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Commission overview

The Australian Public Service Commission is a central agency within the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio. The Commission supports two statutory office holders: the Public Service Commissioner—who is also agency head—and the Merit Protection Commissioner. Their functions are set out in sections 41(1) and 50(1), respectively, of the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act).


The Hon Gary Gray AO MP served as Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity until 25 March 2013. The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP was appointed Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity on 25 March 2013.

Role and responsibilities

Our vision is to lead and shape a unified, high-performing Australian Public Service (APS). The statutory responsibilities of the Public Service Commissioner that support our vision are detailed in the PS Act and include:

  • evaluating the extent to which agencies incorporate and uphold the APS Values
  • evaluating the adequacy of systems and procedures in agencies for ensuring compliance with the APS Code of Conduct
  • promoting the APS Values and Code of Conduct
  • developing, promoting, reviewing and evaluating APS employment policies and practices
  • facilitating continuous improvement in people management throughout the APS
  • coordinating and supporting APS-wide training and career development
  • contributing to and fostering leadership in the APS
  • providing advice and assistance on public service matters to agencies on request.

The Commission is responsible for Australian Government policies for agreement-making, classification structures, APS pay and employment conditions, work-level standards and workplace relations advice. Through the strengthened Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework, the Commission encourages agencies to develop a more consistent approach to common terms and conditions of employment for APS employees when negotiating enterprise agreements, in order to support the aim of moving towards one APS.

Outcome and program structure

The Commission’s outcome is increased awareness and adoption of best practice public administration by the public service through leadership, promotion, advice and professional development, drawing on research and evaluation.

In 2012–13, the Commission worked to achieve its outcome through two programs:

  • 1.1: Australian Public Service Commission
  • 1.2: Parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements.

Program 1.1 had three components:

  • 1.1.1: APS people and organisational performance
  • 1.1.2: Investing in APS development and capability
  • 1.1.3: Australian Government employment workplace relations.

The Public Service Commissioner makes available staff to assist the Merit Protection Commissioner to perform her prescribed functions. The annual report of the Merit Protection Commissioner follows the appendices to this report.

The Commission also provides secretariat support to the Remuneration Tribunal and the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal. The Remuneration Tribunal, under its own legislation, is required to prepare and furnish to the Minister a report on its operations, which is provided separately. The Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal, while not required under legislation, reports on its annual activities on its website.

The Commissioner’s financial statements include the activities of the Commissioner, the Merit Protection Commissioner and the tribunals.

Corporate structure

The Executive

A five-person Executive, consisting of the Australian Public Service Commissioner, the Merit Protection Commissioner, the Deputy Public Service Commissioner, the Chief Human Capital Officer and the Special Advisor Indigenous Engagement, led the Commission in 2012–13.

Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO

Australian Public Service Commissioner

Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO was appointed as Australian Public Service Commissioner under section 45 of the PS Act. His five-year term began on 14 December 2009.

Mr Sedgwick has served in a number of departments beginning in 1972. He was Secretary to the Commonwealth departments of Finance, Employment and Education between 1992 and 2002, and was a member of the Board of the Asian Development Bank for five years until 2007. He became Public Service Commissioner after a period as Professor and Director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. He was awarded the Centenary Medal in January 2001 and was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in June 2012.

Mr Sedgwick graduated with honours in economics from the University of Sydney and holds a master’s degree from the University of London (London School of Economics and Political Science).

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Policy at the Australian National University (ANU), and is a member of a number of boards and advisory groups. These include the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation, the Advisory Council of the ANU Crawford School of Economics and Government, the Advisory Board for the Australian National Institute for Public Policy, the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management, the Advisory Group for the Australian Human Rights Commission Male Champions of Change Research Project, the Jawun Board, the Parliamentary ICT Advisory Board, and the Board for the Centre for Excellence in Public Sector Design.

Ms Annwyn Godwin

Merit Protection Commissioner

Ms Annwyn Godwin was appointed as Merit Protection Commissioner in January 2008 and reappointed for a second five-year term in 2013. Ms Godwin joined the public service in 1990 and has extensive experience in the corporate and staffing-related fields, including with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. During her early career, she worked in a wide variety of private sector agencies including the Australian Stock Exchange and PA Consulting.

Ms Godwin has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Melbourne with majors in Australian politics and history and a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ms Penny Weir

Acting Deputy Public Service Commissioner

Ms Penny Weir joined the Commission in late 2010 as head of the then Employment Frameworks Division. She was acting as Deputy Public Service Commissioner until her retirement.

Ms Weir has had an extensive private sector career, including with PricewaterhouseCoopers and in her own successful consulting business. Her public sector career has spanned social policy, implementation and corporate leadership roles over a period of 15 years. She was a member of the taskforce that set up the new agency arrangements in support of the Fair Work Act 2009 and wound up the Workplace Authority as part of implementing those arrangements. Most recently she established corporate support divisions for both the Workplace Authority and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. She has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy.

Mr Ian Fitzgerald

Chief Human Capital Officer

Mr Ian Fitzgerald joined the Commission in January 2011 as the Chief Human Capital Officer.

The Chief Human Capital Officer leads human capital thinking and knowledge development in the Commission and provides a resource for the Commission and agencies in dealing with human capital issues. The role includes overseeing human capital strategy development, reporting and associated benchmarking; the work of the Centre for Leadership and Learning; the Commission’s client engagement strategy; and agency capability reviews.

Mr Fitzgerald’s first career was in the justice sector, including delivery and policy lead roles in Australia and at the Home Office in London. More recently, he worked for Westpac for six years in various roles, including head of the overall People Strategy and Metrics function, head of Diversity, and other human resource director roles with the bank in Australia and New Zealand. He has a Bachelor of Science from the Australian National University and a Master of Business Administration from Macquarie Graduate School of Management.

Ms Kerrie Tim

Special Advisor Indigenous Engagement

Ms Kerrie Tim joined the Commission as Special Advisor Indigenous Engagement following a period working as a senior executive with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

A graduate of the University of Queensland, Ms Tim’s extensive experience in the public sector includes the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services and its predecessor, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the Australian Public Service Commission, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the departments of Education and Aboriginal Affairs. Ms Tim is a former Executive Director to the Queensland Government, having worked within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and before that in the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy.

Ms Tim’s international experience includes representing Australian governments in discussions in the Philippines, New Zealand, the United States and Canada, and leading peer counselling workshops on ending racism in South Africa, Israel and New Zealand.

Ms Tim is a member of the Australian Government’s National Anti-Racism Partnership, the Australian Public Service Indigenous Governance Network and the Indigenous Advisory Group to the Canberra Centenary.

Organisational structure

Eight groups, each led by a group manager, supported the functions of the Commission in 2012–13 and reported to the Executive. The Chief Human Capital Officer had direct oversight of the Centre for Leadership and Learning, the Human Capital Research and Evaluation Group and the Client Engagement Group. The Deputy Public Service Commissioner had responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of the Employment Policy and Participation and Workplace Relations groups and the Remuneration Tribunal Secretariat. The Merit Protection Commissioner had general oversight, in addition to her statutory responsibilities, of the Ethics and Corporate groups. Figure 1 shows the Commission’s organisational structure as at 30 June 2013.

Figure 1: Organisational structure as at 30 June 2013

Group functions

The Centre for Leadership and Learning was established within the Commission to ensure that the APS has a contemporary, systematic approach to learning and development, leadership development and talent management. The centre also has a role in supporting the Secretaries Board and the APS200 and reporting on whole-of-APS reform. It delivers learning and development opportunities across the APS, specialising in graduate development programs and APS 1–6, Executive Level and Senior Executive Service (SES) programs and events. The group manages the Commission’s registered training organisation.

During the year the Group was also responsible for the functions of the Indigenous Employment Team. These functions included the Pathways to Employment recruitment programs for Indigenous graduates, cadets and trainees and the Indigenous Liaison Officer function which provided employee and agency advice and support.

