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Performance review, continued

Program 1.2: Investing in APS development and capability


APS workforce capability is critical to improving APS performance in the future. Its leaders shape the culture and values of the APS. 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 in 2010–11 were to deliver:

  • centralised assessment and procurement of core learning and development programs
  • support, guidance and encouragement to APS agencies to invest as required in the capability development of their people, to raise overall APS capability
  • reinvigorated strategic leadership capability by investing in the talent management of top performers in the APS
  • strategic partnerships to support the competitive delivery of public service professional development opportunities.


During 2010–11, the Commission:

  • established the Centre for Leadership and Learning, to ensure that the APS has a contemporary, systematic approach to learning and development, leadership development and talent management, built around APS needs
  • reinvigorated the Leader to leader series, with a focus on inviting secretaries of departments to deliver presentations on leadership
  • successfully held a series of APS200 events, including an address by Prime Minister the Hon Julia Gillard
  • held the Executive Level Leadership Network annual forum, which drew 209 attendees
  • increased the number of SES event participants through greater flexibility in event design and delivery
  • assisted 117 graduates to successfully complete the Graduate Development Program and receive a Diploma of Government qualification awarded by the Commission
  • hosted three highly successful whole-of-government graduate events, A Taste of Government, The Great APS Graduate Debate and Candid Reflections from Inspiring APS Leaders.
  • hosted a successful Caretaker Convention event during the caretaker period with 198 attendees.

Key performance indicators

Table 7 summarises program 1.2 performance against its key performance indicators for 2009–10 and 2010–11.

Table 7: Summary of program 1.2 performance against key performance indicators, 2009–10 and 2010–11
na = not available. This was a new measure in 2009–10.
Note: These were new performance indicators in 2009–10, so only one year of trend information is available.
  2009–10 2010–11
Key performance indicator Actual
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 89 85 88
Responding surveyed participants consider that the Commission program learning objectives were met effectively 87 85 89
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 90 85 84
Responding surveyed participants agreed that attending Commission leadership development activities increased their leadership skill, capability and knowledge na 85 89

The 2010–11 Portfolio Budget Statements included three new performance indicators for program 1.2:

  • the learning and development programs lead to increased choice, opportunity and better work performance (page 51)
  • 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 the lead agency.

The Commission provides quarterly reports to the Secretaries Board detailing progress on the implementation of the recommendations.

Program deliverables

The Commission’s key deliverables for program 1.2 in 2010–11 were:

  • the establishment and operation of a Centre for Leadership and Learning (pages 45–7)
  • the procurement of programs relating to core activities that shape the APS (page 47)
  • quality assessments of professional development programs and centrally negotiated prices disseminated to agencies (page 47)
  • an annual learning and development strategy based on current and emerging priorities (to be reflected in the human capital priority plan) approved by the Centre for Leadership and Learning Advisory Board (page 46)
  • stronger relationships with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and the National Security College and other providers to ensure availability of high-quality professional development (pages 57–8)
  • support for agencies, APS leaders, and the Secretaries Board in particular, in identifying and nurturing top talent across the APS and providing opportunities to develop high-performing individuals, including graduates (page 45–50)
  • the development of a user pays model to fund the delivery of mandatory core learning and development and 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. This may include multiyear arrangements with providers (page 47)
  • leadership, learning and development programs that build knowledge, capabilities, skills and behaviours, consistent with the introduction of the new arrangements (pages 47–55)
  • support for leadership excellence through international programs and work with the states and territories on public sector educational training needs (pages 57–9)
  • support for the advisory board of the Commission’s Centre for Leadership and Learning (page 46).

Table 8 summarises program 1.2 performance against its deliverables for 2010–11 and the previous two years.

