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Machinery of Government changes: A guide

Key message

A MoG change can lead to the creation of a new Australian Public Service (APS) agency operating under the Public Service Act 1999.

1. Agencies are expected to implement change in a way that is consistent with the principles outlined in the Executive Summary.

2. This page provides additional information for agencies when functions, staff and resources are moved from an Australian Public Service (APS) agency, or a non-APS Commonwealth agency, to a newly created Department or APS agency.

3. As soon as a new APS agency is proposed, responsible officers are encouraged to consult the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) and the Department of Finance (Finance).

4. Newly created agencies will need the support of Portfolio Departments. Assistance could include lending staff to assist in the establishment of the agency, for example staff with expertise in corporate functions.

New departments – urgent action

5. This section outlines urgent action that may be required when a new department is created.

Transfer of Funding

6. The timing of the transfer of funding to a newly created department will be dependent on where the department's function have originated.

Department receives functions from an abolished department

7. The new department cannot rely on the abolished department's appropriation.

8. An interim transfer of appropriations must occur before midnight on the day the department is abolished, to enable valid appropriation coverage for any payments that have been made that day, or that need to be made the next day.

9. Contact the Department of Finance's Annual Appropriations Team at AMTMail [at] finance.gov.au if your department is impacted.

Department receives function from an existing department

10. The gaining department is able to rely on the losing agency's appropriation.

11. The Accountable Authority of the gaining department should issue written instructions to the losing department to enable the transferring department to continue the activities on the gaining department's behalf, drawing upon the transferring department's appropriations.

Outcome statements and Program Structures

12. Generally, a new department would not require the Minister for Finance's approval if it receives the transferring department's outcome statement (i.e. an entire outcome statement, already approved being transferred).

13. A new outcome statement would be required if the department cannot receive the outcome statement of the losing entity (i.e. where only a small function within the losing entity's outcome is being transferred and it would not be appropriate to copy that outcome statement in the gaining entity).

14. See Governance and financial management – other issues page for more information.

Departments and APS agencies


15. If a department or agency is created out of a MoG, consideration should be given to what delegations, if any, will be required to be in place immediately at the time of establishment.

16. In determining to delegate certain powers, functions or duties the accountable authority should ensure that appropriate systems of risk management and internal controls are implemented.

17. Section 16 of the PGPA Act requires an accountable authority to establish and maintain an appropriate system of:

  • risk oversight and management; and
  • internal control

18. These systems of oversight and internal control should ensure officials of the agency comply with the Act or the rules.

Accountable Authority Instructions

19. Section 20A of the PGPA Act authorises accountable authorities to give instructions to officials in their departments on any matter necessary or convenient for carrying out or giving effect to the Act or the rules. To help accountable authorities develop appropriate controls, Finance has developed model accountable authority instructions see http://www.finance.gov.au/resource-management/accountability/accountable-authority-instructions/.

Corporate Plan requirements

20. If a new department or agency is established as a result of Machinery of Government changes a corporate plan for that department must be published as soon as practicable after the plan is prepared.

21. For further information see:

Movement of people

Legislative basis

22. Section 72 of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act) gives the Australian Public Service Commissioner (the Commissioner) the authority to move employees in and out of the APS following a Machinery of Government (MoG) change. The Commissioner may:

  • move an APS employee to another APS or non-APS Commonwealth agency.
  • move a Commonwealth employee from a non-APS agency into an APS agency.
  • Engage any person as an APS employee in a specified APS agency.

See People Management.

23. Responsible officers are advised to consider whether any additional legislation is needed to facilitate the movement of staff into a newly created agency, for example, in specific legislation concerning the establishment of the agency.

Terms and Conditions

24. The Public Service Regulations 1999 prescribe the terms and conditions for employees moved into an APS agency from another APS agency or from a non-APS Commonwealth agency. See Pay and Conditions.

25. It is likely that the newly created agency will not have a workplace agreement in place. In such circumstances the agency head establishes terms and conditions for employees by making a determination under section 24(1) of the PS Act. This is an interim arrangement until a workplace agreement can be made.

26. In some cases it may be appropriate for the new agency head to preserve the conditions of employment that previously applied and are sensible to continue.

27. A section 24(1) determination made following a MoG change can preserve only some, or all, of an employee's pre-existing terms and conditions. It cannot be used to introduce a new regime.

28. The gaining agency head is not obliged to carry across any, or all, of the terms and conditions that previously applied. In some cases, it may not be practical to preserve particular conditions. For example, access to work based childcare may not be available in the new agency.

29. A section 24(1) determination is subject to assessment against the Government's Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018 for the Commonwealth public sector.

30. It may also be necessary to make a separate section 24(1) determination creating interim terms and conditions for employees who are engaged by, or move to, the new agency at a later date but before a workplace agreement is in place. [A 24(1) determination in this case is not made under Public Service Regulations 1999, Regulation 8.1].

31. Where subsection 24(1) determinations are not underpinned by an existing workplace agreement, the Australian Public Service Enterprise Award 2015 will apply.

32. Agencies are advised to contact the APSC in relation to any proposed section 24 determination, and particularly in the circumstances described in the above paragraph.

Excess staff

33. Excess employees need to be identified as early as possible. Where the newly created agency considers that it will require fewer staff to perform a function that is to be moved, it may be appropriate to facilitate redeployment within the current agency or to other APS agencies before the administration of the MoG change is completed.

Working in the APS

34. See Non-APS agency to APS agency.

Records Management

35. Responsible officers must take immediate steps to establish a means to record important initial decisions about the legal warrant for the agency, its functions, policy scope and structure. The National Archives can provide specific advice and assistance with systems required for these steps, at the Agency Service Centre. See Records Management.

Governance and Financial Management

36. For governance arrangements, please email Governance.Policy [at] finance.gov.au.

37. For funding arrangements, please email annual.appropriations [at] finance.gov.au.

38. For banking arrangements, please email Banking.Policy [at] finance.gov.au.

39. For financial reporting arrangements, please email accountingpolicy [at] finance.gov.au.

Property Management and Procurement

40. For property management and leasing arrangements, please email propertyframework [at] finance.gov.au.

41. For procurement advice, please email procurementagencyadvice [at] finance.gov.au.

Checklist: Setting up a new APS agency–People matters
Checklist: Setting up a new APS agency–Finance matters