During 2014−15, the Commission continued to work with APS agencies to strengthen their capability to respond to the government's agenda. Our key areas of focus have been initiatives to deliver a smaller, more flexible APS. These include modernising and streamlining our industrial relations framework, managing a reduction in APS staffing numbers, and developing the leadership cadre of the APS.
In my first six months as Commissioner, I have set out an agenda for APS reform.
First, it is about getting the basics right. Effective management of performance and attendance is critical to the APS meeting its challenges. It will also build community and government confidence in the APS.
Second, our employment framework must be contemporary and reflect community standards. Streamlined enterprise agreements are a key part of this, as are flexible and modern approaches to hiring, developing and, where necessary, reducing our workforce.
Third, I have placed a heavy emphasis on developing talent within the APS, and extending our engagement with non-government sectors. Mobility across, to and from the APS is fundamental to a capable, well-balanced and representative public service.
Finally, reducing red tape by streamlining processes and removing unnecessary administrative burdens is an essential reform. It underpins a more efficient, effective and productive APS.
Significant progress has been made over the course of this year in many of these areas, although much remains to be achieved.
Agencies across the APS have developed enterprise agreements that better reflect community standards. Restrictive practices and unnecessary processes have been removed, allowing employers and staff to focus on core entitlements. The agreements exhibit improved clarity and support more agile, flexible organisations.
Targeted reductions in APS numbers, and the maintenance of long-term capability through strong graduate and diversity programs, have positioned the APS as a high-performing organisation into the future. At 31 December 2014, the APS headcount had reduced by 14,414 since the introduction of interim recruitment arrangements in late 2013.
The Commission continued to invest in building capability across all APS levels. The final talent development program for the Senior Executive Service Band 1 commenced. A fresh suite of APS core skills programs became available.
We completed a program of independent capability reviews. The program provided 24 agencies with forward-looking assessments of their organisational strengths and opportunities to improve. We continue to assist agencies as they take action to meet future objectives and challenges.
The commitment of APS employees and the willingness of agencies to collaborate with the Commission are appreciated. What we put in place now can have far-reaching benefits for our workforce in terms of delivering quality outcomes for government, business and the community.
I acknowledge the significant contribution of my predecessor, Stephen Sedgwick AO―particularly in relation to his vision and leadership of APS reform.
The Commission met its deliverables and key performance indicators for 2014−15. I am also pleased to report that the Commission continued to achieve its outcomes within its given financial resources.
Outlook for 2015−16
We will continue to support a flexible, efficient and high-performing APS. In the coming year the Commission will focus on modernising the APS employment framework. I consider that the current employment framework operates as a constraint to creating a modern, flexible, efficient and high-performing APS.
We will also work with agencies to boost the capability of human resource managers. Managers focus too much on transactions and not enough on workforce improvement strategy. Initiatives to improve the professionalism of human resource management in the public sector will be introduced.
Performance management, learning, development and talent management, and APS workplace bargaining will continue to be areas of focus and attention.
Internally, we will continue to refine our organisation so that it is best positioned to deliver our improvement strategy. Our objective will be to offer expertise to assist and facilitate outcomes, rather than concentrate on compliance. We will continue to promote integrity and accountability as values that underpin the work and conduct of the APS.