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Part 2: Performance review

In this part, the Commission reports on its performance against its outcome and its two programs, including achievements during the year, key performance results, and activities undertaken during the year.

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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.

Summary of performance

Table 1 summarises the Commission’s performance against its key performance indicators in 2011–12.

Table 1: Summary of performance, 2011–12
Program 1.1: Australian Public Service Commission Target Actual
1.1.1: APS people and organisational performance
Percentage of high level of use and satisfaction with the State of the Service Report and other research and evaluation reports by the SES, agencies and other clients 75% 84%
1.1.2: Investing in APS development and capability
Responding surveyed participants consider that the Commission programs have equipped them with the knowledge and skills they need in order to perform their roles more effectively 85% 90%
Responding surveyed participants consider that the Commission program learning objectives were met effectively 85% 90%
Responding surveyed participants agreed that attending Commission programs and/or events assisted in building their awareness of issues, developments and priorities to enable them to work more effectively 85% 90%
Responding surveyed participants agreed that attending Commission leadership development activities increased their leadership skill, capability and knowledge 85% 89%
1.1.3: Australian Government employment workplace relations
Agency enterprise agreements are assessed against the bargaining framework within 10 working days 100% 86%
Level of satisfaction of the President of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal with the quality and timeliness of the services provided by the secretariat Very good or above High
Level of satisfaction of the President of the Remuneration Tribunal with the quality and timeliness of the services provided by the secretariat Very good or above Very high
Program 1.2: Parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements
Percentage of all variations to remuneration and entitlements are processed in a timely manner with an accuracy of at least 99% 99% Achieved

Summary of financial performance

Table 2 summarises the Commission’s financial performance in 2011–12.

Table 2: Summary of financial performance, 2011–12
  Budget estimate ($ million)* Actual result ($ million)
* Full-year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2011–12 Budget.
Departmental
Program 1.1: Australian Public Service Commission    
Program component 1.1.1: APS people and organisational performance 19.0 22.7
Program component 1.1.2: Investing in APS development and capability 22.8 23.9
Program component 1.1.3: Australian Government employment workplace relations 11.1 10.1
Total departmental 52.9 56.7
Administered
Program 1.2: Parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements 47.9 49.6
Total administered 47.9 49.6
Total Outcome 1 100.8 106.3

Departmental expenses were $3.8 million higher than budget as a result of a higher level of fee-for-service activities than planned, primarily for development programs, international assistance and Indigenous employment.

Administered expenses were $1.7 million higher than budget following a review of the remuneration of parliamentarians, with increases in base salary effective from March 2012.

Table 2 should be read in conjunction with Table A2: Expenses and resources for Outcome 1, 2011–12 (Appendix A). The actual result includes the expenditure associated with fee-for-service activities in excess of the budget estimate.

Program 1.1—component 1.1.1: APS people and organisational performance

Objectives

The APS undertakes a broad range of activities related to policy, regulation, program implementation and program delivery.

The Commission’s objectives under this program component in 2011–12 were to:

  • enhance employment frameworks within the APS that support effective deployment and management of human capital
  • advise government on amendments to the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act) and provide quality policy advice, and employment services, on matters covered by it
  • manage and provide quality policy advice on the Public Service Commissioner’s statutory responsibilities for Senior Executive Service (SES) employment and recruitment of agency heads and statutory office holders
  • work with agencies to embed APS Values in the APS that are effective in driving performance and cultural change, and promote public service ethics and integrity
  • ensure a more systemic approach to APS-wide human capital and workforce planning through development of a human capital framework and workforce planning framework
  • streamline and improve APS workforce attraction, recruitment, induction, mobility and diversity strategies while upholding the merit principle
  • undertake pilot agency capability reviews to assist agencies to improve institutional capabilities and strengthen accountability of agency performance
  • support the review, inquiry and reporting functions of the Public Service Commissioner and the Merit Protection Commissioner
  • provide assurance and intervention (as appropriate) to the quality of employment decisions across the APS
  • provide evidence-based analysis of performance to inform debate on the state of the APS
  • deliver the strategies detailed in the Indigenous Employment Strategy, including increasing employment and retention of Indigenous employees in the APS; building the skills and capabilities of Indigenous employees; and improving the representation of Indigenous employees across the APS.

Achievements

During 2011–12, the Commission’s achievements included:

  • facilitation of the introduction into Parliament of the Public Service Amendment Bill 2012, which included the provisions to strengthen the leadership of the APS; strengthen and clarify the functions of the Commissioner; and legislate the revised APS Values
  • releasing guidance for agencies on making public comment and participating online which clarified the application of the APS Values and Code of Conduct to the different capacities in which APS employees make public comment
  • successfully undertaking the pilot phase of the agency capability review program and commencing the broader implementation of the program that will see each of the remaining 17 departments and three large agencies participate in the reviews
  • developing and refining the APS Human Capital Planning Framework. The framework identifies the elements of human capital relevant to organisational performance
  • working in partnership with 58 agencies to leverage better practice and reposition workforce planning as a business-owned strategic planning tool that is integrated with agency business planning cycles
  • developing and implementing a practical Workforce Planning Guide, with supporting tools and templates and a job family (occupational group) model to enable the APS to map and understand its workforce
  • significantly increasing the sample size of the 2011 State of the Service employee survey and in 2012, for the first time, conducting the survey as a census with over 160,000 APS employees invited to participate
  • providing support to the newly formed APS-wide Diversity Council, which provides strategic leadership on diversity issues across the APS
  • developing the as one—Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy, aimed at strengthening the APS as a progressive and sustainable employer of people with disability and improving the experience of people with disability in APS employment
  • delivering the APS Indigenous Pathways to Employment program, on behalf of agencies, which saw more than 160 Indigenous Australians engaged by APS agencies—the largest number of graduate, cadet and trainee placements through the program since its inception in 2005
  • publishing principles for using mobility to enhance the professional development of employees
  • collaborating with agencies to enhance the APSjobs employment portal.

Key performance indicators

Table 3 summarises the performance of program component 1.1.1 against its key performance indicator for 2011–12 and the previous two years.

Table 3: Summary of program component 1.1.1’s performance against key performance indicator, 2009–10 to 2011–12
Key performance indicator 2009–10 Actual 2010–11 Actual 2011–12
Target Actual
Note: Results refer to the financial year in which the State of the Service Report was tabled, not the reporting period on which the report is based.
Percentage of high level of use and satisfaction with the State of the Service Report and other research and evaluation reports by the SES, agencies and other clients 90% 90% 75% 84%

The 2011–12 Portfolio Budget Statements included two additional key performance indicators for the program:

  • degree of satisfaction of Minister and agency heads, as expressed through feedback about the quality and timeliness of services and advice provided by the Commission

During the year the Commission continued to improve the quality and timeliness of information provided to the Minister. The outcome has been more effective delivery of information to the Minister.

  • developing programs and strategies to assist APS agencies with recruitment, training and retention to reach at least 2.7% of Indigenous representation across the APS workforce by 2015.

Deliverables

The Commission’s key deliverables for program component 1.1.1 in 2011–12 were:

  • maintenance of tools for embedding the APS Values
  • Ethics Advisory Service
  • human capital, workforce planning and capability frameworks and benchmarking processes reflected in the APS Human Capital Priority Plan and the leadership development strategy for the APS
  • best practice standards for recruitment, induction, mobility and diversity and provision of a model for more effective induction and transition programs and succession and talent management
  • best practice standards for managing performance, training and communications strategy for the APS
  • policy advice and exercise of statutory responsibilities in relation to recruitment to SES roles, separation of SES employees and recruitment of agency heads and statutory office holders
  • agency capability reviews, reports and capability action plans
  • accurate, quality and timely review and employment services
  • data analysis on APS employment delivered through the State of the Service Report and other reports, including international and inter-jurisdictional comparisons where appropriate, to assist in its advice to government and the APS
  • strategies to improve and increase Indigenous representation across the APS through increased employment and targeted development of Indigenous employees in the APS.

Table 4 summarises program component 1.1.1’s performance against its deliverables for 2011–12 and the previous two years.

Table 4: Summary of program component 1.1.1’s performance against deliverables, 2009–10 to 2011–12
Deliverables 2009–10 Actual 2010–11 Actual 2011–12
Target Actual

* The Merit Protection Commissioner’s annual report, at Part 5, addresses the performance of the review function against timeliness targets and measures to address challenges in meeting targets.

† Numbers include completed fee-for-service employment activities, including independent selection advisory committees, selection advisory committees and scribe assignments.

Number of reviews finalised on behalf of the Merit Protection Commissioner 264 151 235 232
Percentage of reviews conducted on behalf of the Merit Protection Commissioner completed within published timeframes* 81% 40% 70% 18%
Number of responses to whistleblowing reports made to the Public Service Commissioner or the Merit Protection Commissioner 24 25 22 24
Percentage of whistleblowing reports responded to within six weeks with any further investigations conducted promptly 96% 92% 70% 87%
Number of State of the Service Report and associated publications 2 2 2 2
Percentage of State of the Service Report tabled in accordance with tabling requirements 100% 100% 100% 100%
Number of fee-for-services employment-related services completed† 451 530 500 664
Number of secretariat service provided to the Secretaries Board, APS200 and Public Service Commissioners’ Conference 2 13 8 11

Proposed legislative changes

The Public Service Amendment Bill 2012 was introduced into Parliament on 1 March 2012.

The amendments proposed implement the recommendations of the Blueprint, and recognise that the delivery of high-quality services and policy advice requires capable, committed leadership and a public service that is efficient and effective in supporting government. The legislation that regulates the APS must support a service that is fit for purpose: one that can meet the needs of the government of the day and the Australian community now and into the future, while remaining true to its apolitical character and traditional principles such as accountability, professionalism, and merit-based staffing.

The proposed amendments include:

  • strengthening the leadership of the APS through:
    • articulating the roles and responsibilities of secretaries more clearly, particularly in relation to their stewardship of the APS
    • revising the employment arrangements for secretaries so that appointments and termination of appointments are made by the Governor-General
    • clarifying the role of the SES to include whole-of-APS responsibilities
    • strengthening and clarifying the functions of the Public Service Commissioner as a central authority for APS stewardship, management and development
  • revising the APS Values and introducing Employment Principles.

At the same time, the Commission has taken the opportunity to propose other amendments to improve the operation of the PS Act, including amendments to address technical matters that have become apparent since 1999.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the amendments are expected to come into effect towards the end of 2012 or early in the new year.

Roles and responsibilities of secretaries

Working with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Commission finalised development of proposals to reinvigorate strategic leadership in the APS, as recommended by Reform 4 of the Blueprint.

The proposals focus on articulating in more detail the roles and responsibilities of secretaries, including whole-of-APS leadership, and on enhancing the independence of appointment and termination processes.

Redefining the role of the Public Service Commissioner

Among the major changes proposed to the PS Act are amendments to strengthen the role of the Public Service Commissioner as a central authority for APS development and reform and as a leader in ensuring that the APS has the organisational and workforce capability to meet future needs.

A larger part of the Commissioner’s future functions will involve identifying good practice in workforce and organisational management, and actively working with agencies to adopt such practices. The changes proposed to the PS Act will—among other things—modernise the description of the Commissioner’s functions, and clarify the Commissioner’s review functions by providing for systems and special reviews.

Systems reviews will allow the Commissioner to review and report on the management and organisational systems, structures and processes of an APS body, or the functional relationship between two or more bodies. The Prime Minister, the agency minister, or a secretary (with the agreement of the Prime Minister) will be able to initiate such reviews.

By contrast, special reviews will be able to be initiated only at the direction of the Prime Minister. While it is expected that special reviews will be uncommon, they are intended to be available to government in those rare circumstances where the public interest demands it.

The amendments to the PS Act will also allow the Commissioner to conduct an investigation into alleged misconduct of an APS employee when requested by the Prime Minister (for example, as a result of a systems or special review), or by the employee’s agency head. The Commissioner will have the discretion to decline to conduct such an investigation. These cases are likely to be rare, and may arise where public interest concerns raised by a particular allegation make it desirable that matters are investigated and determined by an authority that is both expert and independent.

Revising the APS Values

A further significant amendment to the PS Act is the proposed revision of the APS Values to provide a smaller set of core values that are more meaningful, memorable, and effective in driving change.

The revised Values will assist in the development of a unified APS and achievement of the cultural change and improved performance sought by the government’s reform program.

The proposed APS Values define the character of the APS as an institution and will guide the way in which it conducts its activities and serves the Australian community and the government of the day. They will continue to articulate the culture and operating ethos of the APS and underscore its professionalism.

The existing 15 Values have been amended to comprise a set of five Values, supported by a set of Employment Principles. The new Employment Principles encompass the current APS Values that address employment and workplace relationships, including the merit principle.

The revised Values in the Bill are:

  • Committed to service—The APS is professional, objective, innovative and efficient, and works collaboratively to achieve the best results for the Australian community and the government.
  • Ethical—The APS demonstrates leadership, is trustworthy, and acts with integrity, in all that it does.
  • Respectful—The APS respects all people, including their rights and their heritage.
  • Accountable—The APS is open and accountable to the Australian community under the law and within the framework of Ministerial responsibility.
  • Impartial—The APS is apolitical and provides the government with advice that is frank, honest, timely and based on the best available evidence.

APS employees will be required to uphold the APS Values and Employment Principles, and agency heads and SES employees will be required also to promote them.

Ethics and integrity

In addition to progressing the amendments to the PS Act and subordinate legislation, a range of other work has been done this year to support ethics and integrity in the APS.

Ethics Advisory Service

The Ethics Advisory Service has continued to provide information, expert advice, and resources to APS employees and agencies, consistent with its client service charter, to promote understanding and awareness of the APS ethical framework. Seventy-six per cent of queries to the service were made by telephone and 24% by email, which may indicate a preference for a more direct, personal approach in dealing with matters that raise ethical concerns. The number and nature of these inquiries are reported in the Commissioner’s State of the Service Report 2011–12.

Ethics Contact Officer Network

The Ethics Contact Officer Network was established by the Commission in May 2009. Ethics Contact Officers support their agencies by providing a point of contact for discussion and resources on matters relating to ethics in the APS, and share information, experience and good practice advice on ethical decision-making. Almost 100 agencies are represented on the network, which is supported by an online discussion forum on GovDex, the Australian Government’s secure, web-based collaborative space.

Meetings of the network are chaired by the Merit Protection Commissioner, and address emerging or ongoing matters of interest to the group. Three meetings took place this year, on the themes of managing persistent complainants; emerging issues in social media; and diversity and the APS Values.

Guidelines on making public comment and participating online

The Commission has for many years provided guidance to agencies on APS employees’ rights and obligations when they make public comment. The principles that underpin these guidelines are enduring, but recently a need has emerged to clarify their application to comment made online, given the increasing popularity of social networking sites and online communication generally. Consequently, in January 2012 the Commission issued Circular 2012/1: Revisions to the Commission’s guidance on making public comment and participating online. The release of the circular followed consultation with the Secretaries Board, the Gov 2.0 Steering Committee, the Heads of Corporate Services, and the Ethics Contact Officer Network.

The circular makes clear that APS employees have the same right to freedom of expression as other members of the community, subject to legitimate public interests such as the maintenance of an impartial and effective public service in which the community can have confidence.

The guidance clarifies the application of the APS Values and Code of Conduct to the different capacities in which APS employees may make public comment, distinguishing between employees’ participation online in an official capacity (as part of their employment), in a personal capacity (as a private citizen), and in a professional capacity—where an APS employee makes public comment as a subject-matter expert, but not on behalf of their agency.

The revised guidelines also address the potential consequences of posting material online, noting that such material may be replicated endlessly, may be read by a much wider audience than was intended, may be taken out of context, and may endure permanently.

The guidance is not intended to be prescriptive. Instead, it aims to clarify the matters that agencies and employees may need to consider in deciding the appropriate parameters for making public comment, and, in the case of agencies, for developing policies in this area.

Information sessions and assistance to agencies

Part of the role of the Ethics Advisory Service is to provide advice on ethics and ethical decision-making in the APS. This has included delivering information sessions, providing policy advice, and giving feedback on agency policies and procedures. Among the information sessions presented this year were several made to international delegations and to the Pacific Work Attachments Program, as well as sessions outlining the amendments to the PS Act. It is common for the service to provide advice in relation to bullying and harassment in the APS, and in that context a staff member in the service was sponsored by Comcare to attend the conference of the International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment, held in Copenhagen in June 2012.

Whistleblowing reports and other allegations

APS employees are able to report alleged breaches of the APS Code of Conduct to their agency head or a person authorised by the agency head. Where an employee is not satisfied with the agency’s response to their report, or in other circumstances (for example, where it is not appropriate for the agency head to deal with the matter), a whistleblowing report may be made to the Commissioner or the Merit Protection Commissioner.

The Commissioner’s whistleblowing inquiry functions are handled by delegated staff in the Commission, with the Commissioner reserving for his personal consideration matters that raise serious public interest issues.

In 2011–12 the number of whistleblowing reports received by the Commissioner decreased from 14 in 2010–11 to eight. Table 5 shows the number of cases received and finalised. Ten complaints were carried over from 2010–11. Seventy per cent of whistleblowing reports were acknowledged within six weeks. Whistleblowing cases often comprise large volumes of material and it can take some time to determine that the employee is seeking to lodge a whistleblowing report.

The complaints from public servants concerned mismanagement of agency programs and resources, failure to follow agency procedures and allegations of misconduct by managers, including allegations of bullying and harassment.

Nine matters were finalised in 2011–12, including six of the 10 matters carried over from the previous year. Table 5 also shows the action taken by the Commissioner in response to these cases. The single finalised investigation found that there was insufficient evidence to warrant recommending an investigation into an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct. In seven cases the employee was advised to refer the matter to the relevant agency head for investigation. The remaining case was invalid as it involved a matter that fell outside the scope of the whistleblowing framework.

While the number of whistleblowing reports lodged is low, they often concern complex interpersonal matters and the issues can take a long time to assess, including whether any or all of the matters have been investigated by the agency in the first instance.

The Commissioner also handled 15 allegations against agency heads made by APS employees and members of the public under section 41(1)(f) of the PS Act. The complaints featured allegations that agency decision-makers had failed to comply with their legislative obligations, including declaring conflicts of interest, or that their personal behaviour had failed to uphold the Code of Conduct. Of the 10 allegations finalised in 2011–12, only one warranted an inquiry. The inquiry found no substantive evidence to support a conclusion that there had been a breach of the Code of Conduct. Three allegations lapsed or were withdrawn and no inquiry was warranted in the remaining six finalised cases.

Table 5: Whistleblowing reports received by the Public Service Commissioner, 2010–11 and 2011–12
  2010–11 2011–12
Number of reports
On hand at the start of the reporting period 4 10
Received 17 8
Finalised 11 9
On hand at the end of the reporting period 10 9
Source of reports
Current APS employees 14 7
Former APS employees 3 1
Action by Commissioner
Referred to agency head for consideration 7 7
Investigated under whistleblowing powers 1 1
No further action or referred elsewhere 3 1

Parliamentary committee inquiries: Submissions and hearings

The Commission provided input into four parliamentary inquiries during the year.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment—Inquiry into workplace bullying

In May 2012 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment commenced an inquiry into workplace bullying.

The Public Service Commissioner and the Merit Protection Commissioner made a joint submission to the inquiry which noted, among other things, that despite the strengths of the APS management and reporting frameworks, the levels of perceived bullying and harassment in the APS remain high. The submission described changes to data-gathering on bullying and harassment in the forthcoming 2011–12 State of the Service Report that will enable the Commission to develop a better understanding of both the behaviour and its impact. Further information is available at www.aph.gov.au.

Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity

Inquiry into the operation of the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006

In May 2009, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity initiated an inquiry into the operation of the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006.

The committee’s final report was tabled in July 2011, and recommended, among other things, that the jurisdiction of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity be extended to cover additional agencies with a law enforcement function and that the government consider establishing an overarching integrity body for the Commonwealth. In February 2012 the government tabled its response to the report, including material provided by the Commission about the existing integrity frameworks in the APS. The response noted, among other things, that no single body should have sole responsibility for preventing corruption. Further information about this inquiry is available at www.aph.gov.au.

Inquiry into integrity testing

In July 2011, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity initiated an inquiry that considered, among other things, the possible application of integrity testing in Commonwealth government agencies.

The Commission’s submission to the inquiry noted that the risk of corrupt conduct was being appropriately managed in the APS, but that agencies could undertake integrity testing if it was consistent with the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

The committee’s final report was tabled in November 2011 and the government’s response provided in March 2012. The government agreed that an integrity testing program should apply to the law enforcement agencies currently under the jurisdiction of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. Further information about this inquiry is available at www.aph.gov.au.

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

In June 2012 the Commissioner appeared at a public hearing of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit to present the APS annual update. The Commissioner provided information on the APS reforms and about the guidance that is available to APS staff on interaction with ministers and their offices. Further information is available at www.aph.gov.au.

Other submissions

Attorney-General’s Department

In April 2012 the Commission made a contribution to public consultation on the Commonwealth’s approach to anti-corruption in the context of the National Anti-Corruption Plan being developed by the Attorney-General’s Department. The Commission stated that the existing APS integrity framework requires employees to avoid actions which are, or could be perceived to be, corrupt, and that the available evidence suggests that the level of corruption in the APS is very low. In addition to providing comment, the Commission was represented at the International Anti-Corruption Day Forum in December 2011, when the Acting Merit Protection Commissioner participated in a panel discussion on the Commonwealth’s approach to anti-corruption.

It is expected that the National Anti-Corruption Plan will be released in the second half of 2012.

Further information is available at www.ag.gov.au.

Strategic leadership

Secretaries performance framework

The Commission continued to work with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to develop a strengthened performance management framework for secretaries. The framework operates on a calendar year performance cycle and includes an assessment against APS-wide stewardship responsibilities and 270-degree feedback.

The pilot of the framework was completed in 2011. It tested the core components to ensure the process was robust and workable and supported the provision of strong leadership and strategic direction.

A more extensive trial is being conducted throughout 2012 with all secretaries.

Secretaries Board and APS200

The Blueprint recommended the establishment of the Secretaries Board and the APS200 as two key initiatives to strengthen leadership across the service, build APS capability and foster a shared sense of stewardship of an important national institution.

Over 2011–12, the Commission submitted papers to meetings of the Secretaries Board, at significant decision points and milestones in, or at the culmination of, key APS reforms and directions. The Commission will bring a similar series of papers forward in 2012–13 as many of the Blueprint reforms reach advanced stages of implementation. In collaboration with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Commission has also coordinated quarterly reports to the Secretaries Board on the progress of the suite of Blueprint reforms.

The APS200 was established in May 2010, as a catalyst for the changes envisaged in the Blueprint. Its members, primarily secretaries, significant agency heads and SES Band 3 (deputy secretaries) or their equivalents, have met regularly at a series of events designed to develop their individual capabilities and knowledge, or to develop whole-of-APS capabilities in particular areas of focus.

The Commission facilitated five APS200 events, in partnership with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, in 2011–12. Four of these were addresses by:

  • former premiers Professor Geoff Gallop AC and Mr Jeff Kennett AC (July 2011)—‘Is the federation an antique concept or something worth progressing?’
  • Ms Heather Ridout, CEO, Australian Industry Group, and Ms Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia (September 2011)—‘Australian business culture: innovative or bust?’
  • Sir Gus O’Donnell, UK Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, on public service reform in the United Kingdom (October 2011)—‘How the UK Civil Service is dealing with fiscal consolidation’
  • the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard (April 2012)—‘The year ahead—our plans in Australia 2012’.

At the Secretaries Board retreat in December 2011, it was decided that secretaries should look further at strategic opportunities and challenges for Australia over the next two decades. In order to strengthen the strategic policy focus and capability of the APS200 leadership group, this was extended to an APS200 horizon-scanning exercise. The Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Commissioner co-sponsored the activity.

The aim of the workshop, held in May 2012, was to encourage longer-term thinking and discussion on:

  • the most important issues facing Australia in the next two decades
  • the possible impact of those external issues on the APS
  • enhancing the capability of the APS to effectively address those issues.

The Commission provided research and analysis support to the activities of the APS200 leadership group and the conduct of a workshop that was attended by 96 members of the APS200. The APS200 leadership group reported to the Secretaries Board in June 2012.

Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO, Public Service Commissioner, and Sir Gus O’Donnell, UK Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, at Sir Gus’s address to the APS200, October 2011.

In early 2012, the Commission reviewed the APS200 program to ensure that it was meeting its objectives. The result was modifications to the ownership and design of the program’s events, which aim to boost the involvement of all members of the APS200 and enhance the events’ outcomes for them. These changes will continue to be implemented during 2012–13.

Public Service Commissioners’ conference

The Public Service Commissioners’ Conference is held twice a year. The conference is a cross-jurisdictional forum for Commonwealth, state and territory public service commissioners and New Zealand’s State Services Commissioner. It provides opportunities to discuss contemporary challenges in public administration and also serves as a forum for exchanging information and sharing experience.

The Commission provides secretariat and research support to the conference.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management

The Commission continued to actively engage in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Public Governance Committee and the Board of the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management.

