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Part 1: Overview

Guide to the report

This part of the report includes the Public Service Commissioner’s review and an overview of the Commission’s role and responsibilities, outcome and program structure, organisational structure and financial performance.

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Public Service Commissioner’s review

This is my third annual report since I became Public Service Commissioner in December 2009.

Last year, I indicated that we had made significant progress in delivering the substantial reform agenda and in taking up the broader, central role in providing expertise, guidance, performance monitoring and centralised services envisaged by the report Ahead of the game: Blueprint for the reform of Australian Government administration (the Blueprint), while continuing to deliver our core services.

Essential internal building blocks had been put in place in terms of our structures, organisational culture and people. The Commission was well on its way to making the transition to a new organisational structure, business model and workforce capability to build its capacity to respond to the APS-wide demand for an outward-looking, client-focused Commission.

But there was more to do in 2011–12.

2011–12 in review

The Commission takes a leadership role in strengthening APS human capital strategies and workforce and capability planning, and in improving talent management, leadership and the performance culture of the APS. While continuing to enhance and deliver our core services, the Commission made significant progress in fulfilling its expanded responsibilities across the APS. New activities undertaken by the Commission during 2011–12 included:

  • facilitation of the introduction into Parliament of the Public Service Amendment Bill 2012, which included provisions to strengthen the leadership of the APS; strengthen and clarify the functions of the Commissioner; and legislate the revised APS Values
  • developing and refining the APS Human Capital Planning Framework
  • successfully undertaking the pilot phase of the agency capability review program and beginning implementation of it
  • publishing the APS Workforce Planning Guide and the APS job family model and, in collaboration with agencies, developing training programs to build the understanding and practice of workforce planning among human resource practitioners and middle managers
  • revising the guidelines and policies on the size, capability and work-level standards for the SES and continuing to administer the SES cap and remuneration issues
  • implementing an interim APS executive remuneration management policy to maintain appropriate pay relativities between secretaries and their reports
  • providing support to the newly formed APS-wide Diversity Council, which provides strategic leadership on diversity issues across the APS. The Council has an initial focus on improving the representation rates of those who identify as Indigenous Australians or as people with disability as both of these groups continue to be significantly under-represented in the APS workforce
  • issuing, for the first time, a State of the Service employee census to all APS employees
  • developing the as one—Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy. The strategy’s primary objective is to strengthen the APS as a progressive and sustainable employer of people with disability
  • developing the APS Leadership Development Strategy and beginning to refresh the entire suite of SES leadership development programs and pilot new talent management programs
  • establishing a community of practice to enhance leadership learning and development practice across the APS
  • partnering with Jawun to run a program seconding high-potential APS employees to Indigenous organisations. The program resulted in positive outcomes for Indigenous communities, and provided improved cultural awareness and personal development for secondees
  • implementing the government’s decisions on the new APS Bargaining Framework, including the consideration and approval of 66 new enterprise agreements
  • upgrading the APSjobs online recruitment portal and developing APS Recruitment Guidelines.

In addition, a wide range of business-as-usual activity was undertaken such as SES recruitment, ethics advice, learning and development, Indigenous graduate recruitment, whistleblowing inquiries and the preparation of the State of the Service Report.

Our aim is to be recognised nationally and internationally as efficient and forward looking in order to drive change across the APS and to provide effective support to agencies to build their human capital and other capabilities. To achieve this, the Commission in 2011–12 continued to enhance our people, processes and systems capabilities and:

  • implemented our strategic plan 2011–14, which details our response to the demands and expectations of us by government and our clients across the APS
  • revised our ICT strategy and workforce plans to align them with the overarching strategic plan for the Commission
  • revised our committee structure to create a system that guides the Commission’s strategic thinking, monitors performance and contributes to the achievement of Commission outcomes
  • developed a set of Commission leadership behaviours intended to establish the Commission leaders as role models for the APS Values. An individual’s performance is measured through a 360-degree feedback tool
  • launched a new website to facilitate client contact and expanded our client manager approach to improve service delivery to clients
  • streamlined content on the Commission’s website, so as to make progress towards the objective that all government websites meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) by December 2012.

Outlook for 2012–13

Both 2010–11 and 2011–12 were years of significant challenge for the Commission, when our focus was building the internal capability necessary to deliver our expanded role.

We have made great strides towards creating an outward-looking, client-focused and collaborative organisation that bases its services on knowledge of best practice and a capacity to disseminate it. But the challenge of maintaining that culture, at a time of budget restraint and uncertainty, will require innovative and creative strategies in the year to come.

In 2012–13, we will continue to work with our people to create an environment where knowledge management and information sharing are recognised as the keys to our ongoing success in supporting APS agencies and delivering leading-edge evidence-based services.

We will also focus on implementing the new provisions of the Public Service Act 1999, if the amendments before the Parliament are enacted.

The Centre for Leadership and Learning’s activities in finalising and implementing the APS Leadership and Core Skills Development Program to prepare the APS for the challenges and opportunities of the future will be a significant focus for 2012–13, as will the implementation and evaluation of initiatives addressing the development and management of talent in the SES.

The Commission is finalising the evaluation of the 2011 bargaining round and has begun preparations for the 2014 round, when current agreements will expire. This process will include further engagement with agencies and stakeholders to identify factors that will impact on future bargaining.

We will also begin work on modernising awards that cover Commonwealth employment.

It has certainly been a busy year as we have bedded down the Commission’s new organisational structure and staff and continued to deliver professional and flexible services to agencies. I would like to thank all members of the Commission for their innovative and positive support and their commitment to maintaining our high quality of service to agencies during the change process.

I would also like to record my thanks to my colleagues on the Secretaries Board and in the wider APS community for their commitment to, and engagement in, the reform process. Their willingness to assist the Commission with resources and facilities and their preparedness to collaborate on initiatives and share their information and experiences substantially underwrote the successes of 2011–12.

Stephen Sedgwick AO
Public Service Commissioner

Commission overview

The Australian Public Service Commission is a central agency within the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio. The Commission supports two statutory office holders: the Public Service Commissioner—who is also agency head—and the Merit Protection Commissioner. Their functions are set out in sections 41(1) and 50(1), respectively, of the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act).


The Hon Gary Gray AO MP, Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity.

Role and responsibilities

Our vision is to lead and shape a unified, high-performing Australian Public Service (APS). The statutory responsibilities of the Public Service Commissioner that support our vision are detailed in the PS Act and include:

  • evaluating the extent to which agencies incorporate and uphold the APS Values
  • evaluating the adequacy of systems and procedures in agencies for ensuring compliance with the APS Code of Conduct
  • promoting the APS Values and Code of Conduct
  • developing, promoting, reviewing and evaluating APS employment policies and practices
  • facilitating continuous improvement in people management throughout the APS
  • coordinating and supporting APS-wide training and career development
  • contributing to and fostering leadership in the APS
  • providing advice and assistance on public service matters to agencies on request.

The Commission is responsible for Australian Government policies for agreement-making, classification structures, APS pay and employment conditions, work-level standards and workplace relations advice. Through the strengthened APS Employment Bargaining Framework, the Commission encourages agencies to develop a more consistent approach to common terms and conditions of employment for APS employees when negotiating enterprise agreements, to support the aim of moving towards one APS.

Outcome and program structure

The Commission’s outcome is increased awareness and adoption of best practice public administration by the public service through leadership, promotion, advice and professional development, drawing on research and evaluation.

In 2011–12, the Commission worked to achieve its outcome through two programs:

  • 1.1: Australian Public Service Commission
  • 1.2: Parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements.

Program 1.1 had three components:

  • 1.1.1: APS people and organisational performance
  • 1.1.2: Investing in APS development and capability
  • 1.1.3: Australian Government employment workplace relations.

The Public Service Commissioner provides staff to assist the Merit Protection Commissioner to perform her prescribed functions and provides secretariat support to the Remuneration Tribunal and the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal. The annual report of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal is at Part 3 and the annual report of the Merit Protection Commissioner is at Part 5. In previous years, the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal reported separately. (The Remuneration Tribunal continues to report separately.) The Commissioner’s financial statements include the activities of the Commissioner, the Merit Protection Commissioner and the tribunals.

Corporate structure

The Executive

A five-person Executive, consisting of the Public Service Commissioner, the Merit Protection Commissioner, the Deputy Public Service Commissioner, the Chief Human Capital Officer and the Special Advisor Indigenous Engagement, led the Commission in 2011–12.

Mr Stephen Sedgwick: AO Public Service Commissioner

Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO was appointed as Public Service Commissioner under section 45 of the PS Act. His five-year term began on 14 December 2009.

Mr Sedgwick has had a long and distinguished career in the public sector, having served in a number of departments beginning in 1972. He was Secretary to the Commonwealth Departments of Finance, Employment and Education between 1992 and 2002, and was a member of the Board of the Asian Development Bank for five years until 2007. He became Public Service Commissioner after a period as Professor and Director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne. He was awarded the Centenary Medal in January 2001 and was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in June 2012.

Mr Sedgwick graduated with Honours in Economics from the University of Sydney and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of London.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Policy at the Australian National University (ANU), and is a member of a number of boards and advisory groups. These include the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation, the Advisory Council of the ANU Crawford School of Economics and Government, the Advisory Board for the Australian National Institute for Public Policy, the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management, the Advisory Group for the Australian Human Rights Commission Male Champions of Change Research Project, and the ACT Government’s Learning Capital Council.

Ms Annwyn Godwin: Merit Protection Commissioner

Ms Annwyn Godwin was appointed as Merit Protection Commissioner in January 2008. Ms Godwin joined the public service in 1990 and has extensive experience in the corporate and staffing-related fields, including with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. During her early career, she worked in a wide variety of private sector agencies.

Ms Godwin has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Melbourne with majors in Australian politics and history and a Master’s of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales.

Ms Penny Weir: Acting Deputy Public Service Commissioner

Ms Penny Weir joined the Commission in late 2010 and normally heads up the Employment Frameworks Division. She was acting as Deputy Public Service Commissioner at 30 June 2012.

Ms Weir has had an extensive private sector career including with PricewaterhouseCoopers and in her own successful consulting business. Her public sector career has spanned social policy, implementation and corporate leadership roles over a period of 15 years. She was a member of the taskforce that set up the new agency arrangements in support of the Fair Work Act 2009 and wound up the Workplace Authority as part of implementing those arrangements. Most recently, she established corporate support divisions for both the Workplace Authority and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. She has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy.

Mr Ian Fitzgerald: Chief Human Capital Officer

Mr Ian Fitzgerald joined the Commission in January 2011 as the Chief Human Capital Officer.

The Chief Human Capital Officer leads human capital thinking and knowledge development in the Commission and provides a resource for the Commission and agencies in dealing with human capital issues. The role includes overseeing human capital strategy development, reporting and associated benchmarking; the work of the Centre for Leadership and Learning; the Commission’s client engagement strategy; and agency capability reviews.

Mr Fitzgerald’s first career was in the justice sector, including delivery and policy lead roles in Australia and at the Home Office in London. More recently, he worked for Westpac for six years in various roles, including head of the overall People Strategy and Metrics function, head of Diversity and other human resource director roles with the bank in Australia and New Zealand. He has a Bachelor of Science from the Australian National University and a Master’s of Business Administration from Macquarie Graduate School of Management.

Ms Kerrie Tim: Special Advisor Indigenous Engagement

Ms Kerrie Tim recently joined the Commission as Special Advisor Indigenous Engagement following a period working as a senior executive with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

A graduate of the University of Queensland, Ms Tim’s extensive experience in the public sector includes the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services and its predecessor, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the Australian Public Service Commission, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the departments of Education and Aboriginal Affairs. Ms Tim is a former Executive Director to the Queensland Government, having worked within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and before that in the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy.

Ms Tim is actively committed to social justice and for the past 20 years has also focused her efforts towards helping people from all backgrounds to build better lives for themselves and to act successfully against injustice.

Ms Tim’s international experience includes representing Australian governments in discussions in the Philippines, the United States and Canada, and leading peer counselling workshops on ending racism in South Africa, Israel and New Zealand.

Ms Tim is a member of the Australian Government’s National Anti-Racism Partnership, the Australian Public Service Indigenous Governance Network and the Indigenous Advisory Group to the Canberra Centenary.

Organisational structure

Ten groups, each led by a group manager, supported the functions of the Commission in 2011–12 and reported to the Executive. The Chief Human Capital Officer had direct oversight of the Centre for Leadership and Learning, the Human Capital Research and Evaluation Group and the Client Engagement Group. The Deputy Public Service Commissioner had responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of the Workforce Participation, APS Professional Development Services, Employment Policy and Workplace Relations groups and the Remuneration Tribunal Secretariat. The Merit Protection Commissioner had general oversight, in addition to her statutory responsibilities, for the Ethics and Corporate groups. Figure 1 shows the Commission’s organisational structure as at 30 June 2012.

Figure 1: Organisational structure as at 30 June 2012

Group functions

The Centre for Leadership and Learning was established within the Commission in July 2010 to ensure the APS has a contemporary, systematic approach to learning and development, leadership development and talent management. It also has a role in supporting the Secretaries Board and the APS200 and has a whole-of-reform reporting role.

The Human Capital Research and Evaluation Group provides a focus for evidence-based thought leadership on human capital in order to position the Commission to lead and shape APS reform. The group maintains and develops capabilities in strategic human capital planning, human capital intelligence and foresight, human capital measurement and benchmarking, APS-wide workforce planning, and research and evaluation.

The Workforce Participation Group is responsible for leading APS workforce participation strategies to meet the needs of the APS and broader government workforce participation objectives. The group develops policies and practices relating to under-represented segments of the community and engages with agencies to ensure service-wide frameworks are implemented. The group has specific responsibility for the APS Employment and Capability Strategy for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Employees and manages the Commission’s commitments under the previous government’s National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy.

The Client Engagement Group has a lead role in implementing a number of the key reform projects that originate from the Blueprint. This includes streamlining recruitment and improved induction—including the development of APSjobs—and strengthening performance management and mobility. The group leads the development of the Commission’s client engagement strategies and manages international development programs throughout the Asia–Pacific and Africa and the Commission’s regional engagements, including through the Australian Government Leadership Network. The group also has a key role in implementing strategic communications strategies for the organisation.

The APS Professional Development Services Group delivers learning and development opportunities across the APS, specialising in graduate development programs and APS 1–6, Executive Level and Senior Executive Service programs and events. The group manages the Commission’s registered training organisation.

The Workplace Relations Group is responsible for Australian Government employment workplace relations policy, including equal employment opportunity and administration of the framework for agreement-making and remuneration and conditions.

The Employment Policy Group has responsibility for managing the SES cap and is responsible for implementing the outcomes of the Review of the Senior Executive Service, with government agreeing to most of the recommendations of that review. The group is also responsible for examining existing APS classification arrangements and work-level standards and provides advice on the legislative and policy framework that applies to APS employment. The group also contains the secretariat to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal.

The Ethics Group advises on ethics and integrity in the APS, encouraging open, transparent and effective agency decision-making in accordance with the APS Values and Code of Conduct and supporting the review and inquiry functions of both the Commissioner and the Merit Protection Commissioner. The group provides an Ethics Advisory Service for the whole of the APS. For administrative purposes the Commission’s legal services area operates within the group. However, in performing their role, legal advisers provide advice to the Commissioner and the Merit Protection Commissioner.

The Corporate Group underpins the operations of the Commission, providing assurance and governance on human capital management and workforce development; budget and financial management; property services; records management; ministerial and parliamentary services; information and communications technology; and project management.

The Remuneration Tribunal Secretariat provides secretariat services to the President and members of the Remuneration Tribunal.

Regional offices

The primary responsibility of each regional office is to engage and support agencies in identifying and dealing with organisational issues, assist with the integration of the reform agenda and foster leadership and people management networks across the APS.

The Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane offices have specific business responsibilities to support the Commission’s fee-for-service activities and review work.

Reports and publications

The Commission issues a range of APS leadership, learning and development materials in a variety of formats. Commission publications and circulars, as well as selected speeches given by the Public Service Commissioner, are available on the Commission’s website.


The Commission’s head office is in Canberra. It has regional offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Full addresses and contact details are available on the Commission’s website.

Funding and financial performance

The Commission’s activities are funded through a combination of appropriation and revenue generated through the sale of leadership services, learning and development training courses, employment-related and international assistance services and workplace relations activities. Much of the Commission’s revenue is earned in a competitive market where agencies may choose the source and level of the services they need.

In 2011–12 the Commission received $25.830 million in departmental appropriation funding and own-source income of $30.108 million from the sale of goods and rendering of services.

The Commission’s operating result for 2011–12 was a deficit of $0.728 million (surplus of $1.912 million in 2010–11). The deficit is mainly due to the impact of net cash funding for departmental capital budgets, where depreciation and amortisation expense is no longer funded by a revenue appropriation.

Payments of $49.596 million were made from the special appropriation for the parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements administered program.

Last reviewed: 
11 May 2018