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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 Mark Dreyfus QC MP served as Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity until 18 September 2013.

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz was appointed Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service on 18 September 2013.

Role and responsibilities

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

  • to strengthen the professionalism of the APS and facilitate continuous improvement in workforce management in the APS
  • to uphold high standards of integrity and conduct in the APS
  • to monitor, review and report on APS capabilities within and between agencies to promote high standards of accountability, effectiveness and performance.

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.

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 2013–14, 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.

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 to do so under legislation, reports annually on its 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 Australian Public Service Commissioner, the Chief Human Capital Officer and, until February 2014, the Special Advisor Indigenous Engagement, led the Commission in 2013–14.

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, was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in June 2012 and was awarded a National Fellowship of the Institute of Public Administration Australia in November 2013.

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 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 and the Parliamentary ICT Advisory Board.

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 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 various consulting firms.

Ms Godwin has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) 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 Stephanie Foster PSM

Deputy Australian Public Service Commissioner

Ms Stephanie Foster PSM was appointed as the Deputy Australian Public Service Commissioner on 3 October 2013. In this role, she supports the Australian Public Service Commissioner in leading and shaping a unified, high-performing APS.

Ms Foster joined the Commission from the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, where she had been since its inception as the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government in September 2010. Her areas of responsibility included regional policy and the arts.

Prior to that, Ms Foster was a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, where she had direct responsibility for local government and regional development, the Office of Northern Australia and the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

Ms Foster is a career public servant who has worked in the APS since joining the Department of Defence in 1987 as a graduate trainee. She spent 16 years in the intelligence community in a range of analytic and management positions and a further six years in Defence's international policy area. She was awarded a Public Service Medal in June 2008 for her policy support to Australian Defence Force deployments overseas. She has also been awarded the French decoration of Officier de l'Ordre National du Mérite for her work to develop defence relations between France and Australia.

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; and agency capability reviews. Mr Fitzgerald plays a lead role in the APS human resources community to promote the exchange of knowledge and build professional capabilities.

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 central 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 the 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 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 in 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 and the Australian Public Service Indigenous Governance Network. She was a member of the Indigenous Advisory Group to the Canberra Centenary.

In February 2014, Ms Tim moved to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to continue her work.

Organisational structure

Eight groups, each led by a group manager, supported the functions of the Commission in 2013–14 and reported to the Executive. The Chief Human Capital Officer had direct oversight of the Centre for Leadership and Learning and the Human Capital Research and Evaluation Group. The Deputy Public Service Commissioner had responsibility for oversight of the Client Engagement, 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 at 30 June 2014.

Figure 1: Organisational structure at 30 June 2014

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. It delivers learning and development opportunities across the APS, specialising in graduate development programs and APS 1–6, Executive Level and SES programs and events. The group manages the Commission's registered training organisation.

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 streamlining APS recruitment and improving and strengthening performance management. The group also has a key role in implementing strategic communications strategies for the Commission and managing international development programs throughout the Asia–Pacific region and in Africa.

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 of employment.

The Employment Policy and Participation Group has responsibility for managing the SES cap and implementing the outcomes of the review of the SES. 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 and the President and members of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal. The tribunals are independent statutory authorities. The Remuneration Tribunal was established to inquire into, determine and report on, or provide advice about, the remuneration of public office holders within its jurisdiction. The Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal was established to inquire into and determine the salaries and relevant allowances to be paid to members of the Australian Defence Force.

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. The Sydney office has additional responsibility for supporting the review work of the Merit Protection Commissioner.

Reports and publications

The Commission issues a range of APS leadership, learning and development materials in a variety of formats. The Commission's 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 subscriptions 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 2013–14, the Commission received $ 22.0 million in departmental appropriation funding and own-source income of $26.0 million from the sale of goods and rendering of services.

The Commission's operating result for 2013–14 was a deficit of $0.4 million (surplus of $0.4 million in 2012–13). The deficit is due to the impact of net cash funding for the departmental capital budget, where depreciation and amortisation expenses are no longer funded by a revenue appropriation. Excluding the factor of the net cash funding arrangement, the Commission delivered an operating surplus of $0.3 million as a result of prudent management of its financial resources. Payments of $60.7 million were made from the special appropriation for the parliamentarians' and judicial office holders' remuneration and entitlements administered program ($59.3 million in 2012–13).

Table 1 summarises the Commission's financial performance in 2013–14.

Table 1: Summary of financial performance, 2013–14
Budget estimate

($ million)*
Actual result

($ million)
* Full-year budget, including any subsequential adjustment made to the 2013–14 Budget.
Program 1.1: Australian Public Service Commission 50.2 48.5
Program 1.2: Parliamentarians' and judicial office holders' remuneration and entitlements 60.8 60.7
Total Outcome 1 111.0 109.2

Departmental expenses were $1.7 million (3%) lower than the budget estimate as the Commission managed its financial resources in line with lower than anticipated revenue from sale of goods and rendering of services. Administered expenses were $0.1 million (less than 1%) lower than the budget estimate due to levels of remuneration and entitlements for members being lower than projected.

Table 1 should be read in conjunction with Table A2: Expenses and resources for Outcome 1, 2013–14 (Appendix A).

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018