Human capital and workforce planning

Human capital planning framework

During 2011, the Commission developed the APS Human Capital Planning Framework from an analysis of the recurring human capital risks identified in a broad range of reviews of the APS. The framework shows the link from environmental scanning through the human capital planning process to organisational performance. It has been tested with a number of agencies as both a diagnostic to address agency-specific human capital issues and a planning tool to support broader agency planning activities. An increasing number of agencies are using the framework to augment traditional business planning and change management processes.

Workforce planning framework

Over 2011–12, the Commission worked in partnership with 58 agencies to leverage better practice and reposition workforce planning as a business-owned strategic planning tool that is integrated with agency business planning cycles. The primary focus of this work was the development of two foundation components of an APS-wide workforce planning framework:

  • a practical workforce planning guide, with supporting tools and templates
  • a job family (occupational group) model to enable the APS to map and understand its workforce.

The APS Workforce Planning Guide has been designed for human resources professionals and other APS staff responsible for workforce planning. The guide presents a common approach to workforce planning and builds on existing information and good practice across the APS.

As a resource to assist with the workforce planning process, the APS job family model was also developed by the Commission in collaboration with agencies. The model establishes a system for clearly understanding occupational groupings or skill areas in the workforce. These standard groupings provide the basis for understanding workforce shortages, flows, development and potential risks to business delivery. The Commission has received positive feedback from agencies that are currently adopting the model.

To support the implementation of the guide and the job family model, the Commission, in partnership with agencies, has developed two training programs for human resource practitioners and middle and senior managers who have workforce planning responsibilities. This training seeks to build organisational capability in the practice of workforce planning. The training programs are being delivered in response to agency demand.

Job family model

ICT workforce planning

Between December 2011 and April 2012, the Commission, in consultation with the Australian Government Information Management Office, collected and reviewed the second iteration of agency workforce plans in line with the Whole-of-Government ICT Strategic Workforce Plan. The period for collecting the plans was adjusted to better reflect government decision-making processes that affect ICT planning in agencies, and consequently on agency-wide ICT workforce plans.

The Commission developed a revised ICT workforce planning template to assist agencies in meeting their obligation. This template was designed to reflect the broader APS-wide approach to workforce planning detailed in the APS Workforce Planning Guide.

Recruitment

During 2011–12 the Commission collaborated with agencies to enhance the APSjobs employment portal.

The Commission consulted with senior human resource, operational and technical staff across large, medium and small agencies and established a design group for the portal consisting of specialist recruitment staff from the Australian Taxation Office and the departments of Defence and Human Services.

This consultation process informed the requirements, structure, design and delivery of the enhanced APSjobs site.

Additional input from the commercial sector, ICT analysts and other jurisdictions, together with seven targeted agency workshops with more than 130 recruitment staff from 35 agencies, ensured that user preferences for the technology and content of APSjobs were successfully met.

The new portal provides agencies with improved functionality and new technology to support recruitment efforts. Its features include:

  • a graduate portal
  • APSjobsTV, featuring agency promotional videos and APS employee stories
  • the ability for APS agencies to post employment opportunities daily
  • improved navigation and ease of use for applicants.

Between December 2011 and June 2012, the Commission developed APS recruitment guidelines in consultation with agencies, which contributed by providing feedback and in several cases best practice case studies and other content. Throughout the development of the guidelines the Commission undertook a comprehensive joint consultation process with the Department of Finance and Deregulation as it developed its Non-Campaign Recruitment Advertising Policy.

Mobility

The Commission established guiding principles for the planning and implementation of temporary mobility initiatives for the professional development of APS employees. The principles aim to encourage agencies to consider their own business context and the place that mobility initiatives have within their talent management strategies, as informed by their strategic workforce plan. Agencies can use the principles to test against their own mobility initiatives for strategic value and operational efficacy.

Diversity Council

The APS has long been committed to progressing equity and diversity to ensure that the APS workforce is representative of the broader Australian community. Despite this commitment, two groups in particular continue to be significantly under-represented in the APS: Indigenous Australians and people with disability. Representation rates for both groups have been in steady decline since the late 1990s.

To redress this situation, the Secretaries Board agreed in February 2012 to establish an APS-wide Diversity Council. The Council will provide visible, strategic leadership on diversity issues, and aims to motivate improvements to diversity outcomes, with a particular initial focus on APS employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians and people with disability. The Council’s vision is for an APS that mirrors the diversity of the community it serves, and APS workplaces that are respectful, inclusive and value the diversity of their workforce.

The Council is chaired by Dr Ian Watt AO, Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and also comprises:

  • Ms Kathryn Campbell CSC, Secretary, Department of Human Services
  • Mr Drew Clarke PSM, Secretary, Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism
  • Mr Michael D’Ascenzo AO, Commissioner of Taxation, Australian Taxation Office
  • Ms Jane Halton PSM, Secretary, Department of Health and Ageing
  • Mr Duncan Lewis AO, DSC, CSC, Secretary, Department of Defence
  • Ms Lisa Paul AO, PSM, Secretary, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
  • Mr Finn Pratt PSM, Secretary, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO, Australian Public Service Commissioner (Deputy Chair)
  • Mr Roger Wilkins AO, Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department.

The Council meets quarterly, with its first two meetings held in March and June 2012. Members agreed on an initial range of strategies designed to bring visibility to diversity issues, share and promulgate best practice and monitor agency performance in improving workforce diversity. Members also endorsed a Diversity Council Charter, to state publicly their commitment to strengthening the APS as an employer of people from diverse backgrounds.

The Council also established a Reference Group to support its activities. The Reference Group has a role in identifying areas for improvement in workforce diversity, sharing best practice and advising the Council on issues affecting employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians and people with disability. The Reference Group, which met for the first time in May 2012, comprises deputy secretaries from across the APS, as well as two external subject-matter experts—Dr Rhonda Galbally and Dr Jackie Huggins.

Diversity

The government has committed to a target of 2.7% Indigenous employment in the Australian public sector by 2015. In a related development, the Council of Australian Governments included a commitment to establish a Diversity Census Day for the Australian public sector to encourage employees to self-identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians. In the APS this project was expanded to include diversity groups generally. As noted in the State of the Service Report 2009–10 (the report current at the time of the project), of data provided by agencies to the APS Employment Database at the end June 2010, only around half had comprehensive diversity data.

The Focus on Diversity initiative is aimed at building an inclusive culture within the APS that respects and appreciates diversity, and where people feel comfortable disclosing their diversity status.

After consultation with a range of APS agencies, it was decided that the Focus on Diversity initiative would not involve an event held on a particular day. Instead, it was to be a ‘call to action’ to improve collection and reporting of diversity data, with agencies passing on key messages and information about diversity disclosure to their employees, and ensuring systems were in place to enable staff to easily update their diversity data. It was also about providing information on how this data would be protected in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988, and helping to ensure employees felt comfortable about disclosing their diversity status.

Improved diversity information will assist agencies and the Commission to:

  • better understand the nature of our workforce
  • provide more targeted training, advice and support
  • identify and implement initiatives that assist in attracting, recruiting and retaining employees
  • make sure we are building and sustaining a diverse workforce now and into the future
  • provide greater focus on improving workplace culture and social inclusion.

During September and October 2011, the Commission made diversity information available to APS agencies, including provision of a ‘Focus on Diversity’ bookmark, to be used at any time in conjunction with activities promoting diversity being undertaken within agencies.

Amendments to the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999 are in train to ensure APS agencies are required to ask all employees for diversity information. Employees will still be able to choose not to provide that information.

An ageing APS workforce

In 2011–12, the Commission co-sponsored an APS200 project on work ability and ageing in the APS with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The project was commissioned by the Secretaries Board in August 2011 to design an action plan to tackle the workforce challenges of an ageing APS, the impact of chronic disease on work capacity, and the need to engage a multi-generational workforce. The Commission was represented on the project team and provided substantial research and analysis support to the activities of the team. The project team conducted a comprehensive review of best national and international research and practice, and formulated a framework for action to address the performance and capacity risks associated with an older APS workforce. The core components of the framework were tested through four workshops with APS staff and the implementation issues were tested at a workshop of deputy secretaries.

In May 2012, the framework was endorsed by the Secretaries Board. The Commission has an ongoing role in reporting on progress on implementation of the priority actions in the framework, including employment and demographic trends among older workers.

Employment of people with disability

Improving the attraction, recruitment and retention of people with disability in the APS continues to be a priority for the Commission, as highlighted by the launch of the as one—Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy on 14 May 2012. The as one strategy aims to strengthen the APS as a disability-confident employer and will improve the experience of people with disability in APS employment. It includes 19 initiatives grouped around four major themes:

  • improving leadership
  • increasing agency demand for candidates with disability
  • improving recruitment processes to enable more candidates with disability to enter the APS
  • fostering inclusive cultures that support and encourage employees with disability.

Attending the launch of the as one strategy on 14 May 2012, from left to right were Dr Rhonda Galbally, the Hon Gary Gray AO, MP and Dr Gill Hicks.

The as one strategy is an example of the Commission working in partnership across the APS to implement actions and initiatives that will achieve sustained improvements in performance over the medium to longer term. Other work by the Commission over the course of 2011–12 on improving the attraction, recruitment and retention of people with disability included:

  • organising and delivering the Disability Directions event in July 2011, a one-day conference featuring speakers from the APS and the private sector and workshops that gave participants practical tools and strategies to take back to their workplaces
  • the launch of My Career, My APS, an online career development tool for use by APS employees with disability
  • the establishment of a Disability Employment Working Group, which is facilitating better partnerships between APS agencies and disability employment service providers for the recruitment and retention of people with disability
  • continuing to identify, promote and implement best practice in disability employment across the APS in partnership with other private and community sector stakeholders.

The Commission has also adopted a leadership role under the government’s National Disability Strategy. In the area of future policy action for improving the economic security of people with disability, the National Disability Strategy commits to improving the recruitment and retention of people with disability in all levels of APS employment.

The as one strategy represents the first set of actions under this responsibility. In order to make further progress under the National Disability Strategy, the Commission has started consulting with state, territory and local governments about how to identify, develop and promote better disability employment practices across all public sector jurisdictions.

Indigenous employment

Under the APS Employment and Capability Strategy for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Employees, the Commission has been responsible for providing support to APS agencies to reach the government’s target of 2.7% Indigenous representation by 2015.

The strategy expired on 30 June 2012. During 2011–12, the Commission was one of a number of agencies that contributed to the development of the Single Indigenous Budget Submission, managed by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The government committed $1.8 million over three years for a new APS Indigenous Employment Strategy. In addition, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations agreed to provide additional funding to continue a range of whole-of-APS recruitment programs.

The new strategy will include a greater focus on employment in regional Australia and on matters relevant to Indigenous employees’ retention and career development.

Pathways into APS employment

In 2011–12 the Commission worked in partnership with more than 50 agencies to provide employment for 163 Indigenous Australians through the APS Indigenous Pathways Program. The program provides entry-level opportunities for Indigenous trainees (65 recruits), cadets (64) and graduates (34), and promotes the APS as an employer of choice to Indigenous job seekers. The Pathways program accounted for more than 45% of all Indigenous Australians recruited by the APS in 2011–12.

Supporting Indigenous employees

The Commission continued to support Indigenous employees through a range of professional development and networking opportunities:

  • The Indigenous Career Trek program delivers tailored learning and development programs to Indigenous employees across Australia. In 2011–12, 277 Indigenous employees participated in the program, which focused on career development and advancement.
  • Sixteen Indigenous employees participated in a leadership excellence program designed to support the ongoing career development of Indigenous Australians into senior leadership positions. A further 84 Indigenous APS employees were provided with the opportunity to undertake a nationally recognised qualification.
  • In September 2011, the Commission hosted its fourth National Indigenous Employees Conference in Adelaide. The conference is an important mechanism to discuss issues affecting Indigenous employees and provide them with information and advice to support their APS career.
  • The Commission also continued to support alumni network events for new and former graduates, cadets and trainees to support their transition to the APS and to support Indigenous staff networks nationally.
Supporting employers

The Commission continued to support agencies to refine their Indigenous employment strategies and coordinate opportunities for agencies to share what works to improve Indigenous employment. This was achieved through the coordination of quarterly Indigenous employment forums and the Indigenous Liaison Officer function.

The Commission also updated and relaunched the Building an Indigenous Employment Strategy kit, which provides a range of information and ideas about what has worked to improve Indigenous employment.

Capability reviews

In response to recommendation 8.1 of the Blueprint, the Commission established the capability reviews program. The objective of the program is to support agencies to build a strong and capable APS. The reviews provide an assessment of capability and identify gaps that require further development as well as examples of better practice that can be highlighted and shared.

During the pilot phase of the program in 2011, three agency reviews were conducted. These pilots confirmed that the reviews are well received and the recommendations provide a sound platform for driving capability development though targeted business improvement programs. Following the pilot phase, the government agreed to the full implementation of the program. The Commission has worked with three more agencies to conduct reviews in this second tranche in 2011–12.