Table 8: Summary of program 1.2 performance against deliverables, 2008–09 to 2010–11
nm = new measure.
* This total only includes events; it excludes SES programs, which were included in the previous years’ totals.
† This total is gazetted new SES who have attended the SES orientation program.
‡ The project focus changed due to funding uncertainty. Increased attention was applied to comprehensive research, consultation and design of business processes for the talent management system, which were endorsed by the Centre for Leadership and Learning Advisory Board in June 2011. The talent management program is expected to commence during the first half of 2011–12.
  2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Deliverables Actual Actual Target Actual
Seminars and forums delivered 127 131 30 33*
Leadership programs delivered (page 47–51) 51 55 78 54
Agencies using the capability development panel (formerly known as the leadership learning and development panel) to deliver training (page 55) 60 60 58 58
APS 1–6 and Executive Level programs delivered (pages 53–5) 801 603 270 484
Agencies engaged through at least one scheduled event, activity or network focused on leadership 73% 78% 75% 85%
New SES attending orientation program (page 49)† 38% 42% 80% 26%
SES and Executive level programs were rated 5 or 6 on a 6-point scale for relevance, usefulness and administration and coordination 88% 88% 85% 84%
Panel services were rated 5 or 6 on a 6-point scale for how well the program was delivered and coordinated 97% 94% 85% 80%
Number of APS agencies using accreditation services (page 54) nm nm 30 38
Achieve 50 participants or as agreed by the advisory board of the target group identified in the learning and development strategy in High Potential Unit programs for SES‡ nm nm 50 Not achieved

Centre for Leadership and Learning

The Centre for Leadership and Learning was established in July 2010 in response to recommendations in the Blueprint for the Commission, in close collaboration with APS agencies, to strategically and systematically build APS leadership and core capabilities.

The Centre for Leadership and Learning is a dedicated resource that brings a disciplined focus to ensuring that APS leadership and core skills are developed in a contemporary and cost-effective manner. The Centre for Leadership and Learning’s role is to prepare, execute and evaluate an annual leadership, learning and development strategy for the APS and to provide fresh approaches to leadership and core skill development and talent management. It also assists agencies by coordinating thought leadership activities that engage and challenge APS thinking on leadership, learning and development issues and trends.

The main focus for the Centre for Leadership and Learning in 2010–11 was on preparing an APS leadership development strategy and designing leadership development initiatives and a talent management system to support senior leaders at critical points in their careers.

Advisory board

An advisory board, chaired by the Commissioner and comprising three departmental secretaries (Dr Ian Watt AO, Ms Lisa Paul PSM AO and Mr Finn Pratt PSM), two agency heads (Mr Michael D’Ascenzo AO and Ms Robyn Kruk AM) and three external experts (Ms Ann Sherry AO, Mr Chris Blake and Dr Jeff Harmer AO), ensures that the Centre for Leadership and Learning’s work is focused on delivering value for the APS and for agencies. The Centre for Leadership and Learning provides secretariat services to the board.

During 2010–11, the board convened three times and endorsed the 2011–12 APS Leadership Development Strategy and the design of leadership development and talent management initiatives.

APS leadership development strategy

The 2011–12 APS Leadership Development Strategy is a service-wide strategic approach for developing leaders with tomorrow’s capability profile based on analysis of future requirements. It was developed by the Centre for Leadership and Learning in collaboration with APS agencies.

Throughout 2010–11, the Centre for Leadership and Learning conducted extensive consultation and research to ensure that the strategy represented contemporary practice and met the needs of the wider APS. This approach involved:

  • more than 50 meetings with representatives from APS agencies including 35 SES employees and seven departmental secretaries
  • 10 workshops involving almost 100 human resource leaders and practitioners from across
    the APS
  • regular presentations at three APS forums (the HR Directors Forum, the Heads of Corporate Forum and the Deputy Secretaries Reference Group).

The strategy, endorsed by both the advisory board and the Secretaries Board, establishes the framework and priorities for the design of key leadership development options for APS leaders, including high-potential employees.

Talent management system

With a tightening labour market and increased competition for talent, particularly at senior levels, and with the requirement for APS leaders to be highly skilled to perform in a changing public service environment, the APS requires a dedicated focus on developing its high-potential future leaders.

The talent management system has been designed to ensure that the APS has a sustainable pool of talented people who are ready to fill key roles. It will identify people with the capacity to make the most of intensive development and with potential to be future leaders of the APS.

The Secretaries Board agreed that the initial focus for APS-wide talent management should be on developing high-potential SES Band 2 employees for Band 3 positions, as these roles are critical to APS sustainability.

The Centre for Leadership and Learning is designing a rigorous and transparent pilot SES Band 2 talent development program. Secretaries and chief executives will be responsible for nominating high-potential Band 2 leaders to participate in the program.

The program will include a workshop that will produce tailored personal development plans to be agreed between the individuals, their agency heads and the Centre for Leadership and Learning. Participants will then engage in intensive development activities, which may include 360-degree feedback, action learning projects and coaching that focuses on whole-of-APS leadership capability.

The pilot program will commence with nominations and development planning in the first half of 2011–12.

Future directions

With a five-year funding model now agreed by the Secretaries Board and the heads of significant agencies, the focus of the Centre for Leadership and Learning for 2011–12 will move from ‘start up’ mode to ‘business as usual’. This will involve running an annual strategy process that will be expanded to include core skills development initiatives.

During 2011–12, the Centre for Leadership and Learning will:

  • implement the 2011–12 APS Leadership Development Strategy
  • design and implement contemporary leadership development programs
  • manage high-potential programs for senior leaders
  • design quality assurance mechanisms for use in future years
  • undertake central procurement of programs where approved by the Secretaries Board
  • evaluate leadership, learning and development programs to ensure that they are effective and provide value for money
  • provide thought leadership to agencies through consolidation of research and facilitation of learning and development professional forums
  • provide support and advice to agencies on all aspects of leadership, learning and development and talent management.

The activities of the Centre will be subject to a formal evaluation after three years.

Leadership programs and services

Throughout 2010–11 the Commission continued to provide programs and services intended to ensure that the SES and its feeder groups remain well placed to meet current and future requirements.

In 2010–11, a particular emphasis was given to revitalising the SES leadership programs and forums, which resulted in a re-framed Leader to leader program format, the introduction of APS200 events, and a more flexible approach to SES event subscriptions.

The Commission’s Centre for Leadership and Learning is in the process of designing new and refreshed leadership development initiatives targeted at critical points in APS leaders’ careers. These initiatives will augment the Commission’s current suite of leadership, learning and development programs.

Senior Executive Service programs and forums

The Commission delivers a number of residential and non-residential leadership programs for SES Band 1 to 3 employees that address a range of development needs. The programs held in 2010–11 are summarised in Table 9.

Table 9: Senior Executive Service programs and forums, 2010–11
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 14
Leading across boundaries This program strengthens the development of whole-of-government leadership capabilities for SES Band 2s 2 29
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 57
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 4 64
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 9 593
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 5 402
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 2 149

Participants are surveyed as part of the Commission’s continuous improvement approach to its leadership programs. In 2010–11, 94% (90% in 2009–10) of those responding agreed that attending Commission programs and events assisted in building their awareness of issues, developments and priorities to enable them to work more effectively.

SES orientation

In 2010–11, the Commission offered two SES orientation programs–one focused on SES promoted within the APS and the other tailored specifically for lateral recruits to the SES. Both programs provide senior executives with information and networking opportunities to help them operate effectively in the APS environment. Topics covered include accountability, governance and the relationship between ministers and the APS.

During 2010–11, the Commission delivered 9 (11 in 2009–10) SES orientations to 182 (167 in 2009–10) senior executives. One SES orientation for lateral recruits was delivered to 16 senior executives.

