Capability Review Program
As part of its ambitious and enduring plan for Australian Public Service (APS) reform, the Government has committed to a pilot Capability Review program. Reflecting the recommendations of the Independent Review of the APS, the Government’s capability reviews will be short, sharp and future-focused. This approach will accommodate both individual agency reviews and cross-cutting thematic reviews based on government priorities. The assessment of capability will provide a robust evidence base to identify opportunities for service-wide reform.
The Capability Review program will aim to:
- embed a culture of continuous improvement across the APS; and
- ensure agencies can deliver government priorities and outcomes for Australians.
Three pilot capability reviews will commence in 2022. These will focus on building the capability of individual agencies:
- Australian Public Service Commission (APSC);
- Department of Health and Aged Care; and
- Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.
One broader review of capability across a number of agencies, focused on Australia’s response to national emergencies, will commence in 2023. A review of the pilot will inform advice on an ongoing and permanent program of reviews.
The APSC previously administered a program of capability reviews from 2010 to 2016, with reviews commencing in 2011. These reviews provided a service-wide understanding of organisational capability. In the absence of a regular program there has been no comparable, sustained assessment of agency capability across the APS. Reinstating capability reviews will ensure that the APS is building and maintaining the right capabilities to respond to challenges now and in the future.
Capability reviews are independent, forward-looking and assess an agency's ability to meet future objectives and challenges. They aim to facilitate discussions around an agency’s desired future state, highlight organisational capability gaps and identify opportunities to address them.
They are an investment in long-term capability and an opportunity to focus on strengths and development areas in the context of the anticipated future operating environment. Reviews are conducted in partnership with agencies, complement existing initiatives within agencies, and provide an independent evidence base for further targeted change.
A number of international jurisdictions have also engaged in reviews of their public sector capability, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.
Capability reviews will apply a consistent framework. This provides a structured approach and is critical to ensuring that entities are assessed against comparable standards, which will enable the sharing of best practice and support the identification of common themes.
To ensure transparency, independence and accountability, each review is led by a Senior Review Team including:
- Independent Reviewers – eminent individuals with a strong understanding of the public sector operating environment and an appreciation of how organisations can build capability; and
- Senior APS Reviewers – current APS Band 3 SES officers from agencies other than those being reviewed.
The Senior Review Team is supported throughout the review process by a small team of APSC officers.
The Senior Review Team works closely with senior agency executives on the capability review, the findings of which are set out in a report delivered to the APS Commissioner. Following reviews, agencies develop and implement action plans to raise capability.
Agency reports and action plans will be made publically available on the APSC’s website. Agencies will report their progress against the action plan through their Annual Report.
Previous APS Capability Reviews
In 2011, the Government commenced a program of periodic external reviews of organisational capability for each department and three major agencies (Australian Taxation Office, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and Australian Bureau of Statistics).
In November 2012, Capability Review reports were released for the following four departments:
- Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Department of Immigration and Citizenship
- Department of Human Services
- Department of Infrastructure and Transport
In July 2013, the Capability Review report for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Capability Review was released.
On 18 September 2013, changes were made to the administrative arrangements for the Australian Public Service. The nine Capability Review reports available below were completed prior to these changes:
- Department of Finance and Deregulation
- Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport
- Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- Australian Taxation Office
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
- Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
- Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism
These reports were released in December 2013.
The following reports were released in December 2014:
- IP Australia
- Department of Veterans' Affairs
- Australian Bureau of Statistics
- Attorney-General's Department
- Department of Health
The following reports were released during 2015: