Go to top of page

Corporate goal 2: Build capability

Build capability


Improving the leadership capability of the APS

[Source of criteria: APSC Corporate Plan 2016–17, page 14; PBS 2016–17, page 113.]

Measure: Design a strategy for building the leadership capability the APS needs to position itself for the future.

Result: The Commission engaged in broad research and consultation to understand the leadership capability that the APS needs to position itself for the future. A leadership strategy toward 2030 is due for release in 2017.

Measure: Develop leadership in the APS by providing access to best-practice leadership programs.

Result: The Commission redeveloped the SES orientation program and the SES Band 2 leadership program to ensure they continued to be best-practice leadership programs. A Women in Leadership program was piloted, offering executive-level women an opportunity to strengthen their leadership identity, presence and practice. APS employees continued to have access to the existing Executive Level 2, SES Band 1 and SES Band 3 leadership programs.


Strengthening the system by improving core and management skills

[Source of criteria: APSC Corporate Plan 2016–17, page 14; PBS 2016–17, page 113.]

Measure: Refresh the priorities for core skills development across the APS, for endorsement by March 2017.

Result: The Commission thouroughly researched and consultated in order to understand the priorities for core skills development across the APS. A core skills strategy toward 2030 is due for release in 2017.

Measure: Work with APS agencies to design a core APS induction module. This will be piloted by April 2017.

Result: The APS induction portal is due for release in the second half of 2017.

Measure: By June 2017 introduce a range of career development and learning initiatives to improve professional public service skills, with a focus on policy and regulation.

Result: The practitioner-level program APS Regulatory Practitioners and Managers was released in January 2017. Initial research into the APS policy profession is complete. Consultation with policy professionals continues and a range of development tools are being considered.

Measure: Support the development of data literacy skills by introducing an APS data literacy program by October 2016.

Result: The Data Literacy Learning Guide was published in August 2016. Work is under way to develop a suite of learning programs that align with the framework outlined in the guide.


Driving a more systematic approach to talent management

[Source of criteria: APSC Corporate Plan 2016–17, page 15.]

Measure: Support cross-APS talent councils, providing coordination and advisory services.

Result: The Commission supported the Secretaries Talent Council and the Deputy Secretaries Talent Council. Assistance and advice were provided to the cross-APS Indigenous Talent Council.

Measure: Expand the range of options available to support talent development—including immersive learning experiences and academic study.

Result: An expanded range of options is available to support talent development—including secondments and academic study.

Measure: Introduce an APS guide and toolkit for managing secondments by November 2016.

Result: The Commission released an APS guide and toolkit for managing secondments in December 2016.

Measure: Support APS agencies in implementing best-practice talent management.

Result: The Commission continued to support a Talent Working Group, bringing together practitioners from across the APS to share experiences and best practice. In the first half of 2017 an Executive Level Identification Tool was piloted in five agencies; the tool supports effective talent management with meaningful data.

Measure: Evaluate talent management initiatives.

Result: The Commission evaluates cross-APS SES talent management initiatives at the end of the relevant assessment round. In the longer term, our evaluations will reveal details of retention and movement trends and the use of talent pools to fill key future roles.


Strengthening international cooperation and partnerships in the Asia–Pacific region on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

[Source of criterion: APSC Corporate Plan 2016–17, page 15.]

Measure: Undertake activities to build the public administration capacity of public servants in the Asia–Pacific region in line with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s strategic priorities.

Result: During 2016–17 the Commission successfully delivered projects aimed at improving public administration and governance in the Asia–Pacific region under the auspices of the Australian government aid program.


Performance analysis—corporate goal 2

The Commission continued to build leadership capability, improve core and management skills and embed talent management in the APS.

Improving the leadership capability of the APS

APS leadership programs continue to be upgraded to ensure that they are building the desired capability. The SES orientation program was redeveloped in late 2016 and piloted in February 2017. The program now includes a one-day simulation activity focused on SES accountability and decision making and a future scenario planning exercise. The redeveloped program is showing strong results.

A pilot of the redeveloped SES Band 2 leadership program began in November 2016 and will finish in August 2017. This program focuses on strengthening skills in systems thinking and working across boundaries. It now includes a three-day immersive activity during which participants engage with leaders in a regional community, learning about the implications of government policies at the local level.

The Commission continued to expand its leadership development offerings. In May 2017 a pilot Women in Leadership program for executive-level employees began. The program is designed to strengthen participants’ leadership identity, presence and practice.

