APS Hierarchy and Classification Review
The independent APS Hierarchy and Classification Review provides advice to the APS Commissioner on ways the APS could streamline management and adopt best practice ways of working to:
- reduce hierarchy
- improve decision-making
- bring together the right expertise and resources.
It arose from a recommendation of the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service
The review was conducted in 2021 by an independent panel, comprised of Dr Heather Smith PSM, Ms Kathryn Fagg AO FTSE and Mr Finn Pratt AO PSM.
The independent review report was released on 26 August 2022.
The independent review makes 8 recommendations for the APS Commissioner to consider:
- Modernise and simplify the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 from 13 to 8 classifications, with Secretaries retaining flexibility to structure their organisations to optimise business needs.
- Refer to people’s roles by descriptive job titles, rather than numerical classifications.
- Enable progression for people within classifications through fair and transparent assessment driven by proficiency, skills development and workforce planning.
- Recognise specialists for the value of their work within the new classification framework.
- The Secretaries Board to implement spans of control for senior management roles generally within the range of 8-10 direct reports, consistent with contemporary organisational design.
- Invest urgently in the capability of future leaders, particularly the EL2/Manager cohort, and mandate management and leadership training for all staff with supervisory responsibility.
- Strengthen the role of the APS Commissioner as the Chief People Officer for APS people management.
- The Secretaries Board to adopt and model a Charter of Leadership Behaviours for APS leaders to promote collaborative and team-based behaviours.
How the APS is acting on review findings
The APS will act on many of the review’s findings but will not make changes to classifications at this stage.
Instead, the APS is taking measured steps towards more modern structures and ways of working, guided by the issues raised in the review.
Read the APS Commissioner’s media statement for more information about how the APS is acting on the review’s findings.
The first priority is work on culture and capability recommendations. Work is well underway.
- Secretaries have released a new Charter of Leadership Behaviours, which illustrates what great leadership should look like in a modern APS
- The APSC will lead further exploration on ways of working to address the review’s finding on hierarchy and risk culture. This will be informed by further engagement with staff, stakeholders and APS agencies
- The APS Academy is co-designing an approach to bolster the capability development offering for managers, focusing initially on EL2s
- The APSC will look at the review’s findings on attracting and retaining talent, particularly those staff with specialist skills. This will be informed by further engagement with staff, stakeholders and APS agencies
- The APSC will update guidance on Optimal Management Structures to address issues raised in the review, and will look at ways to help agencies adjust their structures sensibly and flexibly over time
The APSC will ask for input from agencies, staff and stakeholders to inform this work.
Register your interest in future consultation opportunities by using the feedback form below.
Feedback form - Share your views
The APSC is looking at how best to act on the findings of the independent APS Hierarchy and Classification Review, with work to be done around:
- Culture and ways of working
- Leadership ability
- Arrangements for specialist staff
- How APS agencies structure themselves
We would like to connect with staff, agencies and stakeholders to inform this work.
Share your view and register your interest in taking part in future consultation opportunities here .
The feedback form will be available until 31 October 2022.
About the review
An independent panel was appointed to oversee the review, bringing a wealth of experience and understanding of the APS operating environment. The panel was comprised of Dr Heather Smith PSM, Ms Kathryn Fagg AO FTSE and Mr Finn Pratt AO PSM. The review examined SES and non‑SES classification levels against best practice and emerging workforce needs. You can read more on the Terms of Reference page.
The panel was supported by the Commission’s project team to carry out strategic engagement and to draw on domestic and international learnings – including lessons from the APS’s role in supporting the Government’s response to COVID-19.
The review process included extensive consultation including with APS staff and their representatives, APS agencies and representatives from state and territory governments, international jurisdictions and the private sector.
A public submission process in mid-2021 received 105 contributions over a four week period.
Most of the submissions received came from individuals, largely employees of the Australian Public Service. Submissions were also received from a number of government entities and staff associations.
Authors chose if they wanted their submission to be published, and were also able to request anonymity (i.e. that their name not be published with the submission).
Submissions were checked for privacy requirements in our terms and conditions. Some were published with personal information or third party references redacted.
The submissions published on this page are owned by the relevant organisations and individuals, and as such they are responsible for the factual accuracy of these documents at the time of publishing. The views contained in these submissions represent the views of the authors and are not necessarily those of the APSC or the Australian Government.
Submissions can be viewed via Converlens APS Hierarchy and Classification Review Submissions - APS Hierarchy and Classification Review.
Thank you to everyone who made a submission to the APS Hierarchy and Classification Review. Your experiences and ideas were invaluable to the panel in preparing their recommendations.