted by all trustees.

There are thirteen individual 'standards' and each contains the following common elements: timeliness, decision making, documentation and ethical practices and conduct.

The PINS provide the minimum standard for good bankruptcy administration practice. They are applied by ITSA's Bankruptcy Regulation investigators when assessing performance of bankruptcy trustees and give private bankruptcy trustees an understanding of the expectations under ITSA's bankruptcy regulation annual inspection program when a sample of each private trustees' administrations are inspected.

Private trustees who either continually fail to comply with the accepted standards, or whose failure to comply has a serious impact on an administration, can expect to be called to explain before a disciplinary committee established under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (the Act) by the Inspector-General in Bankruptcy to determine whether their registration should be cancelled or conditions imposed upon their entitlement to practise.

The fact that the PINS are not embodied in the Act or Regulations does not detract from their importance as the accepted industry standard.

Best practice statements

BPS have been developed by ITSA as guides to promote greater clarity and consistency in the process of administering bankruptcies. They have not been designed as prescriptive processes but provide a framework for better decision making, including among other things, helping to ensure that reasons for decisions are given and recorded properly.

The BPS range across practice issues such as investigating the circumstances of the bankruptcy and potentially available assets, assessing income and contributions payable by the bankrupt, dealing with and realising assets, the impact of the GST on bankruptcies and payment of fees and charges from the estate.

The BPS are used by managers in the supervision of case officers. The BPS are not overly prescriptive and are directed largely at the process aspects of bankruptcy administration, thus providing flexibility for case officers to decide on the most efficient and cost effective approach to a particular situation.

The BPS assist ITSA employees to deliver services fairly, effectively and ethically to their clients.

Key APS Values

The APS is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(e) of the PS Act)

The APS delivers services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public and is sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(g) of the PS Act)

The APS is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner. (s. 10(1)(a) of the PS Act)

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

The APS has the highest ethical standards. (s. 10(1)(d) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

PETER LOWE
PHONE 02 6270 3404

Case study 17: Centrelink: Service delivery

Background

Centrelink was created to provide exceptional service to the community by linking Australian Government services and achieving best practice in service delivery. It was established in the expectation it would provide a more human face for government and a more efficient service for the citizens of Australia.

Centrelink is a large and complex organisation. About one-third of the Australian population are Centrelink customers. Nearly one-third of this group receives multiple benefits. In its future directions, Centrelink outlines five strategies to improve customer satisfaction. These are:

  • support participation
  • improve the consistency of the customer service
  • provide appropriate service offers for customer's life events
  • value our relationship with customers through more effective management of contacts
  • improve access for customers.

Description

The approach to service delivery in Centrelink encompasses diverse measures and activities, some of which are highly innovative while others build on tried and tested practices. The package, taken together, adds up to high performance in service delivery while ensuring accountability to stakeholders.

Key strategies and their features are detailed as follows:

Listening to customers

There are a number of ways Centrelink listens to customers. They include:

  • Holding Value Creation workshops that provide a structured forum where Centrelink staff can hear the values and concerns of their customers, and sometimes customer representatives, expressed in their own words.
  • Using market research companies to conduct regular customer surveys to find out how satisfied they are with the service Centrelink provides, especially from customer service centres and over the phone. Views of around 110,000 customers are sought on a regular basis throughout the year. Information about the research, including customer rights, is available to the public through information fact sheets.
  • Establishing customer reference groups to improve the understanding of customer needs. These include the Older People's Reference Group, Australians Working Together Implementation Reference Group, the Disability Customer Reference Group, and the National Multicultural Reference Group and multicultural advisory committees.
  • Using customer comment cards. These are on the desks of all staff serving customers and provide an immediate and simple method of seeking and receiving customer feedback. The feedback is a managed process through to the manager following up with the client.

Focusing on the customer

Centrelink has created a customer service portfolio to ensure that the voice of the customer is given prominence in the organisation's day-to-day and longer-term planning activity. The portfolio's key responsibility is to ensure that the customer is at the centre of Centrelink's business; a key vehicle for achieving this focus will be Centrelink's first customer experience strategy.

Centrelink believes that, by focusing on improvement to the experiences customers have in their dealings with the organisation, it is possible to improve customer perceptions and confidence in the service delivery arm of government and the extent to which government's policy agenda is achieved without increasing the costs of delivering services.

The customer service portfolio is led by a deputy chief executive officer and comprises six teams-Current Customer Service, Customer Service Experience Management, Service Recovery, Multicultural Services, Indigenous Services and Business Liaison and Community Sector Relationships.

As is increasingly the case in private sector organisations the chief customer officer works with customers to develop future servicing arrangements that are more responsive to their needs, expectations and preferences.

Other initiatives include:

  • widespread use of the word 'customer' in corporate designations-for example, customer service officer instead of counter assessor, customer service centres instead of regional offices, customer segment teams instead of policy or program branches
  • all staff wearing a name badge to establish a more personalised approach and to assist with accountability
  • identifying customer service as a key feature in Centrelink's recruitment and selection processes and performance assessment scheme.

Making services more accessible

Centrelink has established access points and rural agents in line with the National Rural and Regional Servicing Strategy. Access points are self-help facilities that provide customers with access to a dedicated phone, fax and photocopier, relevant brochures and forms to help them complete their business with Centrelink and services related to Centrelink.

Rural agents provide the same facilities as access points, but also have an Internet-enabled computer and printer to provide help to customers.

The organisation also continues to provide a range of services through the Centrelink website.

Being accountable to customers

The Centrelink Customer Charter is a feature in the public contact area of every customer service centre, with a charter poster on the wall, charter pamphlets on the rack and a charter placemat on the desk at every contact point. In regular surveys, customers are asked to rate performance against charter commitments. The charter is also reproduced in all core products within Centrelink's 'Life Events' model of service delivery and is reviewed annually. (A 'Life Event' is a significant change or changes that affect an individual, and/or their family, and/or their community, which causes people to approach Centrelink for help.)

The organisation also has a range of business partnership agreements. These are agreements with each agency for which Centrelink delivers services. Agreements contain a range of commitments and accountability measures including specifying key performance indicators, performance measures and standards against which it will deliver services. The CEO also signs off annual assurance statements for Centrelink's clients.

Questioning decisions, answering queries

Centrelink has well established merit-based, internal review procedures whereby customers can have a decision reconsidered by either the original decision maker, or more formally reviewed by an authorised review officer, a person with no prior involvement in the case.

For matters relating to provision of service or simple queries Centrelink has established a network of customer relations units (CRUs) around Australia and a freecall 1800 telephone number. The service is based on established complaints-handling procedures and is designed to resolve customer concerns quickly.

Sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public

Centrelink recruits with the objective of achieving an employee profile that reflects the community profile. Among strategies to meet this objective are the inclusion of workplace diversity principles in contract arrangements with outsourced providers of recruitment services and the inclusion of targets for specific diversity groups.

The organisation's Multicultural Service Strategy 2002-04 is used to develop ways to meet the ongoing and future needs of customers from diverse and linguistic backgrounds. There are multicultural service officers who are primarily responsible for forging links between Centrelink and migrant and refugee communities.

Key initiatives for Indigenous customers include:

  • The statement of Centrelink's Commitment to Reconciliation, which was launched in December 2000 commits Centrelink to working in practical ways with Indigenous people to provide high-quality services, to increasing Centrelink's capacity to employ Indigenous people and to improving the opportunities for career development and support for Indigenous staff.
  • The Indigenous Servicing Strategy 2001-04 complements the statement of commitment to reconciliation and identifies six goals and strategies. These include the set-up and enhancement of specialised Indigenous call centres; provision of culturally appropriate service to Indigenous customers; and the publication of Footsteps magazine for Indigenous peoples and communities. Among regular stories in Footsteps are profiles of Indigenous people and their achievements and a profile of a Centrelink staff member to see what working in Centrelink means to them.
  • The Indigenous Employees' Action Plan implements actions to support Centrelink's commitment under its reconciliation statement and Workplace Diversity Program.
  • A national package of culturally specific training is in development.