The percentage of new SES attending these programs is less than optimal (26%). This is in part because new SES often receive very comprehensive inductions at the agency level and a proportion having previous experience in the SES and in the APS. The Commission is continuing to engage with agency heads to reinforce the importance of the SES orientation program in supporting the development of a strong and unified leadership group.

Leader to leader series

During 2010–11, the Leader to leader series was reframed to focus on the secretaries of APS departments providing their views on leadership to senior executives in the public sector. Five Leader to leader events attracted 402 people during the year. Speakers and topics were:

  • Lisa Paul, Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, ‘Leadership and policy reform in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’
  • Jeff Harmer, Secretary of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, ‘The challenges of successful leadership today’
  • Jane Halton, Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, ‘Leadership challenges for the APS–Now and into the future’
  • Roger Wilkins, Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, ‘Policy leadership’
  • Glenys Beauchamp, Secretary of the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, ‘Why the public sector must reform’.

Expertise development programs

The Commission offers programs for the SES and 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 10.

Table 10: Expertise development programs, 2010–11
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 91
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 6 102
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 3 22
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 36
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 10 57
Winning that SES job Aimed at EL 2 staff applying for SES positions, this course guides participants through the process of the applying and interviewing for and winning SES positions 12 72

Executive Level Leadership Network

The Executive Level Leadership Network offers a suite of events for Executive Level staff, including an annual forum, breakfast seminars and occasional special events. The network provides opportunities for information sharing and aims to develop strong communities of interest across government. The network is governed by a steering committee of representatives from a range of departments and agencies, which the Commission coordinates and chairs.

Four breakfast events were held in 2010–11 with a total of 298 people in attendance. Speakers and topics were:

  • John McMillan, Australian Information Commissioner, ‘Open government–The new agenda’
  • Trevor Waring, Chancellor, University of Newcastle, ‘Stressors from a work/life balance’
  • Bernard Wright, Clerk of the House of Representatives, ‘How is minority government working at the national level?’
  • Wendy Southern, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, ‘Migration and nation building’.

A special evening event with Robin Ryde from Robin Ryde Consulting on the topic of ‘Leader as network’ was held in November 2010 and attracted an audience of 80 people.

The network’s annual forum was held in June 2011 and attracted 209 people. The topic for the 2011 forum was ‘The obstacles of leadership–Contemporary government issues and challenges’.

Career Development Assessment Centre

The Career Development Assessment Centre (CDAC) assesses the leadership capability and development priorities of high-performing and high-potential Executive Level 2 leaders from across the APS. The program provides an opportunity for participants to evaluate and identify core leadership capabilities through a series of challenging workplace scenarios while being observed by SES Band 2 and 3 staff. The CDAC program is one of the Commission’s key strategies for strengthening the SES feeder group.

In 2010–11, 12 CDAC sessions were delivered to 140 participants from 48 agencies across the APS.

Learning and development programs and services

During 2010–11, 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 technical skill and leadership programs, offered through public calendars and tailored in-house delivery.

The Commission conducted extensive reviews and evaluations of its learning and development programs and services throughout the year. The process included gathering evaluation data from clients and consultants, analysing program and event data and working in consultation with APS agencies to better meet their organisational challenges.

This ongoing evaluation strategy contributed to the Commission’s role in building knowledge, capabilities, skills and behaviours.

Induction and graduate programs

APS induction

The APS induction program equips employees with a broad understanding of the APS’s relationship with 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. Employees can access the APS induction e-learning modules directly from the Commission’s website or download them to an intranet site or learning management system. The Commission also offers APS induction as a facilitated half-day training program.

The APS induction material is currently being updated to ensure it continues to provide new members of the APS with correct and current information. The program update is expected to be completed in August 2011.

Graduate development

The Commission delivered three whole-of-government networking events for graduates in 2010–11, A Taste of Government, The Great APS Graduate Debate and Candid Reflections from Inspiring APS Leaders. These events provide graduates with information on current and emerging critical challenges for the APS and offer cross-agency networking opportunities.