In 2016–17 we held about 50 events focused on promoting greater engagement among employees across departments and agencies and positioning the APS workforce for the future. About 4,000 employees participated in the events, which included conferences and information sharing and training sessions. The events fell into one of three streams:

  • APS-wide. This event stream is hosted in Canberra and gives APS staff from all levels an opportunity to hear from and engage with high-profile public and private sector executives.  The aim is to give staff exposure to experiences and insights and create new networks that will help grow and support future leaders in the APS.
  • Graduates. This stream hosts four events for APS graduates each calendar year. The events focus on building knowledge of current APS concerns, collaborating to identify solutions and establishing strong networks with colleagues from other departments and agencies. In 2017 we hosted our second successful GradHack. Graduates worked in small teams with people they did not know to ‘hack out’ a solution to a real APS challenge and pitch it to executives within a three-hour period.
  • The Australian Government Leadership Network. The network focuses on engagement of APS staff located outside Canberra and provides opportunities for staff in regional offices to network through events and a conference series. The conference series is a day-long event in each state capital city. In 2017 the Commission also introduced a conference in Townsville. The purpose of the conferences is to provide a forum for leaders in the APS to exchange ideas, hear from prominent speakers, share knowledge and contribute to the development of public sector initiatives. Connections events are hosted in each state capital city and provide an opportunity for small groups of APS staff to hear from SES representatives about priorities and initiatives across the APS.

Strengthening the system by improving core and management skills

The APS Management in Action program was released for agency use in May 2017. It uses scenario-based learning to build skills in the use of management authority to achieve business outcomes.

During 2016–17 the Commission continued to provide a range of core and management skills programs, delivering 184 core skills programs to the APS. Evaluation data showed consistently high results for the value and relevance of the programs, with capability shifts ranging from 15 to 60 per cent across the range of programs.

To date 29 core skills learning programs have been developed for use by agencies. A biennial review program has been implemented, and 10 core skills programs were reviewed and updated for currency and continuous improvement in 2016–17.

Core skills program materials continue to be available to agencies on Govdex. The agencies have a range of options for delivering programs, including obtaining quality-assured providers from the Commission’s Learning and Development Panel.

Driving a more systematic approach to talent management

The Commission is supporting talent management throughout the APS, including by providing support for the Secretaries Talent Council and the Deputy Secretaries Talent Council. This work is creating a diverse pipeline of future leaders for crucial roles in the APS. Those seen to have the greatest potential are supported in gaining access to development opportunities—including targeted mobility and job experiences designed to accelerate development.

At a system level, the Commission continued working to change thinking from talent development to talent management. In 2016–17 an Executive Level Identification Tool was piloted in six agencies. The tool supports effective talent management by providing meaningful data on which to base decisions. The Commission is working with agencies to determine the best approach for introducing use of the tool—including assessing organisational readiness for talent discussions and considering how the tool might complement other agency talent management initiatives.

Strengthening international cooperation and partnerships in the Asia–Pacific region on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

On behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, during 2016–17 the Commission continued to work to strengthen public administration and governance in the Asia–Pacific region.

It supported the Indonesian Government with the implementation of its 2014 Civil Service Law and hosted a one-month visit to Australia by two Indonesian officials and two one-week visits by senior delegations. We also delivered merit selection workshops in Indonesia for more than 150 officials who sit on SES selection panels.

In November 2016 the APS Commissioner visited Jakarta, where he discussed public sector reform priorities in Australia and Indonesia with the Indonesian Vice-President and Minister for Bureaucratic Reform and delivered the keynote address at a dialogue on bureaucratic reform for 150 senior government officials at the vice-presidential palace.

In Papua New Guinea the Commission worked with the Department of Personnel Management to strengthen high-level engagement and information sharing between the two organisations and provided support for PNG’s hosting of the annual Pacific Public Service Commissioners’ Conference. We also partnered with CIT Solutions to design and deliver a Diploma of Government to 40 PNG public service leaders from national and provincial levels of government. Additionally, we delivered a Diploma of Training Design and Development to eight staff in the PNG Institute of Public Administration to improve the organisation’s internal design and develop appropriate, targeted training. Further technical support was provided to increase compliance within the institute and to assist in the development of a new suite of training products for the PNG  Public Service.

In Samoa the Commission delivered a workshop to plan the implementation of machinery-of-government changes and contributed to a forum for public sector chief executive officers, helping  to progress the Samoan Prime Minister’s public service reform agenda.

We hosted 13 delegations from 11 different countries during the reporting year.

Reviewing capability

The Commission completed a ‘health check’ of the Department of Health at the start of 2016–17. Robyn Kruk was engaged to lead the health check and identify changes in the department’s organisational capability since the original capability review was conducted in 2014. The health check was conducted over eight weeks, with a team jointly staffed by the Commission and the department. The final report on the check provided valuable information about the department’s success in implementing change since the original review and the areas warranting continuing attention.