The organisation provides free interpreting and translation services, including the translation of customer documents, to ensure that customers can talk to Centrelink in their own languages. Brochures are also provided in languages other than English.

Centrelink has a number of strategies to make itself visible in the community. There are fortnightly national broadcasts on SBS radio and on community radio stations in a range of languages. There are also weekly articles in the ethnic press.

Key APS Values

The APS delivers services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public and is sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(g) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a reasonable opportunity to all eligible members of the community to apply for APS employment. (s. 10(1)(m) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

SHEILA ROSS
PHONE 03 9963 4499

Case study 18: Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia: Consulting and communicating with clients

Background

The Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA) administers and regulates Australia's personal insolvency system and is responsible for administering the Bankruptcy Act. Its work largely involves the delivery of bankruptcy-related services either directly to the community or through professionals such as insolvency practitioners and financial counsellors. It has, with the Attorney-General's Department, responsibility for bankruptcy policy.

Keeping pace with the needs of clients and changes in the system of credit requires ITSA to work more closely with professional client groups to achieve its purpose, which is

to provide a personal insolvency system that produces equitable outcomes for debtors and creditors, enjoys public confidence and minimises the impact of financial failure on the community.

ITSA cannot achieve its purpose by simply regulating the 'industry' and providing some services itself to the community. The effective delivery of personal insolvency services is dependent on ITSA, insolvency practitioners and financial counsellors, and creditors working collaboratively.

The features described below ensure that ITSA is able to assess and review periodically the effectiveness of its advice to government, taking appropriate account of the views of stakeholders while, at the same time, addressing several key indicators of successful service delivery.

Description

The main features of ITSA's consultation and communication with clients are:

  • the Bankruptcy Reform Consultation Forum which meets six-monthly and comprises representatives of peak bodies of stakeholder groups-creditors (banks, finance companies, credit unions), debtors (financial counselling agencies), and professional bodies (lawyers and accountants)
  • consultation on practice, procedure and service levels with representatives of professional groups at the local level
  • development with practitioners of national standards for bankruptcy administration, known as PINS, to apply to all practitioners
  • regular distribution of New Directions in Bankruptcy, a journal edited by ITSA with content provided by practitioners in ITSA as well as private insolvency practitioners, and newsletters such as Regulator and local newsletters keeping professional clients informed of developments
  • conduct of a client opinion survey every two years by an independent consultant designed with assistance from client focus groups
  • development of a client service charter through a process of client focus groups and feedback from client opinion surveys
  • recording and analysing complaints about service as well as compliments received from clients.

The conduct of a client opinion survey every two years based on key indicators of service attributes allows tracking of trends and benchmarking of service performance. Most importantly it gathers clients' views on developments in business and the community to inform ITSA about emerging issues and changing client needs for planning purposes. It also highlights concerns about how services are being delivered, any fall off in service standards and the strength of ITSA's relationships.

Key APS Values

The APS delivers services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public and is sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(g) of the PS Act)

The APS is responsive to the Government in providing frank, honest, comprehensive, accurate and timely advice and in implementing the Government's policies and programs. (s. 10(1)(f) of the PS Act)

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

DIGBY ROSS
PHONE 07 3360 5400

Case study 19: Centrelink: Community partnerships

Background

Local Centrelink offices seek to establish well-organised and meaningful relationships with key partners in local communities to achieve common goals. Community partnerships are developed with either traditional welfare groups or other groups that work directly with people in need, including local businesses.

Following the passage of the Australians working together (AWT) legislation Centrelink has expanded links with key community and business groups to assist mutual customers, manage the expectations of job network providers and build relationships based on fair and impartial dealings.

In upholding the APS Value relating to delivering services effectively to the Australian public, Centrelink builds community capacity by supporting community-based initiatives. The aim is to better respond to the increasingly complex needs of customers by linking them back to their communities, ultimately helping them to attain greater independence.

Description

The range of strategies used to establish community partnerships includes:

  • using a community engagement software tool whereby local managers can record interactions between staff and business/community leaders and ensure that staff are visible and active community partners
  • developing partnerships with universities to provide Centrelink services on campus-for example, Toowong Customer Service Centre has negotiated the use of student union on-campus premises to facilitate regular, ongoing service to youth and students
  • responding jointly with community leaders to address local issues-for example, the Fraser Coast Elder Abuse Project led to increased community awareness, promotion of rights of elder citizens, and practical assistance
  • developing partnerships with remote communities through links with local councils, neighbourhood centres and other available agencies-for example, a partnership with the Gayndah local council and Centrelink has resulted in a staff member working from the library at Gayndah to deal with both Centrelink and library business. This arrangement enables the facility to remain open for five days rather than three
  • involvement with special needs groups-for example, at the Couloundra office work is being done with key community groups to develop alternative hinterland housing options for young people at risk
  • developing partnerships with hospitals to provide more accessible services for mutual customers-for example, streamlined outservice is being provided (as required) to the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane to customers with terminal conditions and/or mental health issues
  • working in partnership with organisations to address the needs of people from diverse backgrounds-for example, Caboolture office has linked with local Samoan community groups to keep young Samoan people in schools.

Key APS Value

The APS delivers services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public and is sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(g) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

SUZAN ANTHONY
PHONE 07 3000 3099

Case study 20: Department of Transport and Regional Services: Selection and recruitment handbook

Background

The Department of Transport and Regional Services' (DOTARS) Selection and Recruitment Handbook is part of a package that includes an information kit for applicants and a selection panel kit to help managers fill job opportunities successfully and at the right time. Designed to meet the minimum legislative requirements under the Public Service Act 1999, the handbook also describes how to meet DOTARS' objectives in engaging, promoting and moving employees to meet its business needs. A centralised recruitment unit supports this approach.

Description

The handbook is designed to be user-friendly for employees involved in selection exercises. While it focuses mainly on the recruitment and selection process it also provides some explanation of the policy and the reasons behind the process.

The handbook sets out in its introduction all relevant APS Values relating to selection and recruitment. It also makes clear the importance of meeting legislative requirements, such as the Public Service Commissioner's Directions relating to the merit Value. Key features of the handbook are that it:

  • is written in plain English with material presented in a logical fashion so that it can be understood by someone without any recruitment and selection background
  • clearly explains the need to examine each vacancy to determine the appropriate staffing action, including good practical guidance on analysing the vacancy and developing selection documentation and selection criteria which is crucial to the success of the exercise and helps ensure that the process conforms with the merit Value
  • emphasises the importance of planning-good planning is more likely to result in a transparent process
  • provides information to panels on different selection techniques and the practical aspects of their administration, which enables them to take account of the flexibilities in selection that are available and assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of them
  • has supporting documentation and kits to standardise procedures with practical advice for panel members- for example, on taking referee comments and keeping notes-which helps meet the requirements of the Public Service Commissioner's Directions in relation to fair and transparent processes
  • encourages a selection and recruitment process which is responsive to applicants, sensitive to Commonwealth employment legislation (for example, provisions covering applicants with disabilities and their reasonable adjustment), obtaining referee reports, conducting interviews, and providing feedback.

Key APS Values

The APS is a public service in which employment decisions are based on merit. (s. 10(1)(b) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a workplace that is free from discrimination and recognises and utilises the diversity of the Australian community it serves. (s. 10(1)(c) of the PS Act)

The APS promotes equity in employment. (s. 10(1)(l) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a reasonable opportunity to all eligible members of the community to apply for APS employment. (s. 10(1)(m) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

SANDRA DILLEY
PHONE 02 6274 6228

Case study 21: Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia: Recruitment and selection

Background

About half of the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia's (ITSA's) workforce requires a professional qualification, generally in accounting.