In addition to conducting the reviews, the Commission is working to support reviewed agencies to develop action plans and is monitoring improvements in agency capability through a quarterly reporting process linked to the action plans.

In 2011–12 the Commission also began work to identify APS-wide themes that are emerging through agency capability reviews. Identifying, addressing and leveraging off these themes will contribute to building a high-performing, innovative and agile APS. This work will continue as the remaining 17 departments and three large agencies participate in the reviews.

Policy advice and employment services

The Commission provides a range of policy advice and employment services to APS employees and agencies to assist them to meet their legislative responsibilities, including on matters covered by the PS Act.

SES engagements, promotions and termination of employment casework

The Commissioner has a number of responsibilities that relate to SES staffing arrangements, including endorsing selection exercises, agreeing to amounts proposed to be paid as incentives to retire under section 37 of the PS Act, and termination.

In 2011–12, 240 selection exercises were submitted for the Commissioner’s consideration, all of which were endorsed. There were 69 retirements with an incentive under section 37 in 2011–12, compared to 35 in the previous year. These cases were spread across 24 agencies.

Before an SES employee’s employment can be terminated under section 29 of the PS Act, the agency must request the Commissioner to issue a certificate under section 38 of the PS Act, certifying that the Commission is satisfied that the requirements of the Commissioner’s Directions have been met and the termination is in the public interest. There was no such request in 2011–12.

Machinery of government changes

The Commission managed 29 machinery of government changes in 2011–12. The most significant changes included:

  • the merger of Centrelink and Medicare Australia into the Department of Human Services
  • the movement of the arts and sport functions from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport
  • the movement of the higher education function from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

Two agencies, the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator and the Australian Building and Construction Commission, were abolished and were replaced by two new bodies, the Clean Energy Regulator and the Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate respectively. A further two non-APS agencies, the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Australian Institute of Criminology, moved into APS coverage during 2011–12.

In addition, there were a number of new APS agencies established during 2011–12, many of which involved the movement of functions and staff from other agencies and/or jurisdictions. These new agencies include the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the Australian Skills Quality Authority, the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, the National Health Funding Body, the National Health Performance Authority, the National Mental Health Commission and the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.

Merit-based selection of APS agency heads and statutory office holders

The publication Merit and Transparency: Merit-based selection of APS agency heads and APS statutory office holders sets out the government’s policy and procedural guidelines relating to the transparent and merit-based processes to be applied in the selection of most APS agency heads and other statutory office holders working in, or in conjunction with, APS agencies.

Selection processes conducted under the policy resulted in 50 appointments to agency head and other statutory offices in 2011–12.

Employment Policy Adviceline

Up to 29 February 2012, the Commission provided advice to Commonwealth employment agencies on a range of employment policy matters through the Employment Policy Adviceline. On 1 March 2012, this service was replaced by a more targeted facility: agencies were provided with the contact details of staff with expertise in the key advice areas of employment policy, including SES and non-SES recruitment, selection and separation, machinery of government changes, workforce classifications and work-level standards, and terms and conditions of employment.

Table 6 details the main categories of Employment Policy Adviceline inquiries in 2011–12 and the previous two years.

Table 6: Main categories of Employment Policy Adviceline inquiries, 2009–10 to 2011–12
Inquiry category 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12
Agency head/statutory office holder selection 14 8 3
Staffing matters 813 825 706
General legislative issues 134 157 45
Separations 215 195 184
Conditions/entitlements 193 110 192
Review matters 75 50 32
APS Values/Code of Conduct 102 77 71
Workplace diversity issues 31 51 8
SES matters 95 55 107
Mobility/reciprocal mobility with other jurisdictions 24 34 26
Competencies/qualifications 5 12 19
Bargaining matters na 305 88
Other 323 341 232
Total 2,024 2,220 1,713

APS redeployment policy and register

The APS-wide online redeployment register was established in May 2011 to assist employees who have been advised that they are, or are likely to be, excess to the requirements of their agency.

At 30 June 2012, 285 employees had been referred to the online register. Of these, 53 were redeployed within the APS while 170 employees remain on the register. The remaining staff were either retrenched by their agency or separated from the APS on other grounds.

Towards the end of 2011–12, the Commission introduced separate arrangements to better manage displaced SES employees across the APS. These arrangements are aimed at those displaced SES employees who wish to remain in the APS rather than accept an incentive to retire payment under section 37 of the PS Act. These arrangements are to operate for an interim period of six months (until 24 December 2012) and will be subject to further review at that point.

Senior Executive Service advisory service

The Commission’s SES adviser provides SES employees across the APS with an avenue to seek confidential advice from a senior member of the Commission about employment matters.

In 2011–12, the SES adviser responded to 44 such queries (47 in 2010–11).

Agency employment services

In 2011–12, the Commission continued to provide employment services to APS agencies. These services are provided on behalf of the Commissioner and the Merit Protection Commissioner and include activities related to the recruitment and selection of staff and the provision of advice that promotes best practice and ensures that legislative requirements are met. The national APS Recruitment and Selection services function is managed through the Commission’s New South Wales regional office and assignments are undertaken by a team of non-ongoing, casual staff.

A total of 726 employment-related requests were received in 2011–12. Requests included the constitution, convening and membership of independent selection advisory committees, provision of panel members for selection advisory committees and scribing assignments. During the period, 664 jobs were completed, including both those lodged in 2010–11 and completed in 2011–12 and requests lodged and completed in 2011–12. A further 59 requests were lodged but withdrawn by the agency before completion.

Performance management project

Recommendation 7.4 of the Blueprint tasked the Commission with developing a high-performance APS culture. During the reporting period, the Commission launched an APS-wide Performance Management Project with the Australian National University, the University of Canberra and the University of New South Wales and enlisted a group of representative agencies to act as performance management case studies. The project team undertook international and domestic research on best practice performance management and presented it in a research piece ‘Developing high performance: Performance management in the APS’. It has disseminated this research to more than 64 agencies through the Performance Management Network and also collected APS-wide data on performance management for the first time through the State of the Service Report with over 160,000 APS employees invited to participate.

APSjobs—the electronic APS Employment Gazette

The Commission’s APS Employment Gazette—APSjobs—is an online employment portal for the APS.

During 2011–12 the Commission collaborated with agencies to enhance APSjobs. The portal now provides agencies with improved functionality and new technology to support recruitment efforts. Features of the new portal include a graduate portal—APSjobsTV—featuring agency promotional videos and APS employee stories, the ability for APS agencies to post employment opportunities daily, and improved navigation and ease of use for applicants.

In 2011–12 the number of notices lodged on APSjobs decreased by 8.47% compared to the number lodged in 2010–11 (see Table 7).

Table 7: Comparative number of gazette notices lodged, 2008–09 to 2011–12
Year Number of notices lodged Percentage difference on previous year
2008–09 41,670 –24.81
2009–10 38,214 –8.29
2010–11 46,163 +20.82
2011–12 42,254 –8.47

Additionally, APSjobs regularly sends email alerts to more than 9,950 users (8,600 in 2010–11).

Career expos and trade fairs

The Commission actively promoted the APS as an employer of choice at various career expos and employment trade fairs during the year.

Data analysis and benchmarking

The Commission through its statistical analysis and research capability advises the APS and its leadership on emerging workforce challenges and seeks opportunities to benchmark APS performance against comparable overseas jurisdictions.

APS Statistical Bulletin

The APS Statistical Bulletin 2010–11 provides a snapshot of APS-wide staffing as at 30 June 2011, and of staff movements during 2010–11. It also provides summary data for the past 15 years. The bulletin contains information useful to agencies in benchmarking themselves against APS-wide trends. It is distributed to all APS agency heads, state and territory public service commissioners, New Zealand’s State Services Commissioner and leading public and tertiary education libraries. It is available in hard copy and from the Commission’s website.

APS Employment Database

The Commission collects and analyses workforce statistics to assist in identifying significant workforce challenges for the APS and help agencies to develop and benchmark their workforce planning strategies. The Commission maintains the APS Employment Database (APSED), which is the central information source on trends in APS employment.

APSED is an important tool for ensuring cross-service accountability, especially for the State of the Service Report.

APSED is also used extensively for research. For example, during 2011–12, it was used to support media and parliamentary inquiries through the Minister’s Office, as well as analysis of the demographics of staff accepting retrenchments across agencies, and research on workforce trends in diversity groups.

A selection of summary tables for December 2011 is available on the Commission’s website. This initiative ensures that the most up-to-date information on APS staffing numbers is available.

APSED Internet Interface

The APSED Internet Interface (APSEDII) promotes better practice in workforce planning and benchmarking by enabling users to produce data similar to that published in the APS Statistical Bulletin. APSEDII users can also produce cross-tabulation data and download the results for further analysis. More than 100 users in some 50 agencies can access more detailed information on APSEDII through a secure logon and password procedure. Designated users can examine unit record information for employees in their agency to improve workforce planning and enhance data quality. In 2011–12, more than 5,100 queries were run.

Scoping work has begun on adding a number of metrics to APSEDII and additional functionality is expected to be implemented by February 2013 as part of the December 2012 data release.

APS remuneration survey

A remuneration survey of APS employees is conducted annually. The survey provides participating agencies with agency-specific and APS-wide data that informs their remuneration practices. An annual snapshot of remuneration across the APS on 31 December each year is produced in the form of a report that provides information on remuneration by classification level as well as changes in remuneration compared to the previous year.

In 2011–12, the Commission brought the survey and preparation of the report in house as part of a memorandum of understanding with agencies.

The 2011 APS Remuneration Report provides the survey results, including base salary and other remuneration-related benefits and payments, for the 2011 calendar year.

State of the Service Report

Under section 44(2) of the PS Act, the Commissioner is required to report annually on the state of the APS. The State of the Service Report is an authoritative source of data and information on the changing workforce trends of the APS. It is frequently cited by public policy academics nationally and internationally, and is an important reference for the APS more generally, especially for departmental executives, human resource managers and Commission staff.

The 2010–11 State of the Service Report was tabled in Parliament in November 2011. The report had three themes: leadership and culture, human capital management and organisational effectiveness.

The 2010–11 report outlined some areas in which progress had been made against implementation of the Blueprint initiatives and identified areas in which there was still work to be done, particularly concerning workforce diversity. The evidence in the report suggested that agencies overall are moving in the right direction.

The report is available on the Commission’s website.

Data sources

In compiling the report, the Commission drew on a wide range of data sources. These included the Commission’s own research and databases (particularly APSED), published and unpublished material from other agencies, Australian National Audit Office reports and, where available, comparable data from other Australian and international jurisdictions.

The Commission also conducted two surveys that contributed to the report:

  • the agency survey, which provided information on a wide range of management and capability issues in agencies with 20 or more employees. The Commission conducted the agency survey online and achieved a response rate of 100% from the 97 agencies in scope
  • the employee survey, sent to randomly selected employees, which provided data on attitudes to, and understanding of, a variety of issues, including work–life balance, job satisfaction, working with external stakeholders, the APS Values and Code of Conduct, diversity, individual performance management, and harassment and bullying. For the 2011 survey the sample size was significantly increased so that more agencies could be provided with agency-specific results. The voluntary survey had a high response rate of 59%.

This year, for the first time, the Commission invited micro-agencies (those with fewer than 100 employees) to participate in the micro-agency snapshot, which was a modified version of the State of the Service employee survey. The snapshot was administered over a two-week period between August and September 2011. A total of 388 employees from 13 different agencies participated in the snapshot, a response rate of 62%.

Survey reports

The Commission also produced a summary booklet, At a Glance: State of the Service Series 2010–11, and the State of the Service employee survey results 2010–11. The micro-agency survey results were published in February 2012. All publications are available on the Commission’s website.

For 2010–11 the Commission provided agency-specific reports of the employee survey results to heads of all agencies with at least 200 employees. These reports summarised the agencies’ own employee responses and compared them with the APS-wide results. Statistically significant differences were identified. Small agencies were provided with a benchmark summary of all small agencies.

A separate agency benchmarking report was distributed to agencies with 200 or more employees. The report provided each agency’s results benchmarked not only against the APS average, but also against the public services in the United Kingdom and United States and, where available, the private sector.

These national and international benchmarks provide agencies with a context for understanding their results in relation to leadership, work–life balance, learning and development, performance feedback and accountability, and career progression. These areas have been identified across the APS as requiring targeted effort to improve levels of employee engagement.

Evaluation

To evaluate readers’ perceptions of the 2010–11 State of the Service Report, a short questionnaire was made available through the Commission’s website. The questionnaire asked readers for their general impressions of the report, the usefulness of the chapters and any additional comments. The feedback—from 62 respondents—was generally positive. Around 84% of respondents agreed that the report is a useful resource and 79% were satisfied with the quality of the report and agreed that it adequately evaluated the state of the APS.