More than 700 graduates from 34 agencies attended A Taste of Government at the Great Hall in Parliament House. The Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity, the Hon Gary Gray AO MP; the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Terry Moran AO; and the Public Service Commissioner spoke on current challenges facing the APS and took questions from the audience.

The Hon Gary Gray AO MP speaking at A Taste of Government at Parliament House on 21 March 2011, with the Commissioner, Stephen Sedgwick; Terry Moran AO; and Clare Page (seated, left to right).

The 2010 Graduate Development Program concluded in December with 117 graduates successfully completing the program. Successful graduates were presented with their Diploma of Government qualification at a formal graduation ceremony at Old Parliament House. The Commissioner presented the Whole-of-Government Graduate Development Program Major Project Outstanding Achievement Award for the best project report to Zachary Damon, Sarah McFarlane and Lauren White from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service for their work on reviewing the Enforcement and Investigations ‘Exercise’ reporting structure.

The 2011 Graduate Development Program commenced in February with graduates from 11 agencies participating across four groups. As part of the revised program, graduates will have 21 face-to-face training days in areas such as the APS Values and Code of Conduct, financial management, project management, strategic thinking, policy development and self-awareness. They will also complete a major project, participate in ongoing assessment tasks and benefit from opportunities to network across agencies.

Programs for non-SES employees

APS 1–6 programs

The Commission continues to support capability building through a comprehensive and coordinated suite of leadership, learning and development programs and events 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.

In 2010–11, the five most popular public calendar programs were:

  • Essential writing for APS 5–6 levels
  • Strategic thinking
  • Minute taking skills
  • Essential writing for APS 1–4 levels
  • APS job applications and interview skills: Applying for jobs up to the APS 6 level.

The Commission delivered 153 programs in Canberra, which attracted 2,597 participants.

Executive Level programs

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, communication, people management, self-development, financial management, and governance and regulation.

In 2010–11, the Commission delivered 123 Executive Level programs in Canberra, which attracted 2,022 participants.

The five most popular programs were:

  • Shaping strategic thought
  • EL 1 transition
  • Influencing skills for Executives
  • Essential writing for Executives
  • Proofreading and editing.

The Commission also provides a number of residential and non-residential programs for Executive Level employees. Table 11 summarises the programs offered in 2010–11.

Table 11: Executive Level residential and non-residential programs, 2010–11
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 7 152
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 5 118
The professional public service: An EL 1 master class This program has been designed for EL 1s who wish to finetune and advance their strategic thinking and policy advising skills in the context of a contemporary APS 5 112
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)
  • Diploma of Government (Contract Management).

At 30 June 2011, 248 APS employees were undertaking qualifications through the Commission, and 222 employees completed qualifications in 2010–11.

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 Fair Work Ombudsman to provide a Certificate IV in Government (Workplace Relations) qualification pathway to its workplace relations advisors.

In-house program delivery

In addition to public calendar programs, the Commission offers in-house delivery of core 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 191 core programs around Australia in 2010–11 (97 in the ACT and 94 in regional areas). The two most popular programs in 2010–11 related to APS job applications and interview skills and the APS Values and Code of Conduct.

Table 12 provides a summary of programs for non-SES employees from 2008–09 to 2010–11.

Table 12: Programs for non-SES employees, 2008–09 to 2010–11
* Focus on people program is no longer provided.
Program 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
ACT APS 1–6 162 168 153
Focus on people* 10 1 0
ACT Executive Level 102 93 123
Executive Level 1 residential 1 4 4
Executive Level 1 non-residential 2 4 6
Executive Level 2 residential 4 4 4
Executive Level 2 non-residential 3 2 3
ACT in-house deliveries 126 99 97
Regional programs calendar and in-house deliveries 382 243 94

Panel services

The Commission’s capability development panel includes more than 220 leading corporate management consultancy firms with public and private sector expertise. The Commission, through the panel, customises programs and services to meet the specific needs of agencies. These services play a key role in developing the capability of APS employees.