ITSA reviewed and updated its recruitment framework in 2000 prompted by:

  • workforce planning considerations identified by the ITSA leadership team, including:
    • providing the best possible pool of applicants for any vacancy
    • addressing labour market difficulties, particularly for staff with accounting qualifications
    • promoting ITSA as an employer of choice
    • ensuring that selection is conducted across a broad range of capabilities that will position ITSA to meet future challenges
  • legislative changes-ensuring that all those involved in recruitment and selection understand and comply with the requirements of the Public Service Act 1999, including the merit principle and APS Values
  • continuous improvement-having efficient, streamlined processes that reflect best practice and achieve business outcomes.

ITSA's policy and procedures provide sound guidance on meeting legislative requirements without the development of unnecessary process.

Description

Responsibility for recruitment and selection lies with the managers in each regional ITSA branch office. To help managers, guidelines are available on the recruitment and selection of both ongoing and non-ongoing employees. Each guideline is a simple reference document that:

  • highlights key strategic and workforce planning considerations
  • reinforces the legislative basis of recruitment in the APS
  • outlines each stage of the process from planning to induction of a new employee.

The following documents and templates are also provided to managers and selection advisory committees (SACs):

  • a recruitment planner-to enable recruitment exercises to be properly mapped out before advertising
  • draft Gazette and press advertisements-to ensure that advertisements include key messages and promote ITSA as an employer
  • pro-forma selection documentation-to ensure that comprehensive information is provided to prospective applicants
  • template SAC report-to help selection committees and delegates, and provide a format and methodology that helps in presenting SAC recommendations
  • pro-forma unsuccessful letters-to ensure that all applicants receive information about the outcome of selection processes, review rights and an opportunity to seek feedback.

Documentation and templates are all available on ITSA's intranet, with links to APS legislation and other key resources.

All selection criteria for vacancies include ITSA's five generic capabilities. In addition, job-specific criteria outline the key knowledge or experience required for a particular position. The generic capabilities (think strategically, achieve results, develop productive working relationships, demonstrate personal drive and integrity, and communicate effectively) are based on the APS Senior Executive Leadership Capability Framework. They provide indicators that describe the behaviour that would demonstrate the capabilities at each classification level. Use of the generic capabilities ensures ITSA selects employees who demonstrate the professionalism, ability and flexibility to support a high-performing organisation. Indicators for the APS Values and Code of Conduct are included within one of the capabilities at each level and help to ensure that an assessment is made of how work is done as well as what is achieved.

ITSA has produced the pamphlet Working with ITSA for general distribution. It is designed to promote ITSA to potential applicants outside the APS (private sector and accounting graduates) by outlining some of the nonremuneration benefits offered, such as work life balance and the commitment to employee development.

Key APS Values

The APS is a public service in which employment decisions are based on merit. (s. 10(1)(b) of the PS Act)

The APS promotes equity in employment. (s. 10(1)(l) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a reasonable opportunity to all eligible members of the community to apply for APS employment. (s. 10(1)(m) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a fair system of review of decisions taken in respect of APS employees. (s. 10(1)(o) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

SANDRA HAYHOE
PHONE 02 8233 7897

Case study 22: Department of Defence: Implementation of equity and diversity

Background

The Defence Equity Organisation (DEO) was established in 1997 to ensure equity and diversity was implemented throughout the organisation. Because Defence is an organisation that relies heavily on teamwork and on gaining the best from its people, it aims to have equity and diversity recognised as essential, and incorporated into its dayto- day business activities.

The full support of senior leaders has been critical to implementing equity and diversity policies in Defence.

Defence is traditionally an organisation with low levels of representation from those groups that suffer employment-related disadvantage on the basis of gender, indigenous status, race, ethnicity or having a disability.

Description

The DEO is responsible for developing and managing the Defence Workplace Equity and Diversity Plan (WEDP). It brings a consolidated approach to equity and diversity that was developed taking into account, in particular, the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act), the Commonwealth Disability Strategy and the Charter of public service in a culturally diverse society.

The Defence Disability Action Plan 1999-2003 (DAP) and the Indigenous Staff Recruitment and Career Development Action Plan 1999-2003 sit under the umbrella of the WEDP, and address specific equity and diversity initiatives.

The WEDP provides for Defence Equity Coordinators (DECs), who are the representatives of the DEO for their state or territory. They facilitate and coordinate the Defence Equity Adviser Network and are available to provide training and advice on equity and diversity policy and related issues.

The Equity Adviser Network consists of 3500 trained equity advisers and senior equity advisers around Australia. Equity advisers are available in workplaces to provide information and options for resolving workplace equity and diversity issues, and to support the implementation of equity and diversity initiatives. Discussion with equity advisers is confidential. Equity advisers are provided with the latest information on equity and diversity policy, training and procedures in a number of ways. They include a regular newsletter, the annual Defence Equity Coordinator Conference and Workshop, regional Defence equity coordinator and senior equity adviser meetings, and the DEO website. Senior equity advisers coordinate and support networks of equity advisers.

Key policies and strategies that have been developed and adopted in accordance with the WEDP are:

  • Annual equity and diversity training, in which all Defence personnel are required to participate. This can be done by either attending a presentation or by completing online training. The DEO has developed an awareness training package, which is available as a PowerPoint presentation that can be used by equity advisers and senior equity advisers to deliver equity and diversity awareness training to their workplaces. Two sessions are available for the online training. The first involves self-paced completion of five modules addressing equity, diversity and unacceptable behaviour. The second session consists of four modules-one that tests staff knowledge of session one, and three dealing with bullying in the workplace. Participants receive a certificate when they complete the modules.
  • Cultural diversity awareness training, which was created in consultation with Centrelink. It is available as a PowerPoint presentation and in compact disc format to facilitate its use in all Defence units, ships and branches. The WEDP and the Defence Multicultural Policy encourage completion of the training by all Defence personnel.
  • Sexual orientation awareness training, which is available as an online awareness session and as a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by speaker's notes. The WEDP encourages completion of the training by all Defence personnel.
  • A guide to equity and diversity in Defence that provides information on equity and diversity principles, including the reasons for their implementation, and outlines the contribution equity and diversity can have on Australian Defence Force capability. The booklet also provides an overview of the Equity Adviser Network and includes contact details.
  • A Defence multicultural policy which includes an outline of the roles and responsibilities of commanders, managers and all Defence personnel in relation to the policy.
  • A plain English guide to managing and eliminating unacceptable behaviour in the workplace, which defines unacceptable behaviour and provides an overview of relevant procedures. It is cross-referenced to other relevant policy documents, such as the ADF Sexual Assault Information Pack, and relevant legislation.
  • A Defence equity advice line, which is available seven days a week, including public holidays, between 0830 and 2100 hours on freecall telephone numbers. The service is available to military and civilian staff, contractors and to family members of Defence staff. Callers do not have to give either their names or locations.

Defence also produces an annual report on equity and diversity. It details the performance of each Service and Group in terms of how they implemented WEDP and DAP actions, and how they met their responsibilities to ensure that the principles and practices of equity and diversity were embedded within Defence.

Recognising that ongoing review and evaluation is critical to continuous improvement, Defence's Inspector-General was tasked in 2001 with the conduct of an evaluation of equity and diversity in Defence. The report of this evaluation, which was issued in March 2002, provided a number of recommendations to improve and complement existing initiatives at the strategic level. The DEO has implemented the majority of practicable recommendations. For example, a needs analysis of equity adviser training has been completed and the training has been reviewed as a result. Recommendations for introducing new initiatives and expanding existing ones that require additional funding are being reviewed.