Planning for next report

The three themes for the 2011–12 State of the Service Report will be the same as those for the last two reports, which followed the broad direction of the Blueprint. State of the Service reports will continue to be an important evidence source for assessing how well the APS is performing in the key areas of reform identified in the Blueprint.

For the first time, in 2012 the State of the Service employee survey has been conducted as a census, with more than 160,000 APS employees invited to participate. The census, which was in the field for a month, achieved a response rate of 55% (more than 87,000 responses). While a stratified random sample has provided reliable results at an APS-wide level in previous years, the results of this year’s census will provide more reliable results for smaller demographic groups (such as Indigenous employees, employees with disability and SES employees) and more reliable reporting at an agency level.

Merit Protection and other services

The Merit Protection Commissioner’s functions are set out in section 50 of the PS Act. The Merit Protection Commissioner and the Public Service Commissioner have a memorandum of understanding for the provision of staff necessary to assist the Merit Protection Commissioner in performing her statutory functions. As a result, the costs of the office of the Merit Protection Commissioner are included in the Commissioner’s financial statements.

Support for the Merit Protection Commissioner’s review and fee-for-service functions is provided by staff in the Ethics and Client Engagement groups in the Commission’s Sydney office. The Merit Protection Commissioner’s delegates for her review functions are largely based in the Ethics Group in Canberra, which also provides coordination and policy support for the Merit Protection Commissioner.

A report on the performance of these functions is contained in the Merit Protection Commissioner’s annual report in Part 5.

Program 1.1—component 1.1.2: Investing in APS development and capability

Objectives

The leaders of the Australian Public Service shape its culture and values, so developing APS workforce and leadership capability is critical to improving its performance. Strong and effective leadership skills, supported by investment in learning and development, are essential components in building a high-performing, innovative and agile APS.

The Commission’s objectives under this program component in 2011–12 were to:

  • reinvigorate strategic leadership capability by
    • identifying high-quality, strategically aligned leadership programs that produce the skills agencies and the APS need, deliver value for money and minimise the duplication of leadership development activities
    • investing in the talent management of top performers in the APS
  • support, guide and encourage APS agencies to invest as required in the capability development of their people, to raise overall APS capability
  • provide APS agencies with access to thought leadership and guidance on how to enhance leadership development and talent management
  • support agencies via a suite of core learning and development programs and deliver cost-effective APS products and services
  • support leadership, learning and development opportunities that build knowledge, capabilities, skills and behaviours through international programs.

Achievements

During 2011–12, the Commission:

  • developed the APS Leadership Development Strategy and began to refresh the entire suite of SES leadership development programs and pilot new talent management programs
  • implemented a learning and development community of practice
  • in collaboration with SES and learning and development specialists from across the APS, developed and established a delivery model for the refreshed SES orientation program, scheduled to begin in July 2012
  • conducted a review of the Leading Australia’s future in Asia program within the framework of the APS Leadership Development Strategy
  • partnered with Jawun (a not-for-profit organisation) 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
  • commenced work on developing of an APS Core Skills Strategy, which identifies areas of focus for the Commission in contributing to the ongoing improvement of the core capability of the APS
  • delivered more than 550 leadership and core skills learning and development programs through its learning facility in Canberra, in agencies’ premises and residential programs
  • won the Best Graduate Development Program award at the Australian Association of Graduate Employers Graduate Recruitment Industry Awards
  • assisted 84 graduates to successfully complete the Commission’s Graduate Development Program and receive a Diploma of Government qualification, awarded by the Commission’s registered training organisation.

Key performance indicators

Table 8 summarises the performance of program component 1.1.2 against its key performance indicators for 2011–12 and the previous two years.

Table 8: Summary of program component 1.1.2’s performance against key performance indicators, 2009–10 to 2011–12
Key performance indicator 2009–10 Actual (%) 2010–11 Actual (%) 2011–12
Target (%) Actual (%)

na = not available.

* This was a new measure in 2009–10.

Percentage of responding surveyed participants who consider that Commission programs have equipped them with the knowledge and skills they need in order to perform their roles more effectively 89 88 85 90
Percentage of responding surveyed participants who consider that Commission program learning objectives were met effectively 87 89 85 90
Percentage of responding surveyed participants who agreed that attending Commission programs and/or events assisted in building their awareness of issues, developments and priorities to enable them to work more effectively 90 84 85 90
Percentage of responding surveyed participants who agreed that attending Commission leadership development activities increased their leadership skill, capability and knowledge* na 89 85 89

The 2011–12 Portfolio Budget Statements included new performance indicators for program component 1.1.2:

  • APS has sufficient leadership capability to meet current and future business requirements—to become more citizen-centric, be able to solve complex problems, operate as one APS, anticipate challenges and implement effectively
  • assurance that the leadership development system creates effective leaders
  • APS agencies have access to thought leadership and guidance on how to enhance agency-specific leadership development
  • APS agencies have access to high-quality, strategically aligned leadership programs which deliver the skills agencies and the APS need
  • the learning and development programs lead to increased choice, opportunity and better work performance
  • increasing the acquisition of skills and knowledge leads to better service delivery within the APS
  • degree of satisfaction of the Secretaries Board with the progress in implementing the Blueprint recommendations where the Commission is lead agency.

Deliverables

The Commission’s key deliverables for program component 1.1.2 in 2011–12 were:

  • a leadership development strategy based on current and emerging priorities oversighted by the Centre for Leadership and Learning Advisory Board
  • the identification of aligned contemporary leadership programs and (where of value) the central procurement of programs
  • quality assessments of professional development programs and providers and improved evaluation of program outcomes
  • thought leadership and support and advice for agencies and APS leaders, in identifying and nurturing top talent across the APS and providing opportunities to develop high-performing individuals
  • the delivery of leadership development programs (including those used as part of the approach to talent management) as identified by the Centre for Leadership and Learning and the Secretaries Board
  • leadership, learning and development programs that build knowledge, capabilities, skills and behaviours, consistent with the Blueprint recommendations
  • support for leadership excellence through international programs and work with the states and territories on public sector educational training needs.

Table 9 summarises the performance of program component 1.1.2 against its deliverables for 2011–12 and the previous two years.

Table 9: Summary of program component 1.1.2’s performance against deliverables, 2009–10 to 2011–12
Deliverables 2009–10 Actual 2010–11 Actual 2011–12 Target actual

nm = new measure; na = not applicable.

* The 2009–10 actual amount includes SES programs as well as events: all other amounts include only events.

† The 2011–12 target amount does not include programs delivered on agencies’ premises; all actual totals include programs delivered on agencies’ premises.

** 295 new SES were gazetted during 2011–12. Of the 190 who attended the SES orientation program in 2011–12, 80 were gazetted during the 2011–12 period.

Number of seminars and forums delivered* 131 33 30 35
Number of leadership programs delivered 55 54 78 48
Number of agencies using the capability development panel (formerly known as the leadership learning and development panel) to deliver training 60 58 58 66
Number of APS 1–6 and Executive Level programs delivered† 603 484 270 507
Percentage of agencies engaged through at least one scheduled event, activity or network focused on leadership 78% 85% 75% 88%
Percentage of new SES attending orientation program** 42% 26% 80% 27%
Percentage of SES and Executive Level programs that were rated 5 or 6 on a 6-point scale for relevance, usefulness and administration and coordination 88% 84% 85% 89%
Percentage of panel services that were rated 5 or 6 on a 6-point scale for how well the program was delivered and coordinated 94% 80% 85% 85%
Number of APS agencies using accreditation services nm 38 30 34
Manage SES high-potential program for target number of participants (to be determined by Centre for Leadership and Learning Advisory Board). nm na As agreed 23

Leadership, learning and development

The Centre for Leadership and Learning had its first full year of operation in 2011–12. The Centre for Leadership and Learning works closely with the Commission’s learning program delivery group, APS Professional Development Services, to:

  • enhance the capability of APS leaders (current and future)
  • enhance the core skills of the APS workforce
  • continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the APS leader and core skills development system
  • support APS agencies to enhance their own leadership development and learning and development practice.

Advisory board

The Centre for Leadership and Learning’s operations are overseen by its Advisory Board, which is chaired by the Commissioner and comprises four secretaries, two agency heads and three external experts. The Advisory Board meets quarterly and provides strategic advice, direction and oversight of the Centre for Leadership and Learning’s activities.

APS Leadership Development Strategy

During 2011–12, the Commission began to implement the APS Leadership Development Strategy (2011). The strategy identified the changing nature of the APS and its challenges, the leadership requirements generated by this changing environment and the leadership capabilities needed to ensure that leaders are fully equipped to successfully address these challenges.

Implementation of the strategy focused on SES leadership development and included:

  • redesign of the approach to orientation of the SES
  • introduction of the talent management approach
  • review of the Leading Australia’s future in Asia program
  • commencement of a redesign of SES learning programs
  • support for the enhancement of leadership development and learning and development across the APS through a learning and development community of practice.

During 2011–12, the strategy was revised to ensure emerging business challenges were identified and their subsequent leadership capability requirements addressed.

Talent management

During 2011–12, the Commission designed and implemented an APS-wide approach to talent management. Talent management is a systematic approach to ensuring a sustainable pool of talented people for key focus areas. It includes the identification of focus areas that are critical to the APS and the identification and development of a pool of high-potential people from which these focus areas might be filled.1

Implementation of the talent management approach began with the pilot of an SES Band 2 talent management program. The program involves the identification of high-performing, high-potential SES Band 2s for intensive leadership development. The objective of the program is to help ensure the APS has adequate ‘bench strength’ for more senior levels of the APS. The program involves assessment of the participants’ strengths and learning needs and their participation in a tailored and challenging learning program over a period of 12 months. The mid-term evaluation undertaken in June 2012 shows the program is meeting its objectives. A full evaluation will be undertaken at the completion of the program in late 2012.

Implementation of the approach has also included:

  • design of a talent management approach for SES Band 3 employees. This program will be conducted during 2012–13
  • identification of high-performing, high-potential Executive Level employees for the Sir Roland Wilson program, a scholarship jointly funded by the APS and the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation at the Australian National University for PhD scholars in areas of critical interest to the APS
  • identification of high-potential Executive Level employees to participate in Indigenous community placements. In partnership with Jawun, the Commission coordinates the secondment of APS employees for projects within Indigenous communities. The program results in positive outcomes for communities, and creates opportunities for personal awareness and development for participating individuals as well as enhancing cultural awareness within the APS.

Future directions

In 2012–13, the Commission will continue to work towards its objectives to enhance APS leadership and core skills, enhance the efficiency of the leadership development system and continue to support agencies in their learning and development practice. The next iteration of the APS Leadership Development Strategy will be implemented, and will include the finalisation and launch of new SES leadership development programs, a refresh of management skills programs and Executive Level talent development. The APS Core Skills Strategy will also be implemented in 2012–13.

SES leadership programs and services

The Commission continued to provide SES leadership development opportunities in 2011–12 through a suite of programs and forums, summarised in Table 10.

In 2011–12 work began to develop a new suite of leadership programs to be implemented during 2012–13. The new programs will contribute to the achievement of the objective of the APS Leadership Development Strategy: to develop leaders with the capability to manage and lead in the changing business environment facing the APS. Leaders will need to become more citizen-centric, be able to solve complex problems, be alert to the need to operate as one APS, anticipate challenges, and implement policies and programs effectively. The new suite of programs is based on the knowing–doing–being framework outlined in the strategy and takes into account emerging strategic priorities for the APS, notably the place of Australia in the Asian century.

Table 10: Senior Executive Service programs and forums, 2011–12
Program title Content/focus Number Attendance
Leadership mastery This program builds the capability of SES Band 3s to lead the APS now and into the future by enhancing leadership skills at the highest level 1 12
Leading across boundaries This program strengthens the development of whole-of-government leadership capabilities for SES Band 2s 2 39
New leadership horizons This program assists SES Band 1s who have been appointed in the past three years to gain confidence in their new roles and leverage their experience to make a significant contribution to their organisation and across the APS 4 55
Transforming leadership This program is designed for the SES with three or more years’ experience at Band 1 level and aims to enhance leadership capability by helping participants to identify, share and leverage their considerable experience in the APS 3 46
SES breakfast seminar series These seminars provide a forum for participants to talk with speakers and colleagues about contemporary issues that often lie outside their areas of direct responsibility and to discuss matters that span major areas of public debate 6 272
Leader to leader series This series is an opportunity for the SES to hear from heads of departments and agencies on their leadership experiences and challenges in the context of public sector reforms. These events also provide senior APS leaders with a valuable opportunity to meet and network with their colleagues. Participants have the opportunity to ask questions of guest speakers and discuss issues further 5 223
New directions—ministers’ views This program gives agency heads and senior executives the opportunity to hear directly from ministers about their current policy perspectives, and their expectations of the public service in implementing government policy in a whole-of-government context 3 222
SES orientation This program provides senior executives with information and networking opportunities to help them operate effectively in the APS environment 8 190

SES orientation

In 2011–12, the Commission offered an SES orientation program that focused on SES employees promoted within or appointed to the APS and their equivalent officers in statutory organisations. This program provided senior executives with information and networking opportunities to help them operate effectively in the APS environment.