The Human Capital Research and Evaluation Group provides a focus for evidence-based thought leadership on human capital in order to position the Commission to lead and shape APS reform. The group maintains and develops capabilities in strategic human capital planning, human capital intelligence and foresight, human capital measurement and benchmarking, APS-wide workforce planning, and research and evaluation.

The Client Engagement Group has a lead role in implementing a number of the key APS reform projects that originate from the Ahead of the game: Blueprint for the reform of Australian Government administration report. This includes streamlining recruitment and improving induction—including the development of APSjobs—and strengthening performance management and mobility. The group leads the development of the Commission’s client engagement strategies, and manages international development programs throughout the Asia–Pacific region and Africa and the Commission’s regional engagements with Australia, including through the Australian Government Leadership Network. The group also has a key role in implementing strategic communications strategies for the organisation.

The Workplace Relations Group is responsible for Australian Government employment workplace relations policy and administration of the framework for agreement-making and remuneration and conditions.

The Employment Policy and Participation Group has responsibility for managing the SES cap and is responsible for implementing the outcomes of the Review of the Senior Executive Service. The group is also responsible for examining existing APS classification arrangements and work-level standards and provides advice on the legislative and policy framework that applies to APS employment. The group is also responsible for leading APS workforce participation strategies to meet the needs of the APS and broader government workforce participation objectives.

It develops policies and practices that are designed to improve the diversity of the APS workplace and engages with agencies to ensure that service-wide frameworks are implemented.

The Ethics Group advises on ethics and integrity in the APS, encouraging open, transparent and effective agency decision-making in accordance with the APS Values and Code of Conduct and supporting the review and inquiry functions of both the Public Service Commissioner and the Merit Protection Commissioner. The group provides an Ethics Advisory Service for the whole of the APS. For administrative purposes, the Commission’s legal services area operates within the group. However, in performing their role, legal advisers provide advice to the Public Service Commissioner and the Merit Protection Commissioner.

The Corporate Group underpins the operations of the Commission, providing assurance and governance on human capital management and workforce development; budget and financial management; property services; records management; ministerial and parliamentary services; and information and communications technology.

The Remuneration Tribunal Secretariat supports the operation of and provides secretariat services to the President and members of the Remuneration Tribunal. The tribunal is an independent statutory authority established under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 to inquire into, determine and report on, or provide advice about, the remuneration of public office holders within its jurisdiction.

Regional offices

The primary responsibility of each regional office is to engage and support agencies in identifying and dealing with organisational issues, assist with the integration of the reform agenda and foster leadership and people management networks across the APS.

The Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane offices have specific business responsibilities to support the Commission’s fee-for-service activities and review work.

Reports and publications

The Commission issues a range of APS leadership, learning and development materials in a variety of formats. Commission publications and circulars, as well as selected speeches given by the Commissioner, are available on the Commission’s website.


The Commission’s head office is in Canberra. It has regional offices in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Full addresses and contact details are available on the Commission’s website.

Funding and financial performance

The Commission’s activities are funded through a combination of appropriation and revenue generated through the sale of leadership services, learning and development training courses, employment-related and international assistance services and workplace relations activities. More than half of the Commission’s funding is provided by agencies—either on a fee-for-service basis or through subscrptions supported by a memorandum of understanding. Much of the Commission’s revenue is earned in a competitive market where agencies may choose the source and level of the services they need.

In 2012–13, the Commission received $23.20 million in departmental appropriation funding and own-source income of $29.04 million from the sale of goods and rendering of services.

The Commission’s operating result for 2012–13 was a surplus of $0.43 million (deficit of $0.73 million in 2011–12). The surplus is mainly due to careful management of the Commission’s budget, which will position the organisation to meet tighter government budgetary requirements in future years.

Payments of $59.32 million were made from the special appropriation for the parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements administered program ($49.60 million in 2011–12). The large year-on-year variation is due to the full-year impact of the adjustment in parliamentarians’ base salary, which was effective from March 2012.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018