Key APS Values

The APS provides a workplace that is free from discrimination and recognises and utilises the diversity of the

Australian community it serves. (s. 10(1)(c) of the PS Act)

The APS promotes equity in employment. (s. 10(1)(l) of the PS Act)

The APS is a public service in which employment decisions are based on merit. (s. 10(1)(b) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace. (s. 10(1)(j) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

BRONWEN GREY
PHONE 02 6265 4677

Case study 23: Attorney-General's Department: Development of a certified agreement

Background

Consultation for the 2002 certified agreement at the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) started six months before the nominal expiry date of the previous agreement with the aim of having it ready to commence when the previous agreement expired.

Description

Staff involvement

The department's Workplace Relations Committee (WRC) comprising four management representatives, staff representatives and two union representatives, was established in December 2001. Committee membership represented each classification level and part-time employees.

Members attended a one-day training and planning session facilitated by an external provider. This gave them an understanding of the legislative and policy framework, different approaches to agreement making, an understanding of the principles and dynamics of communication and consultation, as well as developing a recommended role for the WRC in the agreement process. This approach complements and embeds the APS Values in providing an environment that encourages and contributes to effective workplace relations systems and procedures.

Consultation and communication

The WRC was set up as a consultative forum. E-mail networks were established to help disseminate and collect information between employees and management, as well as to promote consultation amongst employees themselves and within classification levels. In addition, communication methods such as a certified agreement intranet site with an anonymous staff feedback capability, a newsletter and regular staff information sessions fostered staff participation.

Division heads were provided with a briefing paper on all initiatives in the agreement and were required to conduct information/discussion sessions with their staff before voting started. The active involvement of senior management was well received by staff and contributed to a feeling of commitment to, and ownership of, the outcome at all levels.

The above approaches underscore the application of the APS Values in providing a system that enables staff to express views on issues that affect their workplace, maximise their input into the agreement-making process, as well as reinforcing managers' commitment to effective workplace relations practices.

Staff ownership

Staff ownership of the agreement-making process and the agreement itself was promoted and supported in several ways, including the:

  • ability for staff representatives to caucus and workshop at any time to discuss issues of concern
  • relative freedom for representatives to communicate with their constituents when and how they wanted
  • WRC developing key objectives by which the consultation would occur and how the agreement would operate-the broad objectives being:
    • valuing and developing AGD employees
    • working together
    • ensuring health and wellbeing.

Outcome

The agreement, endorsed by an 89% majority in June 2002, has strong ownership by staff and focuses on promoting a flexible and healthy workplace. WRC meetings continue to ensure staff have the opportunity to provide feedback on the implementation and operation of the agreement. The agreement also specifically commits the parties to uphold the APS Values and the Code of Conduct.

Key APS Values

The APS establishes workplace relations that value communication, consultation, cooperation and input from employees on matters that affect their workplace. (s. 10(1)(i) of the PS Act)

The APS has leadership of the highest quality. (s. 10(1)(h) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace. (s. 10(1)(j) of the PS Act)

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

DIRECTOR EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
matt.madin [at] ag.gov.au (Subject: Embedding%20Values%20case%20study)

Case study 24:
Department of Defence: Employees' certified agreement

Background

There was extensive consultation with staff and employee representatives in the lead-up to implementation of Defence Employees' Certified Agreements (DECAs). Communication and consultation strategies developed during the planning stages of each DECA ensure that employee consultation remains a key component for identifying issues to be addressed in developing each agreement.

Extensive promotional campaign avenues for communication resulted in high attendance levels at consultative forums, and high-volume and quality employee contributions. There is a strong sense of employee ownership of recent certified agreements, demonstrated by their wide acceptance when put to the vote.

The current agreement, DECA 2002-03, incorporates ongoing arrangements for consultation after the completion of the agreement-making process. Consultation has already begun for the next Defence certified agreement.

Description

DECA 2002-03 was developed through an extensive consultation process involving Defence employees, leaders and staff associations. The communication strategy encouraged the involvement of staff in the development process, providing opportunities for input through initiatives such as workshops and seminars, online query options, and the DECA hotline.

The agreement was well received by staff and was voted in with a very strong 'yes' vote of 89%. This success was largely due to the high level of staff involvement in developing the agreement and the continuous flow of information back to staff on the progress of negotiations.

DECA 2002-03 is a principles-based certified agreement. It includes an ongoing commitment to consultation and the introduction of change based on the principle that: 'Employees will be consulted on matters affecting their workplace and will have an opportunity to have their views considered on changes that impact directly or indirectly on their employment'.

The principle is supported by initiatives that include mechanisms for local, group and national consultative meetings between staff and managers. Defence commits in the DECA to providing appropriate facilities for the conduct of these meetings, such as reasonable time off without deduction of salary, access to appropriate learning, and access to office equipment and accommodation.

The current agreement provides some of the key building blocks for enabling Australian public servants in Defence to do their best through a Results through People philosophy, and to meet their obligations to adhere to the Values of the APS. The following principles underpin all provisions in the agreement:

  • communicating, consulting and seeking input from employees on matters affecting their workplace
  • valuing and rewarding good performance and providing honest feedback
  • aligning people's performance with what Defence does
  • improving organisational competency by developing Defence's people
  • providing appropriate, equitable remuneration and reward for a diverse public sector workplace
  • assisting employees to balance their work and private commitments
  • providing a safe, secure and fair environment
  • respecting and valuing diversity, preventing discrimination, ensuring freedom of association and behaving honestly.

The next certified agreement

The process for the next certified agreement, which began in February this year, is designed to build on the successes of the 2002-03 negotiations. Employee contributions, as well as the commitment to engaging in open and constructive discussion with employees, are pivotal to its development.

In preparing for the next certified agreement, Defence Workplace Relations (DWR) is hosting a series of 45 consultation workshops across Australia to gain a better understanding of employee attitudes and opinions. The objective of the workshops is to identify the key issues concerning staff and to develop proposals for further consideration. Key components to this strategy include:

  • a focus on disseminating printed and electronic information bulletins ensuring access by all civilian employees
  • phone, fax, e-mail and postal avenues by which staff can submit ideas and opinions to DWR
  • national staff workshops to discuss issues and forward proposals for inclusion in the negotiations
  • negotiations with staff associations that represent approximately one-third of all departmental employees before the draft agreement goes to the vote
  • departmental communications to all employees encouraging them to demonstrate their support or otherwise for the proposed DECA through the voting process.

Key APS Value

The APS establishes workplace relations that value communication, consultation, cooperation and input from employees on matters that affect their workplace. (s. 10(1)(i) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

DAVID NOCKELS
PHONE 02 6266 3255

Case study 25: Department of Transport and Regional Services: Certified agreement and flexible work practices

Background

The Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) Certified Agreement 2002-04 is designed to reflect its organisational culture and ethos.

Partly as the result of staff surveys, one of the aims of the agreement is to implement mechanisms that enable people to balance their work and personal lives.

Description

The certified agreement includes in its preamble a commitment to be ethical in the practical application of the provisions of the Public Service Act 1999, the APS Values, the Code of Conduct and the department's values.

The preamble sets out eight objectives for the agreement and describes how these objectives are to be achieved. Many of the principles contained in those APS Values that relate to workplace relationships, such as equity, diversity, communication, consultation, cooperation, fairness and flexibility, are referred to.

The agreement recognises that over and above the need to balance work, family and other caring responsibilities, workplace arrangements need to be sufficiently flexible so as not to interfere unduly with the general interests and responsibilities of employees outside work.

Although the fundamental conditions to support genuinely flexible working arrangements, such as part-time and home-based work, extended bandwidth, flexible working hours and annual leave at half pay, had been in place in the department for some years, they had not been widely used. Through the agreement, these conditions of employment are given more prominence and complement other initiatives, such as new leave provisions.

The agreement encourages employees to consider options that include: working more hours over fewer days, setting an individual bandwidth pattern, employee-funded breaks that are similar to purchased leave, job sharing, and employee sharing where an employee can undertake two part-time jobs within the department provided they do not exceed normal working hours. There is a focus on enabling staff to use flexible work practices.