During 2011–12, the Commission delivered eight SES orientation programs to 190 senior executives. The program is open to all newly promoted or appointed SES employees. Many attend within the year of their promotion; however, others may have been in the role for some time before attending the program. Attendance at the program is not compulsory, and many agencies offer their own in-house on-boarding programs. These factors all had an impact on the percentage of SES employees attending the program during 2011–12, which was 27%.

During 2011–12, through wide consultation across the APS, including with SES employees who had attended the Commission’s SES orientation program in the previous 12 months, a new SES orientation program was finalised and ready for implementation in July 2012. The program closely reflects the needs of new SES adjusting to their new role, and of SES employees who are new to the APS. It is based on the APS Leadership Development Strategy, including the ‘70/20/10’ principle—that only about 10% of learning occurs in the classroom, while 20% occurs through relationships and networks and about 70% is experiential and occurs on the job. The new program is conducted over a six-month period, and includes regular networking events, e-learning and classroom-based learning.

SES special events

In addition to the scheduled SES events program outlined in Table 10, during 2011–12 five special SES events took place, covering a diverse range of topics:

  • Ms Lynelle Briggs, former Chief Executive, Medicare, gave a valedictory lecture.
  • Mr Rolf Alter, Director, Public Governance and Territorial Development, OECD, presented ‘Public sector performance in Australia: at a glance’.
  • The Honourable Jocelyne Bourgon PC, OC, launched her book A New Synthesis of Public Administration: Serving in the 21st century.
  • Ms Leah Soroka, Director of Science and Technology, Health Canada, presented ‘Foresight: the emerging better practice trend in Health Canada’.
  • For International Women’s Day, Ms Julie McKay, Executive Director, UN Women Australia, and Ms Robyn Clough, Manager, Public Policy and Thought Leadership, Australian Institute of Management, presented the Australian Institute of Management – UN Women Australia’s White Paper, ‘Gender diversity in management: targeting untapped talent’.

Ms Lynelle Briggs, former Chief Executive, Medicare, on the occasion of her valedictory address with Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO, Public Service Commissioner, and Mr Terry Moran AC, former Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Executive level programs and services development

The Commission provides Executive Level employees, the critical SES feeder group, with relevant learning and development programs that build essential APS knowledge and capabilities. Programs cover a range of key capability areas that include leadership, strategic thinking, policy development, stakeholder engagement, communications, people management, self-development, financial management, and governance and regulation.

Executive Level programs

The Commission delivered 136 EL programs in Canberra during 2011–12.

The Commission also provides a number of specialised residential and non-residential leadership programs for EL employees. Table 11 summarises the main programs offered in 2011–12.

Table 11: Executive Level leadership residential and non-residential programs, 2011–12
Program title Content/focus Number Attendance
Executive leadership dimensions This program focuses on practical aspects of leadership in the APS and provides an opportunity for participants to reflect on their professional role and the contemporary behaviours needed to be a highly effective EL 2 leader 6 127
APS professional practical leadership This program has been designed for EL 1s who currently manage or will soon manage a small to medium-sized team. The program has a focus on contemporary thinking about how to manage performance in a public sector environment 6 137
The professional public service: An EL 1 master class This program has been designed for EL 1s who wish to fine-tune and advance their strategic thinking and policy advising skills in the context of a contemporary APS 5 118
Career Development Assessment Centre This program delivers assessment services to high-potential and high-performing EL 2 officers across the APS. 12 140

Expertise development programs

The Commission offers programs for the SES and SES feeder groups to develop their knowledge and skills in specific areas. These programs assist participants to embrace new roles, responsibilities and professional challenges.

The programs held during the year are summarised in Table 12.

Table 12: Expertise development programs, 2011–12
Program title Content/focus Number Attendance
Briefing APS decision-makers and ministers This program focuses on decision-making and covers the skills required to design, develop and deliver a briefing to get a decision. It covers the development and role of question time briefs, ministerial talking points for media engagements, ministerial adviser briefings, hot issues briefing, ministerial submissions and second reading speeches 6 97
Developing cabinet submissions This intensive one-day program draws from the knowledge of expert facilitators and presenters who can provide insight and techniques for developing cabinet submissions that clearly advocate innovative solutions to contemporary challenges, articulate genuine options and meet the government’s goals for policy development and implementation 6 111
Learn to be an effective coach This program is paced over a six-week period, which enables participants to use their new skills in learning activities conducted between the workshops. Each workshop is specifically targeted at building staff capability and productivity 2 18
Mastering your financial environment Designed in conjunction with the Department of Finance and Deregulation, this program focuses on the essentials of government finance from an agency perspective 2 37
Preparing to appear before parliamentary committees This program focuses on building confidence, public presentation skills and personal communication skills to support executives who may appear at Senate Estimates hearings 7 38

Executive Level Leadership Network

The Executive Level Leadership Network provides an opportunity for EL employees from across the APS to come together to strengthen their leadership practice by hearing from a range of engaging speakers with diverse perspectives, sharing insights and experiences with colleagues, and building collaborative networks. In 2011–12 five seminar events and a full-day annual forum were held. Network events catered for 423 different participants representing 68 Commonwealth and ACT government agencies.

Seminar speakers and topics were:

  • Ms Nan Fife, Political Counselor at the US Embassy in Canberra, ‘Successes and challenges of US–Australian cooperation’
  • Mr Richard Rochefort, Vice President of Program Operations, Canada School of Public Service, ‘Achieving service delivery excellence: Service Canada, people serving people’
  • Ms Melissa Ryan, General Manager, Comcare, and Ms Ingrid Ozols, Managing Director, Mentalhealth@work, ‘Work, individual health and community factors—are they interrelated?’
  • Mr David Albury, Board Director, The Innovation Unit, United Kingdom, ‘Innovation under tight budgets’
  • Ms Barbara Baikie, networking and coaching consultant, ‘Connecting the dots: making networking work’.

The highlight of the year was the network’s annual forum with this year’s topic on ‘Leading in complex and uncertain times’, which attracted 235 delegates. Keynote speakers were the Commissioner, Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO, talent management expert Mr James Adonis, and acclaimed author Mr Anh Do.

Career Development Assessment Centre

The Career Development Assessment Centre continues to deliver assessment services to high-potential and high-performing EL 2 officers across the APS. Many agencies have developed their own internal frameworks to support the identification of these staff. The centre is facilitated by organisational psychologists, and collects 360-degree workplace feedback as well as behavioural feedback from SES Band 2 and 3 observers on participants’ performance during simulated exercises. Participants are then supported by their agencies to undertake a range of learning and development interventions, through a development plan, to address the needs identified through their participation at the centre.

In 2011–12, 12 sessions were conducted at the centre, with 140 participants from 37 agencies.

APS learning and development programs and services

During 2011–12, the Commission continued to work in partnership with APS agencies to build capability by strengthening the knowledge, skills and experience of non-SES employees. Approaches included a suite of core skill, leadership and specialist programs offered through the Commission’s Woden Training Centre, tailored in-house delivery to agencies and residential settings.

The Commission’s evaluations of its learning and development programs and services included gathering evaluation data from clients and consultants, analysing program and event data and working in consultation with agencies to better meet their organisational challenges.

Induction and graduate programs

APS induction

The APS induction program equips employees with a broad understanding of the role of the APS in serving the Australian Government, the Parliament and the public. The program aims to give new APS members the wider contextual knowledge they need to be effective public servants. APS induction is currently offered as a facilitated half-day training program. The Commission has recently developed a revised online version of the induction program, which will be launched on the website once stakeholder feedback has been incorporated.

The graduate networking event A taste of government was held on 21 March 2012. Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO, Public Service Commissioner, and Dr Ian Watt AO, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet are shown sharing their experiences in the APS with graduates during this interactive and informative seminar.

Graduate development

In November 2011, the Commission’s Graduate Development Program won the Australian Association of Graduate Employers award for the Best Graduate Development Program at the association’s Graduate Recruitment Industry Awards. Other finalists in the category included BHP Billiton, Brisbane City Council and Orica. The Commission’s winning program incorporates 21 face-to-face training days, a major project and DVD, four whole-of-government networking events and, upon successful completion, a Diploma of Government issued by the Commission.

The 84 graduates participating in the 2011 program were presented with their Diploma of Government and Graduate Development Program certificates by the Public Service Commissioner and senior representatives of their agencies at a graduation ceremony in December 2012. The 2012 program has 70 participants from nine agencies.

Graduate Development Program, December 2012, winner Major Project Video Presentation Award, Comcare project topic: ‘The impact of secondary mental health conditions in the recovery of physical injuries’.

Graduate events

Altogether, the Commission delivered four whole-of-government networking events for graduates in 2011–12, with an average of 740 participants attending. These events provided graduates with a valuable insight into the APS and its senior managers in an interactive and entertaining manner.

On 2 August 2011, the graduates participated in a debate on the topic ‘I’m blogged ... social media: Is the government on board?’ The winning team progressed to a debate with a panel of secretaries on the topic ‘Talkin’ about my generation: Is Gen Y going to “rock” because the Baby Boomers are going to “roll”?’.

The Great APS Graduate Debate, stage one: (left to right) Mr Adam Spencer, debate host, with the graduate debating team— Ms Frances Bevan (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), Ms Elizabeth Sinclair (Comcare), Mr Jeremy Strasser (Attorney-General’s Department), Mr William Witheridge (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet) and Ms Tess McSpedden (AusAID)—and Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO, Public Service Commissioner.

APS 1–6 programs and services

The Commission continues to support capability building through a comprehensive and coordinated suite of leadership and core skills programs for APS 1–6 employees. These programs and events aim to develop the capability of APS employees to deliver on government priorities, objectives and outcomes.

The Commission delivered 211 APS 1–6 programs in Canberra during 2011–12.

Accreditation services

The Commission has operated as a registered training organisation since 1 July 2008 and offers accreditation services in the qualifications of:

  • Certificate IV in Government
  • Certificate IV in Government (Workplace Relations)
  • Certificate IV in Government (Injury Rehabilitation Management)
  • Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
  • Diploma of Government
  • Diploma of Government (Procurement and Contracting)
  • Diploma of Government (Management).

At 30 June 2012, 202 APS employees were undertaking qualifications through the Commission, and 225 employees completed qualifications in 2011–12.

The Commission worked closely with several agencies during the year to tailor and adapt qualifications and assessment options to meet agency-specific needs. For example, the Commission worked with the Attorney-General’s Department to provide a tailored graduate development program incorporating the Diploma of Government qualification.

In-house program delivery

In addition to public calendar programs, the Commission offers in-house delivery of core skills and career development programs to meet the particular needs of agencies in a flexible and cost-effective manner. These are usually delivered to an agency in its own training or meeting rooms.

The programs can be tailored to address agency-specific challenges and procedures. Facilitators delivered 160 in-house programs around Australia in 2011–12 (87 in the Australian Capital Territory and 73 in regional areas). The two most popular programs related to APS job applications and interview skills and selection panel training (Getting that selection right).

Table 13 provides a summary of programs for APS employees from 2009–10 to 2011–12.

Table 13: Programs for APS employees, 2009–10 to 2011–12
Program 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12
* Includes Career Development Assessment Centres.
ACT APS 1–6 168 153 211
ACT Executive Level 93 123 136
Executive Level 1 residential 4 4 6
Executive Level 1 non-residential 4 6 5
Executive Level 2 residential 4 4 5
Executive Level 2 non-residential 2 3 13*
ACT in-house deliveries 99 97 87
Regional programs calendar and in-house deliveries 243 94 73

Panel services

The Commission’s capability development panel includes more than 220 leading training, management and consultancy suppliers with public and private sector expertise. Through the panels, programs and services are customised to meet specific needs of agencies.

Agencies that use the Commission’s panels benefit from a reduction in costs and greater efficiency in procuring services. The panels satisfy the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and therefore obviate the need for agencies to undertake time-consuming and costly tender processes. Agencies also have the confidence that the firms on the panels have been rigorously assessed against their key areas of expertise and are subject to ongoing quality assurance through regular evaluations.

To complement new methods of program development and delivery, the Commission also has an e-learning support and solutions panel, made up of 21 specialist e-learning firms.

The Commission also has an executive search and recruitment panel consisting of 34 providers. The panel was established to assist agencies with specialist executive search and recruitment needs.

