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Key message

It is expected that Machinery of Government changes will be implemented as quickly as possible to support the Government's priorities, with a focus on achieving the best outcomes for the Australian community across the whole of government.

Executive summary


1. The Government expects Machinery of Government (MoG) changes to be implemented cooperatively and in a timely manner.

2. The Prime Minister may specify a date by which a MoG change is to be completed. Agency heads involved in the MoG change are responsible for meeting this deadline and for implementing MoG changes in accordance with the principles outlined in this guide.

3. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), the Department of Finance (Finance) the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) will set milestones, as appropriate, to assist agencies with their planning.

4. Agencies are encouraged to appoint an independent facilitator to manage the MoG process, facilitate negotiations and to help resolve contested issues.

5. It is good practice to complete a thorough due diligence exercise within the first five to ten days to identify complex issues early. As soon as it is apparent that a MoG is complex, an independent facilitator should be appointed to lead a cross-agency committee.

6. An independent facilitator must be appointed if critical milestones are not being met.

7. The sharing of all relevant information between agencies to inform the due diligence process is paramount to a speedy MoG change.

8. A risk management approach will be required to avoid letting relatively minor issues delay negotiations.

Dispute resolution

9. It is expected that agency heads and Secretaries of the respective portfolio Departments will step in to reach a decision where agencies cannot resolve a matter at the working level.

10. It is important to advise PM&C, Finance and the APSC of any delays in finalising negotiations. They must be advised if established timeframes may not be met. If appropriate, Finance and the APSC will manage milestones and mediate between the affected entities.

11. Finance will mediate in relation to financial matters and the APSC will mediate on the staffing matters if agencies are unable to reach agreement within the established timeframe.

12. If a matter still remains unresolved and timeframes look in doubt, the matter must be escalated to a committee chaired by the Secretary of PM&C and comprising the Secretary of Finance and the Australian Public Service Commissioner.

13. Affected agencies will be informed of the protocols for taking matters to the Committee once it is clear that escalation is likely.

14. If necessary, Finance may transfer funds and the Australian Public Service Commissioner may transfer staff without the agreement of agencies.


15. The following principles apply to implementing MoG changes:

  1. Taking a whole-of-government approach
    • Good faith negotiations
    • Open and honest identification of resource implications
    • Timely and accurate exchange of information
  2. Constructive and open communication with staff
    • Early advice and assistance to staff
    • Consultation—employees have opportunities to contribute to the implementation process within the boundaries of Government decisions
    • Acting with integrity
  3. Accountability and compliance with legislation and policy
    • Ensure adequate records management.
    • Follow established procedural frameworks, such as the 'staff follow function'; 'finances follow function'; and 'obligations follow function' while taking account of reforms such as shared services.
      These procedural frameworks apply to MoG changes irrespective of any historical budget decisions. Staff and annual appropriations devoted to a function at the point of the MoG change are to be transferred to the gaining agency. Gaining entities are to accept the obligations that are connected with the staff and annual appropriations being transferred.

Guidance for agencies

16. Implementation guidelines are at the links at the top of this page.

Defined Terms

  1. Agency/Entity – has the same meaning as corporate Commonwealth entity and non-corporate Commonwealth entity within the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

More information

18. More information about:

  1. governance arrangements is available from the Department of Finance at pmra [at] finance.gov.au
  2. financial management is available from the Department of Finance at annual.appropriations [at] finance.gov.au
  3. people management is available from the Australian Public Service Commission at staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au