An increased number of staff now work from home, do part-time work, or job share. This enables staff to undertake, for example, post-graduate study or a phased approach to retirement.

The agreement also introduces 25 days a year of personal circumstances leave that combines sick, family, and emergency leave and also incorporates bereavement, new parent and ceremonial leave, and other approved purposes. It is intended that personal circumstances leave will help employees better balance the competing demands of work and personal life and that requests will be interpreted broadly to cater most effectively for the wide diversity of individual circumstances, backgrounds, commitments and working styles.

Key APS Values

The APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace. (s. 10(1)(j) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a workplace that is free from discrimination and recognises and utilises the diversity of the Australian community it serves. (s. 10(1)(c) of the PS Act)

The APS promotes equity in employment. (s. 10(1)(l) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

STEWART THOMAS
PHONE 02 6274 8179

Case study 26: Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia: Consultative arrangements

Background

The Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA) aims to provide a participative work environment that encourages employee input and transparent decision making. Active involvement of employees in the introduction of new employment-related policies and change initiatives contributes to successful implementation and improved organisational effectiveness.

ITSA has put in place workplace systems and structures that enable staff to contribute their views and maximise their input to meeting organisational objectives. The current arrangements are based on those successfully adopted during consultation in ITSA's first certified agreement in 1998. They recognise that consultation not only involves providing information to employees, but also includes explaining how decisions have been made and how the views expressed by employees were taken into account. These initiatives underpin effective workplace relations and provide staff with the opportunity for input at all stages of the corporate planning and development process.

Description

The ITSA Certified Agreement 2002-04 (ITSA CA) provides a definition of consultation which includes:

  • providing relevant information to employees
  • taking account of employee views
  • explaining decisions that have been made.

Under the ITSA CA, formal consultation occurs at two levels:

  • the National Consultative Committee (NCC), which meets twice a year and considers issues such as national policy and practice, and other matters that will impact on all ITSA employees-it comprises the chief executive, the executive director and employee relations manager as employer representatives and a representative from each branch consultative committee (BCC) as employee representatives
  • BCCs which meet at least four times a year, with the membership determined by each branch, but comprised of management and employee representatives.

Issues considered at BCCs are usually specific to the individual branch. However, BCCs also provide branch input into issues that have national implications and will be considered at the NCC level.

Consultation occurs on all employment-related policy documents developed in ITSA. Policies are issued on an interim basis and are circulated to all employees by e-mail. Employees are encouraged to provide feedback or respond with issues or concerns. They are able to do this:

  • through their branch representatives on the BCC
  • through their manager or branch head
  • directly to the employee relations section.

Employee feedback and comments are collated and responses are documented. This information is circulated to all staff by e-mail and placed on ITSA's intranet. Following this process policy documents may go through several iterations before being finalised.

If significant issues are raised they are discussed at the NCC, otherwise the NCC will formally finalise the consultation process via e-mail.

ITSA ensures that all employees receive regular information on key management decisions. E-mail summaries of national Leadership and Executive Board meetings are issued shortly after each meeting. The minutes of board meetings and related reports are also made available on the intranet.

The use of project teams and cross-branch work groups is encouraged for the development of new initiatives. This increases the opportunity for employees to be involved in the implementation of organisational improvements.

ITSA conducts an employee opinion survey every two years to obtain confidential feedback from employees. The results of the survey are made available to all staff. Action plans are developed to respond to issues highlighted in the surveys. The results of the survey are benchmarked over time to measure how successfully ITSA has addressed organisational issues.

Key APS Value

The APS establishes workplace relations that value communication, consultation, cooperation and input from employees on matters that affect their workplace. (s. 10(1)(i) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

SANDRA HAYHOE
PHONE 02 8233 7897

Case study 27: Australian Bureau of Statistics: Information sharing

Background

The Australian Bureau of Statistics's (ABS's) working environment is underpinned by an organisation-wide information sharing culture characterised by openness, high levels of trust and a widespread preference for accessing information online. In particular, this has enabled the development of a mature and effective approach to facilitating workplace interactions, which allows management and staff to readily communicate, consult, provide input and cooperate on all matters that affect the employment relationship.

Description

In 1991, the ABS started an organisation-wide office computing project with the goal of creating an electronic working environment of the future. The main objective at the time was to provide a platform which would lift productivity. However, the project also encompassed many other elements of the contemporary electronic environment including:

  • document and content management
  • online access to information and services of all types
  • search tools
  • tools to enhance personal and workgroup effectiveness.

An unforeseen outcome of the chosen technology platform (Lotus Notes), but one which came to be recognised as offering a significant 'window of opportunity' to the ABS, was Notes' ability to improve information sharing across the organisation. During the early 1990s this was achieved by deploying online information repositories (databases) and developing supporting discussion forums. A significant factor leading to the rapid uptake and acceptance of these services was the decision taken by senior management in late 1993 to require repositories to be open to all staff, except where confidentiality was absolutely necessary. A direct consequence of this decision is that, for more than 10 years now, ABS management and staff have been able to communicate, consult, provide input and cooperate on all matters that affect their workplace and employment relationship.

Since 1993 hundreds of information databases and forums have been created to support the ABS's work. Some confine their context to the support of specific workgroups, others cut across the work of many areas, and others enable the ABS to either inform or consult staff. For example, in developing the forthcoming certified agreement, technology is being innovatively and effectively used to communicate to all staff advice of required events, advise arrangements for and encourage consultation, promote open discussion of proposals and ideas, invite questions, and provide answers to frequently asked questions and links to background information.

As management and staff understanding of the benefits of an information-sharing environment has matured, the ABS has continued to leverage its environment to improve information sharing. Promoting information-sharing behaviours is now an important component of the organisation's basic Introduction to the Desktop course. Technologies and practices continue to be developed to facilitate access to the range of enabling information and services that ABS staff require to work knowledgeably and effectively. These include an intranet, the development of targeted assistants (themed portals), and enhanced mechanisms for distributing corporate messages (including video to the desktop) through the development of a single broadcast point on the intranet (NewsPoint). NewsPoint also serves as a record of the ABS's communication with its staff as well as an effective index to corporate life.

The work environment foreseen in 1991 has evolved to the extent that the ABS can now be described as a knowledge-enabled environment. This description aptly links the internal workplace environment to the Bureau's external aim-to assist and encourage informed decision making.

Key APS Value

The APS establishes workplace relations that value communication, consultation, cooperation and input from employees on matters that affect their workplace. (s. 10(1)(i) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

DALE CHATWIN
PHONE 02 6252 6610

Case study 28: Australian Bureau of Statistics: Planning and resource allocation

Background

The provision of a high-quality national statistical service is a complex management exercise because of the diverse nature of user requirements and, in most instances, the lead time required to develop collections. While it is not possible to satisfy all demands, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) seeks to react positively and responsibly to the demonstrated needs of its users. At the same time, the ABS is constrained by the availability of funding. It must also consider the load placed on providers of information for its collections.

The ABS's corporate plan sets out the mission, values and objectives of the organisation, thereby defining the desired state that it is planning toward over the next three-to-five years. Together they help stimulate longer-term thinking in response to a changing environment and help the ABS assess what it does and how it does it.

A three-year forward work program (FWP) is developed within the overarching framework provided by the Corporate Plan. The plan is rolled forward by one year as the first year of the program is implemented. For the purpose of internal planning, the ABS's work program comprises 28 individual statistical program components and 28 corporate and statistical support program components. Most individual programs are further subdivided into a number of projects. As detailed work programs are developed, resources are allocated and performance indicators are established.

Each year, senior management extensively and formally considers relative priorities and competing resource requirements of all programs. Particular attention is given to:

  • the extent to which particular statistical activities continue to be justified with other work for which a demand has been expressed by users
  • the cost imposed on respondents by collections, in terms of time, effort and intrusion
  • prospective total resources available to the ABS within the three-year period
  • the market potential and revenue implications of the various initiatives proposed
  • productivity gains which have been achieved or which might be possible in the future
  • total demands on the service areas that the proposed forward work program will entail.

Description

The ABS planning process involves a cycle of planning, implementing and reviewing. Review of the transparency, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of program operations is therefore an ongoing component of managing the ABS's work program.

Annual program reports are prepared and presented to management for review and discussion. This helps ensure that program activities are aligned with the objectives defined in the strategic planning process. A continuous review of performance measures, included in such reports, is undertaken to improve their consistency and relevance. This allows better assessment of program performance over time and comparative assessment of performance across programs.

The ABS is a very active participant in audits initiated by the Australian National Audit Office, and also employs the services of an external auditor to do compliance and performance audits. In addition, the ABS regularly conducts reviews of a wide range of its statistical activities in order to ensure appropriate statistics are collected, compiled and disseminated. These reviews cover aspects such as user requirements, data collection, analysis and dissemination.

The ABS has established a benchmarking network of national statistical agencies to compare output effectiveness and efficiency between agencies, and to identify and learn from areas of best practice. This benchmarking is in addition to the ongoing internal review of ABS statistical and service activities aimed at ensuring their relevance and efficiency.

Information on the outcomes, outputs, and main medium-term development plans is provided for each program. Direct costs (on an accrual basis) are also provided for individual programs.

In establishing its forward work program, the ABS is advised by the Australian Statistics Advisory Council and other user groups. The information obtained through these forums is supplemented with information obtained from bilateral discussions with key clients, conferences and seminars, outposted statistical officers, and day-to-day contact with clients in the course of disseminating data.

Key APS Values

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

The APS is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(e) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

SEAN THOMPSON
PHONE 02 6252 7191

Case study 29: Australian Bureau of Statistics: Management of underperformance

Background

A primary strategy for people management in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is to focus on individual performance and conduct to ensure its people achieve ABS objectives and behave in a manner consistent with the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

The ABS has developed written guidelines on the ABS Performance Management Scheme, managing underperformance, managing probation, and communicating for better work performance. The performance management package encompasses:

  • organisational values, skills and behaviours
  • clarity of role and responsibilities
  • fair and transparent procedures that are readily accessible to all staff
  • remuneration directly linked to performance
  • rewards for high performance through reward and incentive schemes
  • effective feedback and development of individual learning plans
  • clear processes for the management of underperformance
  • natural justice principles-that is, employees are given the opportunity to respond to allegations of underperformance and the opportunity to improve.

Description

The ABS's guidelines on the ABS Performance Management Scheme, managing work performance, managing probation, and communicating for better work performance form part of the ABS Manual of Personnel Management and are available electronically from employees' desktops. The guidelines, while strongly principles-based, clearly set out the processes involved in performance management within the ABS. The guidelines encompass the important considerations identified in the APS Commission publication, Values in the Australian Public Service. All staff, through induction and orientation programs, are told of their responsibilities to familiarise themselves with and abide by ABS policies and guidelines.

The ABS recognises that, in order to attain and sustain a satisfactory level of performance, employees must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how their work aligns with, and contributes to, the achievement of ABS goals. The ABS Performance Management Scheme has been designed to improve employees' understanding of their role, their work responsibilities and of the performance standards expected of them. It also provides a focus for recognising and improving performance against corporate and work program goals.

The scheme provides a framework for managing work performance, including unsatisfactory performance. Participation in the Performance Management Scheme is compulsory for all ongoing staff.

Through ABS manager/leadership programs, line managers are made aware of their responsibilities to maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity and propriety and to ensure that their employees are familiar with, and meet, the required standards of individual performance and conduct. There are clear messages given to all managers that they must take appropriate action should they identify a case of underperformance.

The People Management Advisory Unit (PMAU) and Regional Office Employee Relations Units are responsible for ensuring that ABS processes established to manage underperformance are followed. The PMAU oversees the managing work performance process between a manager and employee, providing independent unbiased advice and support to both parties.

In cases of underperformance the ABS managing work performance guidelines allow for a two-stage process. The first is a three-month informal process between the manager and employee, the critical elements of which are open communication and ongoing feedback between the parties. If the employee attains and sustains the requisite level of performance during this informal stage, the process ends.

However, if the employee does not attain and sustain the requisite level of performance, the process then moves to the second level-a formal three-month stage involving a formal warning to the employee that their level of performance is unsatisfactory. An independent assessor, who must be from outside the employee's work area and must not have had any involvement with the employee previously, is appointed. The assessor is responsible for assessing the employee's performance against a structured work program. While the manager continues to have day-to-day supervision responsibility for the employee during this process, he/she takes no part in determining whether the employee is performing satisfactorily as this is the sole responsibility of the assessor.

At the end of the three-month formal process, the assessor determines whether the employee has attained and sustained the requisite level of performance and provides a written report to the delegate. The delegate (SES Corporate Services) determines the action to be taken should the employee fail to demonstrate that he/she has attained and sustained the appropriate level of performance.

Key APS Values

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

The APS promotes equity in employment. (s. 10(1)(l) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace. (s. 10(1)(j) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

JENNY O'CONNOR
PHONE 02 6252 7270

Case study 30: Attorney-General's Department: Generic capabilities

Background

In 1998-99, the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) experienced one of the most significant periods of change in its long history. At the same time it was implementing significant government initiatives aimed at enhanced public sector performance and accountability. To meet these challenges, the department needed to communicate effectively and become a collaborative, inclusive and flexible organisation in which all staff felt valued for their contribution. In introducing change the department's overall aim was to become recognised by its stakeholders and clients for its professionalism and expertise.

As a result, it was decided that it was critical to devise a practical approach to workforce planning and management to provide for skills development, career management and succession planning. It was agreed that the department would assess its capability and projected strategic direction over the next three-to-five years to clarify workforce projections. This would underpin recruitment, job design, development and all other elements of an integrated approach to people management, covering workforce plans and a program of training and development to align individual development with organisational goals.

Description

To help ensure that the AGD recruits and develops people who will support its organisational values and help achieve its vision, a set of AGD generic capabilities was developed. They are based on the APS Senior Executive Leadership Capability Framework and are consistent with the APS Values.

The capabilities, developed through extensive consultation with the AGD executive, managers and staff, are designed to assist AGD managers and staff in discussion, planning and decision making on:

  • recruitment and selection
  • people development, including career path planning
  • performance management
  • workforce planning.

The capabilities describe five essential generic skill sets that apply to all positions and levels within the AGD. Each capability has a number of indicators that describe the skills and behaviours expected at each classification level when demonstrating the particular capability. The indicators are designed to help establish a consistent, shared understanding of the level of expectation for each capability at each classification. Some indicators might not be applicable to a particular position because the nature or function of the job does not require or allow a particular behaviour to be demonstrated.

Under the demonstrated personal drive and integrity capability at each classification level, there is a performance requirement relating specifically to the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

The capabilities are essential selection criteria for all AGD positions. They are complemented by position-specific criteria which:

  • relate to professional, technical and/or subject matter knowledge, experience and/or qualifications relevant to the position
  • should not overlap with skills/requirements covered by the generic capabilities
  • should only be included where they are considered an essential or significant requirement of the position
  • should be classified as either essential or desirable criteria.

In conjunction with the above process the department developed its vision of Achieving a just and secure society using scenario-planning techniques.

The Workforce Planning Strategy continues to evolve and, over the next few months, the department will again examine its future needs to:

  • identify the department's strategic direction over the next one-to-five years
  • identify and agree on future workforce capabilities required over the next three-to-five years
  • identify the need for workforce planning
  • engage the support and commitment of the SES in the workforce planning process.