Because the panel services framework has changed over time, data is now being presented in this report on the number of contracts entered into through panel services rather than, as in previous years, on programs presented.

Table 14 provides details of contracts entered into by agencies for panel service programs delivered from 2010–11 to 2011–12 and a further breakdown of the contracts for each panel and sub-panel.

Table 14 Panel service contracts entered into, 2010–11 and 2011–12
Panel Contracts entered into
2010–11 2011–12
e-learning panel 21 40
Executive search and recruitment panel 0 19
Capability development panel 445 418
Total contracts for all panels 466 477
The capability development panel consists of the following sub-panels:
Leadership 74 82
Learning 286 252
Development 25 24
Business consultancy 60 60
Total 445 418

Supporting forums and networks

The Commission delivers the Heads of Corporate and HR Leaders forums in Canberra throughout the year. The forums underwent a significant refresh of their terms of reference during the reporting period, resulting in the endorsement of members for these networks to develop deeper focus on human capital themes. A new delivery format provided presenters with more time to develop their theme and a workshop session to gain authentic and practical input from participants.

Heads of Corporate Forum

The membership of the forum is open to SES level heads of corporate (or their equivalent) in departments and agencies. The forum facilitates open exchange between APS heads of corporate at the SES level by encouraging the flow of ideas, identifying significant strategic issues and providing opportunities for members to further develop peer relationships. The forum met four times in 2011–12.

HR Leaders Forum

The HR Leaders Forum (formerly the HR Directors Forum) is available to human resource leaders in departments and agencies. The forum provides an opportunity for practitioners to meet with colleagues from other agencies to discuss human capital issues that affect APS agencies. The forum met four times in 2011–12.

Regional forums and events

Australian Government Leadership Network

During the year, the Commission signed a new memorandum of understanding for the provision of services with the Australian Government Leadership Network, in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. Negotiations for a memorandum of understanding with Queensland and the Commission are continuing.

The Commission provided support for a number of network events throughout the year, including an annual conference for each state. This was the first time that national coordination of these conferences had occurred; it has proved to be a very successful model.

People management networks

People management networks have been established in each state and are coordinated and managed by the Commission’s regional offices. Each network operates independently, with content, format and composition managed to support the regional APS client group. The common thread across the networks is their focus on exploring people management issues in the APS.

In Western Australia, events held covered the range of information and tools available to people managers and included presentations on the State of the Service Report, GovDex, the Redeployment Register and the e-recruitment tool NGAnet.

In Victoria, the network brought together representatives of agencies in a forum to consider better practice approaches to people management, and provided the opportunity to share information on a range of human resources–related matters. In 2011–12 presentations were delivered on the following topics: introduction of the harmonised workplace health and safety laws; employee health and wellbeing; and the APS Streamlined Recruitment Project.

In Tasmania, the network held regular meetings and hosted presentations from the Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet, the APS Streamlined Recruitment Project and employee health and wellbeing.

In New South Wales, the network hosted a number of meetings and events which attracted human resource professionals and people managers from a diverse range of APS agencies. Network events provided the opportunity to hear from subject-matter specialists on best practice initiatives and showcased the work being undertaken by APS agencies. They also provided a forum for discussion and consultation. In 2011–12, events featured presentations on workforce planning, the work of the Merit Protection Commissioner, work health and safety laws and harmonisation, alternate dispute resolution, the Centre for Leadership and Learning and the APS Streamlined Recruitment Project.

In Queensland, three network meetings addressed topics including leadership, employee mobility, and career planning.

Learning and development community of practice

During 2011–12, the Commission established a new learning and development community of practice. The network regularly meets in face-to-face forums, and also participates in consultation and discussion via an online discussion forum. During 2011–12, the forum included consultation on:

  • the development of the APS Core Skills Strategy and the refresh of the APS Leadership Development Strategy
  • techniques for learning and development evaluation
  • implementing talent management in the APS.

During 2011–12, 427 people from 58 agencies participated in the community of practice network, either in person or online.

National programs and relationships with higher education institutions

Sir Roland Wilson Foundation

In 2011, the Commission managed the implementation of the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation scholarship, working in partnership with the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation at the Australian National University. In 2011, five high-potential Executive Level employees from four agencies were selected through a highly competitive process for the inaugural Sir Roland Wilson Foundation scholarships. The scholars began their studies in February 2012, and the Commission is working with the university and each scholar’s agency to provide ongoing support and mentoring. During the first half of 2012, nominations for the second round of scholarships were sought.

Australia and New Zealand School of Government

The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) is a first-tier professional school established collaboratively in 2002 by a consortium of Australian and New Zealand governments, universities and business schools to assist in developing the skills of future public sector leaders.

Since 2003, the Commission, in consultation with other agencies, has supported ANZSOG to ensure APS leaders and potential leaders are able to participate in executive education. The Commission has coordinated nominations from the APS for the following programs:

  • the Executive Fellows Program, a three-week residential for SES Band 2 and 3 employees, which in 2011 attracted 78 participants, of whom 15 (19%) were from the APS
  • the Executive Masters of Public Administration, a two-year part-time program for high-performing public sector managers, which in 2012 attracted 125 participants, of whom 25 (20%) were APS employees.

In 2011–12 the Commission continued to be responsible for administering the Deed of Agreement between the Commonwealth and ANZSOG in relation to a $10 million repayable capital grant made to ANZSOG in May 2005. In accordance with the deed, interest generated from the grant is used to support the Sir John Bunting Chair of Public Administration at the Australian National University and other academic appointments relating to research activities.

Public Sector Management Program

The Public Sector Management Program is a unique national leadership program for emerging and highly motivated mid-level managers (APS 6 to EL 2 and their equivalents) in the three tiers of government across Australia.

The program’s curriculum has been developed by academic and public sector experts and provides a mix of contemporary government case studies and challenging theoretical exercises. Participants gain an understanding of what it means to work collaboratively across the three tiers of government, which helps them to develop a greater understanding of the public sector operating environment.

The program is delivered in each state and territory to mid-level managers across the public sector and culminates in a tertiary qualification at the graduate certificate level. It is delivered through a partnership arrangement with Flinders University, which provides assessment, accreditation and curriculum development services nationally.

The Commission continued to provide the secretariat function to the program’s National Board of Management in addition to managing the National Assessment Centre for the program. The Commission has continued to deliver the program in the Australian Capital Territory, where 40 participants from the Commonwealth and ACT governments commenced a two-year program.

In March 2012 the national conference was held in Hobart, hosted by the Tasmanian Training Consortium.

A graduation ceremony and alumni event was hosted by the ACT jurisdiction in May 2012, with 77 participants graduating.

Public Sector Management Program graduation ceremony, May 2011.

International assistance and engagement

Leading Australia’s future in Asia

The Leading Australia’s future in Asia (LAFIA) program provides senior executive leaders (SES employees, and their state, territory and New Zealand government equivalents) with a unique opportunity to deepen their strategic understanding of political, economic and social trends and developments within the Asia–Pacific region, and the implications for relationships with Australia. Two study tours took place in 2011–12.

LAFIA Pacific 2011

The LAFIA Pacific 2011 tour was undertaken from 18 September to 2 October 2011. The group visited Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Samoa, combining site visits with group discussions. Fifteen senior executives from the Commonwealth and state public sectors participated in the 2011 program. The study program involved government officials, business leaders, community leaders and non-government organisations, providing the participants with background and context for the international dimensions of their responsibilities.

Members of the LAFIA Pacific 2011 tour in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

LAFIA Asia 2012

The LAFIA Asia program spans 2011–12 and 2012–13. The preparation for the LAFIA Asia 2012 program and the Introductory Strategic Dialogue Days were held in 2011–12 and the three-week study tour took take place in July–August 2012.

The study tour visited Singapore, China and Mongolia. A total of 11 senior executives participated in the study tour.

International forums and official visits

The Commission welcomes international visitors to share in our expertise and knowledge of public sector reforms, initiatives and practices and to discuss issues of mutual interest. Delegations are provided with information based on their country’s reform agenda. The delegations predominantly comprise senior public servants, and often include ministers and agency heads.

In 2011–12, 21 delegations visited the Commission from Africa, Belgium, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Public sector reform

The Commission and AusAID are partnering to develop public sector capacity throughout the Asia–Pacific region—particularly in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and, more recently, Africa. Programs are being delivered that support good governance and build public sector capability and institutional capacity to provide the foundations for sustainable reform.

Where relevant, the Commission works with other whole-of-government partners, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and the Commission’s New Zealand Government partners to assist countries in the region to build their public sector capacity.

Commission facilitator Cate Tinney working with Aggie Yeeting from Kiribati (left) and Agnes Gao’tee from Solomon Islands.

The Pacific

The Commission has been working with Pacific island countries since 2004, most recently under the four-year AusAID – APSC Pacific Governance Partnership. In 2011–12, the Commission’s work with its 14 Pacific island partner countries has involved identifying their priority areas for public sector management reform, and working regionally and bilaterally with partner governments to design and implement programs that improve public sector effectiveness.

Key achievements of the Pacific program in 2011–12 included:

  • supporting and coordinating the 2011 Pacific Public Service Commissioners’ Conference and the 2012 Pacific Human Resource Managers Network Conference
  • providing opportunities for professional development to senior and mid-level public service officials through training and work placements in Australia and the Pacific region
  • establishing a new focus on bilateral development activities that provide more targeted programs of support.

A total of 134 Pacific island officials from 14 countries participated in these activities.

Delegates to the 9th Pacific Public Service Commissioners’ Conference in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, 2011.

Papua New Guinea

The Commission provides expertise and delivers a range of activities in Papua New Guinea through records of understanding with AusAID. The Commission supports activities that align with the PNG–Australia Partnership for Development Agreement, which lists public sector reform as a priority.

During 2011–12, 18 participants were awarded a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. These individuals are now qualified to deliver the PNG Public Sector Training Package.

A key highlight of 2011–12 was the completion of a Leadership Capability Framework, which identifies the values and behaviours expected of ethical leaders. The framework contextualises behaviour within Christian, clan, governmental and global values. It is closely aligned with the PNG Code of Conduct.

In March 2012 two workshops were conducted with more than 200 human resource managers, with the aim of raising awareness and knowledge of the PNG Code of Conduct and public service values.

Indonesia

Since 2006, the Commission has assisted Indonesia with civil service reform under the Government Partnerships Fund administered by AusAID.

In 2011–12 on request from the Vice President’s Office, the Commission continued to provide advice on areas of bureaucratic reform where the Commission has expertise. The areas of cooperation included change management, development of a capability review pilot, and provision of strategic dialogue in areas of priority for the Indonesian Government. The Commission also facilitated a workshop in Canberra on reform integration and change management. The workshop aimed to support the whole-of-government reform implementation strategies of the government of Indonesia.

Reform Integration and Change Management Workshop, Canberra, September 2011. Among those participating were Dr Bima Wibisana, Director General, Policy Institute for Procurement of Goods and Services (who led the Indonesian delegation, third from left), Commissioner Mr Stephen Sedgwick AO (seated, centre), Acting Deputy Commissioner Ms Penny Weir (seated, third from right), and workshop facilitator Mr Stephen Bartos (seated, right).

In March 2012, a senior delegation from the Commission visited Jakarta to provide advice to the government of Indonesia on a pilot capability review and a preparatory workshop on capability reviews was held in Canberra. Agreement has been given to undertake a pilot review in the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Africa

The Commission’s Africa public sector program is funded by AusAID, and supports the Australian Government’s commitment to broaden and deepen its engagement with African countries and institutions. The publication Looking West: Australia’s strategic approach to aid in Africa 2011–2015 identified public policy and public sector reform as areas where Australian expertise could be linked with African governments’ priorities. In 2011–12, the Commission’s Africa program focused largely on Ghana; there was also some initial scoping and development work for activities to be delivered in Nigeria in 2012–13.

A two-phase approach was undertaken by the Commission this year to support public service reform in Ghana. The first phase included a study visit to the Commission by five senior public servants from Ghana to discuss with senior APS counterparts their experience in public sector reform relevant to the ‘Better Ghana’ reform agenda. The second phase of activities was delivered in Ghana in June 2012, in partnership with two public service agencies in Ghana, the Public Services Commission and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. A total of 130 senior managers from these agencies received training and skills development in areas targeted to support Ghana’s public sector reforms.

Three important outcomes from the Ghana program of activities were:

  • building the capacity of key senior managers to implement Ghana’s reform agenda
  • establishing partnerships with key agencies to deliver institutional strengthening activities
  • aligning the Commission program with the public sector reform agenda of the government of Ghana and donor partners.

The Chair of the Public Services Commission of Ghana, Mrs Bridget Katsriku, presenting certificates to students at the conclusion of their training and skills development in areas targeted to support Ghana’s public sector reform.

