A history of reporting on the State of the Service
Reporting on the state of the Australian Public Service—known as the Commonwealth Public Service from 1901 to 1973—dates back almost to Federation. The first report, written by the then Public Service Commissioner, Duncan McLachlan, was published in 1904. Back then, Section 11 of the Public
Service Act 1902 required the Commissioner to report annually on 'the condition and efficiency of the public service'.
The SOSR was undertaken under provision 12 of the Public Service Regulations for the 1997 to 1999 period and under Section 44 of the Public Service Act 1999 (the Act) from 1999–2000 onwards. The SOSR is tabled before parliament as part of the Commissioner's requirement to evaluate the: (a) extent to which agencies incorporate the APS Values; and (b) adequacy of systems and procedures in agencies for ensuring compliance
with the Code of Conduct.
The first SOSR was produced by the Public Service & Merit Protection Commission for the financial year 1997–98 and tabled in Parliament in November 1998. The report was published at a time when the APS was undergoing considerable change—a new Financial Management and Accountability
Act, the introduction of a performance improvement cycle, Client Service Charters were compulsory for the first time in the 1997–98 financial year, and the Workplace Relations Act 1996 gave employers scope to use individual workplace agreements in place of collective agreements. Both employers
and employees alike had been adjusting to this method of bargaining during the year. It was against this backdrop that the SOSR discussed the progress made in adapting to these changes and the focus on future challenges for the APS.
Since then the SOSR has continued to document the changes, challenges, strengths and capability of the APS.