The outcomes of this examination will establish the department's workforce demand. Phase 2, Data Collection, will establish its workforce supply and phase 3, Gap Analysis, will help the department to identify human resource strategies to reduce the gap between its workforce supply and demand. It is expected that this will focus more on the technical skills required (i.e. position specific capabilities) than on the Generic Capabilities required across the organisation.

Key APS Values

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

The APS is a career-based service to enhance the effectiveness and cohesion of Australia's democratic system of government. (s. 10(1)(n) of the PS Act)

The APS is a public service in which employment decisions are based on merit. (s. 10(1)(b) of the PS Act)

The APS provides a reasonable opportunity to all eligible members of the community to apply for APS employment. (s. 10(1)(m) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

JAN BLOMFIELD
PHONE 02 6250 6635

Case study 31: Centrelink: Celebration of achievement, recognition and awards

Background

Centrelink values the individual worth and contribution of its employees. It has developed six business improvement focus areas in its National People Plan that go to improving quality outcomes and strengthening the integration of people management with its business.

One of the focus areas is Committed to your Safety, Health and Wellbeing. A component of this focus is valuing an employee's unique skills and contribution by recognising and celebrating their achievements and successes.

Description

Recognition of an employee's contribution at work, both as an individual and as a member of a team, has a positive impact on motivation, productivity and job satisfaction. Accordingly Centrelink has developed a range of opportunities for its employees to celebrate their achievement and to receive recognition and awards for their contribution. This is realised through a number of schemes that are detailed below.

The Centrelink national recognition and award scheme

Centrelink has a well-developed program of national awards. These recognise outstanding achievement within the following categories of business: Change Management, Excellence in Youth Servicing, Customer Service, and Outstanding Achievement (the Ross Divett Memorial award).

Australia Day awards are made to staff who have shown outstanding dedication in service to Centrelink and/or their community during a difficult time or over a long period of time. Other national awards include CEO's Service Awards, the Public Service Medal and Order of Australia nominations.

Local workplace recognition and award schemes

All teams are encouraged to adopt formal and informal local recognition and award schemes. For example, in 2003 Area North Central Victoria developed an innovative recognition and encouragement program that includes formal and informal recognition at the local, cluster and area levels. Local awards are given twice yearly in the following categories: Customer Service, Supporting Centrelink People, Achievement of key performance indicators and Getting It Right. Cluster awards are made annually in the following categories: helping our customers move forward; outstanding achievement through innovation or change; working in partnership with the community and business; Indigenous servicing; and efficiency and effectiveness of operations and procedures. The annual area awards consolidate the local and cluster award categories.

Promoting and celebrating recognition and awards

Centrelink People magazine, which is available to all Centrelink employees in hard copy, or online through the intranet, contains features on the activities and achievements of Centrelink employees. The magazine features a Words of Praise section that reproduces positive feedback from customer comment cards, letters and telephone calls.

External recognition and award

Centrelink actively seizes opportunities to celebrate achievements by nominating for external international, national and local awards. The Centrelink People magazine also showcases the many external award and recognition successes. For example, the December 2002 edition highlighted Liverpool Call Centre's success in the coveted Teleservices Centre of the Year, in the 50 staff or more category.

Monitoring the impact of national and local recognition and award programs

The effectiveness of Centrelink's internal recognition and award programs is monitored in twice yearly staff polls with a rating against 'You receive recognition and praise for good work'.

Key APS Values

The APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace. (s. 10(1)(j) of the PS Act)

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

MARK LE DIEU
PHONE 02 6208 8851

Case study 32: Australian Bureau of Statistics: Confidentiality and security of information

Background

The Australian Bureau of Statistics's (ABS's) commitment to confidentiality and security of information is grounded in provisions of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 (the Act), which prohibits ABS employees disclosing, other than as allowed by the Act, any information provided to the ABS in consequence of its legislative authority.

The Act imposes obligations on the ABS to publish and disseminate compilations and analyses of statistical information, and to maintain the confidentiality of information collected under the Act. On joining the ABS each employee is required to sign an Undertaking of Fidelity and Secrecy. Failure to comply with the undertaking is an indictable offence which can result in a significant fine or period of imprisonment.

However, confidentiality and secrecy of information is not simply an ABS legislative obligation. It is fundamental to ensuring the trust of providers-a core ABS principle. Without the trust of providers the capacity of the ABS to operate effectively and to achieve its mission would be considerably hampered if not irreparably damaged.

The confidentiality and secrecy of information has been a cornerstone of ABS operations since its inception and a responsibility which staff take very seriously. ABS staff are committed to, and take pride in, retaining the organisation's strong reputation for maintaining the secrecy of data.

Description

The importance of confidentiality and secrecy of information to the continued high performance and reputation of the ABS is established in its culture not only through the Undertaking of Fidelity and Secrecy, but also through:

  • induction programs for new employees, which incorporate sessions on ABS legislation and ABS Principles, including the compact with providers of statistical information
  • management training programs, which incorporate sessions on ABS legislation, ABS Principles and the mutual obligations statement central to the ABS Corporate Plan
  • intranet access by all staff to ABS legislation and related policies including the ABS's obligation to ensure the confidentiality of information
  • online resources, such as video presentations on relevant topics, which are readily available to all staff through the ABS intranet
  • strong physical and information technology security systems and well defined policies on data retention strategies.

Key APS Value

The APS has the highest ethical standards. (s. 10(1)(d) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

PAUL SULLIVAN
PHONE 02 6252 7809

Case study 33: Centrelink: Privacy and confidentiality

Background

In conducting its business Centrelink collects a large amount of sensitive personal information about its customers. Centrelink therefore developed a strong privacy culture to protect customer interests and to ensure that the community has confidence that its personal information is safe.

The foundation of this privacy culture is Centrelink's legal obligation to comply with the Privacy Act 1988 and the confidentiality provisions contained in the various legislation it administers, for example, the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999. In addition Centrelink developed privacy guidelines that were approved by the Board of Management.

The guidelines' objectives are about achieving customer service aims without compromising privacy, and strengthening the privacy protections already provided by the relevant legislation. They cover information-handling practices, information flows and privacy assessments for new functions and technologies.

Description

In the face of new and emerging technologies and the provision of more convenient services through various service delivery channels, it is vital to maintain public confidence in Centrelink's ability to protect individual privacy. Employees must have a good understanding of the application of both privacy and confidentiality legislation in their daily work.

Centrelink ensures that all employees are aware of their obligations and responsibilities in relation to privacy and confidentiality by:

  • Requiring all new employees to sign a Declaration of Privacy/Confidentiality-at this time, employees are also provided with the booklet Declaration of Confidentiality, which details privacy, confidentiality and security obligations
  • Maintaining an electronic Privacy Awareness Kit, which incorporates detailed guidelines on privacy and confidentiality issues for Centrelink employees-the kit is featured in the Centrelink National Induction Program, as well as in job-ready training for new employees, to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities in this area, especially when dealing with customers
  • Implementing an extensive privacy network which includes having at least one privacy office in each of its area offices to provide a privacy helpdesk function, as well as investigate and prepare reports about all privacy incidents.
  • The Privacy and Information Access team in Centrelink's National Support Office provides direction and support for these officers and other external stakeholders including the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner
  • Reminding employees regularly of privacy and confidentiality requirements by conducting ongoing privacy awareness sessions with all employees, sending out privacy advices, distributing privacy job aids, privacy training module and videos, and using screensavers and other screen based messages to promote key privacy issues
  • Implementing a privacy compliance regime to ensure that employees and Centrelink procedures continue to comply with privacy and confidentially legislation. Access to both the customer and employee database is logged. New initiatives and technologies are assessed to ensure privacy enhancing practices and technologies are implemented
  • Including the requirement to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of customer information in the Centrelink Customer Charter.