Program 1.1—component 1.1.3: Australian Government employment workplace relations

Objectives

The Commission’s objectives under this program component in 2011–12 were to:

  • provide advice and support in relation to workplace relations within Australian Government employment
  • strengthen and streamline the employment bargaining framework for the APS to support one APS
  • enhance and maintain employment frameworks, including classification and work-level standards, to support cost-effective whole-of-APS delivery to government and stakeholders
  • assist the Remuneration Tribunal and the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal to meet their respective statutory obligations through the provision of high-quality advisory and administrative support.

Achievements

During 2011–12, the Commission:

  • provided high-level support and advice to APS agencies during a major shift in enterprise bargaining in the APS, following the implementation of the revised APS Bargaining Framework in January 2011
  • assessed 27 initial APS agency bargaining positions and 89 enterprise agreements against the APS Bargaining Framework within an intensive time period
  • encouraged agencies to incorporate recommended terms and conditions in their new enterprise agreements, in support of the one APS agenda
  • conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the current bargaining round to inform the policy position for the next bargaining round in 2014
  • conducted the APS remuneration survey, an annual comprehensive analysis of data provided by agencies on salary, allowances, bonuses and superannuation payable to their employees
  • continued to progress a review of APS classification arrangements and work-level standards in line with recommendations of the Blueprint, to facilitate the attraction, retention and mobility of employees in support of a united APS
  • facilitated the government’s response to the SES review, including refinements to the draft SES work-level standards, development of a methodology and workbook for agencies to evaluate SES roles against the standards and the introduction of an online mechanism for agencies to report monthly on their SES cap.

Key performance indicators

Table 15 summarises the performance of program component 1.1.3 against its key performance indicators for 2011–12 and the previous two years.

Table 15: Summary of program component 1.1.3’s performance against key performance indicators, 2009–10 to 2011–12
Key performance indicator 2009–10 Actual 2010–11 Actual 2011–12 Target Actual
Percentage of agency enterprise agreements assessed against the bargaining framework within 10 working days 98.9% 91% 100% 86%
Level of satisfaction of the President of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal with the quality and timeliness of the services provided by the secretariat High High Very good or above High
Level of satisfaction of the President of the Remuneration Tribunal with the quality and timeliness of the services provided by the secretariat High High Very good or above Very high

The 2011–12 Portfolio Budget Statements included four additional performance indicators for program component 1.1.3:

  • advice to the Minister on Australian Government employment workplace relations is timely and of high quality
  • agencies generally consider the guidance and advice provided is accurate and timely
  • agencies consider that the review of the classification structure and APS-wide work-level standards leads to outcomes that support their business and one APS
  • SES numbers reflect government policy objectives.

Deliverables

The Commission’s key deliverables for program component 1.1.3 in 2011–12 were:

  • policy advice to the Minister on workplace arrangements in Australian Government employment
  • advice and support to Australian Government agencies and employees to ensure compliance with Australian Government policy and relevant legislative requirements
  • administer the enterprise bargaining arrangements for Australian Government employment
  • progress a review of APS classification structures and work-level standards to ensure that these arrangements support a united APS and meet the needs of employers and employees
  • implementation of government objectives relating to the size and capability of the SES
  • secretariat support to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal
  • provision of high-quality advisory and administrative support to the Remuneration Tribunal.

APS Bargaining Framework

The introduction in 2011 of the Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework Supporting Guidance and the Recommended Common APS Terms and Conditions of Employment created a substantial shift in enterprise bargaining in 2011–12. The goal of this shift was primarily to support the one APS agenda in encouraging greater commonality of various terms and conditions of employment across the APS.

Following the implementation of the APS Bargaining Framework, the role of approving bargaining positions and enterprise agreements before they were put to a staff vote, rested with the Commission, provided that the bargaining position or enterprise agreement was consistent with the APS Bargaining Framework; otherwise, the Minister, for the Public Service and Integrity.This arrangement differed from that in the previous framework, where this function rested with agency ministers. As a result, there was a discernible increase in work for the Commission during this bargaining round.

The Commission’s role was paramount in the provision of ongoing support and advice during bargaining and the development of agency enterprise agreements. Weekly bargaining status updates were provided to heads of corporate areas during intensive periods of activity. The Commission regularly met with deputy secretaries throughout 2011–12 and hosted formal and informal meetings for human resource and workplace relations practitioners.

Throughout this process, the Commission encouraged agencies to incorporate the recommended terms and conditions and associated model clauses into their agreements.

The occurrence of industrial disputes increased in 2011–12 compared to previous bargaining rounds, although overall the level of action taken was low. The impact of the industrial action and disruption to services to the Australian public were minimal.

The provision of ministerial advice to the Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity also increased: 94 briefs have been submitted since the commencement of the Bargaining Framework in January 2011.

Despite the high degree of bargaining activity during 2011–12, the Commission achieved the objectives in relation to bargaining within stringent timeframes. Since January 2011, the Commission has assessed 105 bargaining positions and 124 enterprise agreements. It is evident that there has been a marked uptake in the adoption of the Recommended Common APS Terms and Conditions of Employment into APS agencies’ enterprise agreements.

As of 30 June 2012:

  • 92 agencies (98.67% of employees) had agreements voted up
  • 11 agencies (1.15% of employees) were currently bargaining
  • 10 agencies (0.18% of employees) were still to commence bargaining.

Bargaining evaluation

In March 2012, the Commission embarked on an evaluation of the 2011–12 bargaining round. The aim of the evaluation was to ascertain the total impact of government policy on APS workplace employment and the extent to which the objectives of government policy were being achieved.

The evaluation encompassed the degree of alignment with remuneration policy, the extent of commonality of terms and conditions, approaches to negotiation and dispute management, and agency feedback on both the APS Bargaining Framework and the role of the Commission in supporting agencies.

The evaluation involved the Commission engaging an external consultant to facilitate 10 agency SES roundtable discussions, eight agency case study interviews and seven focus groups of agency human resource practitioners. In total, 48 agencies participated in the evaluation. The evaluation also incorporated a survey on agency bargaining, in which 73 agencies participated. The results of the evaluation will be used to inform the government’s policy position for the 2014 round of APS bargaining.

In the latter half of 2012 and during 2013, the Commission will meet with agencies to identify key themes and issues likely to influence future APS bargaining with the aim of determining a sound policy position in preparation for the next bargaining round in 2014. During this time the Commission will continue to have discussions with the relevant unions about ways of enhancing bargaining and managing the large number of agreements with a common expiry date.

APS Remuneration Survey

The Commission published the 2011 APS Remuneration Report on 12 June 2012, which provides remuneration information about APS employees including base salary and other remuneration-related benefits and payments in the 2011 calendar year.

The report is an annual snapshot of remuneration across the APS as at 31 December each year and provides information by classification level as well as changes compared to the previous year.

Conducted by Mercer (Australia) Pty Ltd under contract in previous years, the role was undertaken by the Commission this year. The results have been published on our website.

Other policy advice and support

In addition to its responsibilities for bargaining, the Commission provided advice and support to Australian Government employers upon request on a wide range of workplace relations matters, including the application of the Fair Work Act 2009, the Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976, the Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973 and the paid parental leave scheme.

The Commission is continuing to work with and support other APS agencies on various issues that affect employees in the APS:

  • with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to promote payroll giving schemes across the APS
  • with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy on teleworking
  • with the Department of the Treasury on the changes to taxation law on living away from home allowances.

The Commission continued to maintain the Allowance Subscriptions Service, which since its inception in 1999 has been provided on a cost-recovery basis to Commonwealth agencies. The service provides updates to a range of allowances such as travel, motor vehicle and temporary accommodation.

The Commission also has a role to advance the resolution of salary and allowance matters for members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in a manner consistent with the policies of the government relating to workplace relations and remuneration standards. In pursuit of this goal, the Commission works collaboratively with the ADF, including the Defence Force Advocate, to review and develop specific cases referred to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal.

During 2011–12, the Commission was a party to striking new remuneration arrangements for ADF members, that is, the 2011–2014 Workplace Remuneration Arrangement and Senior Officer Remuneration Arrangement. An additional focus for the Commission was the Salary Related Allowance Review, an initiative to simplify and reform the set of allowances that compensates ADF members for disabilities they incur as part of Service life. A new allowance structure was developed by the ADF with the aim of reducing the overall number of allowances and allowance rates and achieving administrative savings. The Salary Related Allowance Review is ongoing and is expected to continue to be a primary focus for the Commission in 2012–13 as individual allowances are reviewed and referred to the tribunal for adjudication.

Workforce classification and work-level standards

APS-wide reviews

The Blueprint proposed clarification and greater alignment of employment conditions to strengthen the Australian Government Bargaining Framework (Reform 6), ensuring arrangements support a united APS and do not operate as an impediment to mobility.

APS classification review

In implementing recommendation 6.1, the Commission is undertaking a review to examine the extent to which existing APS classification arrangements and work-level standards continue to meet the needs of APS agencies and employees. The APS Classification Review is funded from agency contributions as part of a memorandum of understanding established in August 2011.

The review, which considers the role of classification in the attraction, retention and mobility of employees in support of a united APS, is progressing under the guidance of a steering committee at deputy secretary level to ensure the review is informed by the views of senior leaders across the Service. A working group comprising human resource practitioners from 21 agencies has supported the analysis and actively contributed to the review’s outcomes.

The outcomes of the review will be reported early in 2012–13.

Senior Executive Service review

Recommendation 6.2 of the Blueprint required the Commission to complete a review of the size, capability and work-level standards for each level of the SES before any new net growth in the SES occurs. The Review of the Senior Executive Service report was released by government in September 2011.

While there are clear forces driving much of the growth in SES numbers, such as the growth in the number and size of programs administered by the APS, the report found that there was a need to put in place arrangements which ensure that number and composition of SES roles is commensurate with the needs of the government and is responsive to changing circumstances. The APS can get better value from all of the SES by better designing its roles and managing SES classifications more rigorously to ensure that the ‘size’ of the roles matches their classification. A transparent system for classifying SES roles is vital for the cohesion of the APS.

During 2011–12, following Commission consultation with many agencies and the Secretaries Board, the government agreed to implement the majority of the recommendations of the SES review by deciding that classification management arrangements for the SES be strengthened and central oversight of SES numbers be maintained. In particular, the Commission and agencies are to implement arrangements that include continuation of the SES cap for up to five years, with a review after three years, and finalisation of the draft SES work-level standards to be used by agencies to assess all SES roles within the next three years to ensure they are appropriately classified.

The Commission has developed a simple methodology for evaluating SES roles, based on the SES work-level standards, and a workbook to guide agencies in its use. The Commission provided training for agencies in the use of this methodology in May and June 2012.

Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal

The Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal was established in 1984 to determine the pay and allowances of members of the Australian Defence Force, considering the special nature of Defence Force service. The tribunal’s functions, as set out in section 58H of the Defence Act 1903, are to:

  • inquire into and determine the salaries and relevant allowances to be paid to members of the ADF
  • inquire into and make determinations on prescribed matters that have been referred to the tribunal.

A report on the performance of these functions is contained in Part 3 of this report.

The Commission provides secretariat services to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal. In 2011–12, the secretariat provided support in proceedings before the tribunal related to the remuneration and entitlements of members of the ADF.

Remuneration Tribunal

The secretariat to the Remuneration Tribunal supports the tribunal, an independent statutory body established under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973, to inquire into and determine, or provide advice on, remuneration and related matters for a range of Commonwealth offices. The secretariat supports the tribunal’s work by researching, analysing and providing advice and briefings on matters to be considered by the tribunal and by providing associated administrative support. The secretariat is provided by the Commission.

The tribunal is required by the Remuneration Tribunal Act to report annually to the Minister. Details of the work of the tribunal are provided in that report.

Program 1.2: Parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements

On 14 September 2010, administration of the parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements program was transferred from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to the Commission.

Objective

The objective of the program is to facilitate the payment of parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration, allowances and entitlements.

Key performance indicator

Table 16 summarises program 1.2’s performance against its key performance indicator for 2011–12.

Table 16: Summary of program 1.2’s performance against key performance indicator, 2011–12
Key performance indicator 2011–12
Target Actual
Percentage of all variations to remuneration and entitlements are processed in a timely manner with an accuracy of at least 99% 99% Achieved

Program deliverables

The Commission’s key deliverable for program 1.2 in 2011–12 was the payment of parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration, allowances and entitlements.

The Department of the Senate, the Department of the House of Representatives and the Attorney-General’s Department make all payments for this program.

Payments made are reported in the schedule of administered items in the Commission’s financial statements in Part 6.

1 Adapted for the APS context from Development Dimensions International 2008, Nine Best Practices for Talent Management and Corporate Leadership Council 2007, Improving Talent Management Outcomes.