Key APS Value

The APS has the highest ethical standards. (s. 10(1)(d) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

JASON SHIMITRAS
PHONE 02 6212 0456

Case study 34: Department of Defence: Leadership in the Defence Materiel Organisation

Background

Quantum is a leader development program for Executive Level 1s and 2s and their military equivalents in the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO). It began in April 2002 and was developed to support values-based leadership within the DMO.

Description

Quantum comprises five modules spread over a 12-month period. Each module has a key theme: Leader as Person, Leader as Change Agent, Leader as Strategist, Leader as Tactician, and Leader as Activist. Within these themes, the content of Quantum has been developed to meet DMO's business needs. It includes topics such as business acumen, managing partnerships and political acumen. Each intake of Quantum is assigned an independent learning adviser who works with the group for the program's duration. Additionally, a member of the DMO executive works as a program mentor and helps to facilitate the integration of program learning with the organisation's work. The program's structure is sequential with an emphasis on building a dynamic network among participants.

Quantum is delivered through a combination of expert facilitators, guest speakers and in-house presenters.

The program is designed to help participants to:

  • review their leadership skills and practices
  • identify areas for development, and understand the organisational context of their outputs
  • adopt strategies for workplace implementation of new learning.

The program content is consistent with the capabilities of the Senior Executive Leadership Capability Framework.

Quantum is evaluated on a continuous basis using a variety of tools, including focus groups with participants. The program has been adjusted as a result, with generally positive evaluations of the programs run to date. A comprehensive evaluation is planned for March 2004 when five programs will have been completed.

Key APS Value

The APS has leadership of the highest quality. (s. 10(1)(h) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

KEVIN PATRICK
PHONE 02 6265 6466

Case study 35: Centrelink: Learning and development

Background

One of the goals outlined in Centrelink's Future Directions is to provide employees with the tools, knowledge and business intelligence they need to work effectively.

Centrelink's approach to learning and development is guided by its National Learning Strategy 2002-05. The approach is competency-based with the Centrelink Virtual College registered as a training organisation under the Australian Quality Training Framework. The college is an in-house team of specialists who deliver nationally recognised training to employees.

Description

Centrelink provides access to accredited learning programs and other learning opportunities within a framework that maximises existing skills and knowledge, meets individual, organisational and community needs and recognises achievement.

Key features of Centrelink's strategy are:

  • alignment of learning priorities with the business plan
  • a national induction program including the APS Values and ethics
  • the development of a learning management system as a single organisation-wide database to manage learning and development operations
  • integration of learning and development with recruitment and other people management strategies
    • people are recruited primarily for personal qualities and skilled up internally
    • individual learning plans are linked to performance assessment, and attainment of qualifications linked to pay
  • competency-based, accredited training with nationally recognised qualifications
    • ethics is a component of the government stream of competencies
  • the development of a career pathways map for the organisation which plots typical career and qualification pathways across the three Centrelink work streams (customer service, business services, and information and technology) and through to SES jobs
  • structured learning time, learning through a range of mediums and experiences including satellite distance learning that integrates video, voice and data
  • development of a strategy to evaluate learning to the level of change in behaviour in the workplace and return on investment
  • exchange development programs-there is an inbound/outbound suite of programs organised between the Network and National Support Office.

Future work includes a project to link all technical learning (i.e. program, payment and service specific training) to an accredited framework, and the development of a capability model linked to Centrelink's future workforce needs. This will also be based on an accredited model.

Key APS Values

The APS is a career-based service to enhance the effectiveness and cohesion of Australia's democratic system of government. (s. 10(1)(n) of the PS Act)

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

ANTHONY TYRREL
PHONE 02 6244 5698

Case study 36: Department of Transport and Regional Services: Learning and development

Background

The Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) is committed to a values-based approach to managing its people and strongly encourages workplace behaviours consistent with APS Values and departmental values. This is reflected in people management policies and systems, including learning and development.

Continual learning is important in any organisation to achieve results and provide staff with challenging and interesting careers. DOTARS recognises that in order to achieve its vision of a high performing organisation and a great place to work it needs to have a strong focus on achieving results for stakeholders and clients, and on developing staff. DOTARS' Investor in People (IiP) accreditation is evidence of its commitment to improving performance to achieve business goals through developing people.

Description

The Secretary's Statement of Future Skills Requirements was launched in 2001 to articulate to staff the focus on learning and development in DOTARS over the following three years. This document is reviewed annually.

The statement provides the basis for developing and promoting agency-wide learning and development programs, and helps line managers and individuals make choices about appropriate learning and development activities.

The philosophy behind the statement is to:

  • ensure that learning and development achieves the best results for DOTARS, its employees, clients and stakeholders
  • recognise that both formal and informal learning are necessary to improve performance
  • ensure that both managers and employees take responsibility for their development needs and career aspirations
  • ensure learning and development fits in with DOTARS' performance review cycle and business objectives.

The intranet gives staff access to a user-friendly learning and development site that:

  • provides staff with on-site access to DOTARS' preferred training providers such as the APS Commission, the National Training Register and Australian universities
  • provides access to information on other learning and development initiatives such as Studybank, the mentoring program, executive coaching, the Senior Women in Management program, the Career Development Assessment Centre, Leading in DOTARS and career development for women
  • enables staff to book some courses online, such as IT courses.

To evaluate its learning and development strategies, DOTARS has integrated IiP criteria into staff surveys and performance management. An annual audit acts as a regular benchmarking exercise and helps managers focus on the effective management of learning and development in the agency, and the contribution learning and development makes to achieving business outcomes.

DOTARS places a high importance on making a clear commitment to staff development. This is reflected in a commitment to learning and development, a comprehensive Studybank scheme and an ongoing commitment to maintaining IiP accreditation. The organisation's accreditation as an Investor in People is indicative of its level of commitment to staff development and linking individual development to achieving business outcomes.

Good practice points:

  • there is a focus on establishing a learning culture
  • there is an established process (IiP indicators) for evaluating learning and development.

Key APS Values

The APS is a career-based service to enhance the effectiveness and cohesion of Australia's democratic system of government. (s. 10(1)(n) of the PS Act)

The APS focuses on achieving results and managing performance. (s. 10(1)(k) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

ALAN CLEARY
PHONE 02 6274 6148

Case study 37: Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia: Sharing bankruptcy policy responsibility

Background

The Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA) became an Executive Agency within the Attorney-General's portfolio in July 2000. Arrangements were made in May 2002 for responsibility for bankruptcy policy to be shared jointly by ITSA and the Attorney-General's Department (AGD). These arrangements enable the minister to draw upon the policy development and advising expertise of the portfolio department as well as ITSA's subject matter expertise and its close relations with the industry sector.

Description

ITSA and AGD have a formal agreement documenting how these arrangements will work. Submissions are only made to the minister following consultation between ITSA and AGD. Issues are generally initiated by ITSA with input sought from the department at an early stage. In relation to nominated large-scale policy development activities, AGD and ITSA are both heavily involved in designing the process and doing the work.

The arrangements also cover ministerial correspondence on bankruptcy policy matters-the replies are generally drafted by ITSA and cleared with AGD.

There are regular liaison meetings between ITSA and AGD and also with the minister's office which include discussion about how these arrangements are working.

Key APS Values

The APS is a career-based service to enhance the effectiveness and cohesion of Australia's democratic system of government. (s. 10(1)(n) of the PS Act)

The APS has leadership of the highest quality. (s. 10(1)(h) of the PS Act)

The APS is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner. (s. 10(1)(a) of the PS Act)

The APS is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public. (s. 10(1)(e) of the PS Act)

The APS is responsive to the government in providing frank, honest, comprehensive, accurate and timely advice and in implementing the government's policies and programs. (s. 10(1)(f) of the PS Act)

For more information please contact:

DAVID BERGMAN
PHONE 02 6270 3434