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 consultancy 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. This panel is made up of 22 specialist e-learning firms. On 1 June 2011, a new executive search and recruitment panel commenced consisting of 34 providers. The panel was established to assist agencies with specialist executive search and recruitment needs.

Table 13 provides a summary of programs presented from 2008–09 to 2010–11.

Table 13: Panel service programs presented, 2008–09 to 2010–11
Program 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
Writing skills 181 147 115
Leadership/management skills 162 150 162
Procurement and contract management 72 54 58
Project management 63 78 55
Coaching services 96 64 101
Policy 51 20 18
E-learning services 25 25 44
Other consultancy services 554 560 570
Total 1,204 1,098 1,123

Supporting forums and networks

Heads of Corporate Forum

Membership in the forum is open to SES-level heads of corporate (or their equivalent) in APS departments and agencies. The forum facilitates frank exchange between APS heads of corporate at the SES level, by encouraging the open flow of ideas, identifying significant strategic issues and providing opportunities for members to further develop peer relationships. The forum met four times in 2010–11.

HR Directors Forum

The HR Directors Forum is open to human resource directors and managers in APS departments and agencies. The forum provides an opportunity for human resource professionals to meet colleagues from other departments and discuss whole-of-government issues at the executive level. The forum met four times during the year.

Regional forums and events

Australian Government Leadership Network

During the year, the Commission introduced a new model to support the Australian Government Leadership Network (AGLN), which operates in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. The new approach aims to build the effectiveness of the networks and streamline the organisation of events. As part of the new model, the Commission created a centralised AGLN role based in the Melbourne office. The primary focus of the role is to coordinate and support key AGLN events such as annual conferences in each region. The Commission also continues to provide support to each AGLN through its regional offices.

The purpose of the networks is to support senior leaders of the APS by providing a forum for:

  • leadership development
  • exchange of innovative thinking, ideas, knowledge and experiences
  • peer support and collegiality
  • facilitation of whole-of-government approaches to public sector activities
  • reducing the impact of geographic isolation from national offices.

Events include forums and annual conferences.

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 Queensland, three network meetings were held. Speakers and network members discussed a diverse range of topics, including managing organisational change, employee grievances, disciplinary processes, absence management and ethics.

New South Wales established a network, supported by a steering committee. The purpose of the network is to facilitate discussion and create opportunities to share knowledge of contemporary best practice. Two events were held with presentations focusing on activities relating to the APS reform agenda.

South Australia held two network meetings, with presentations and workshops on reform projects such as streamlining recruitment and the review of the APS Values. Guest presenters from APS agencies, the private sector and the Commission spoke on topics of general interest including health, wellbeing, and occupational health and safety.

In Western Australia, two events were held. Presentations and workshops covered career development and activities relating to the APS reform agenda, including streamlining recruitment, the review of the APS Values, and the Centre for Leadership and Learning.

In Victoria, the network brings together representatives of agencies in a forum to consider better practice approaches to people management, and provides the opportunity to share information on a range of human resources–related matters. In 2010–11 presentations were delivered on the following topics: preventing and managing sexual harassment complaints–learnings from recent legal proceedings; the new APS Bargaining Framework; and the work of the APS Benevolent Society.

In Tasmania, the network held regular meetings and hosted presentations about the new APS Bargaining Framework and helped facilitate finance training on the Australian Government’s financial management framework and training on a variety of occupational health and safety topics.

National programs and relationships with higher education institutions

Sir Roland Wilson Foundation

The Commission is working in partnership with the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation (Australian National University) to introduce a scholarship program for high-performing Executive Level employees. The Sir Roland Wilson scholarships are an important element in realising the Blueprint’s intent to develop future APS leaders and foster stronger relationships between the APS and the academic sector.

National Security College and Australian National Institute of Public Policy

The Commission provided input and support to the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in establishing the National Security College and the Australian National Institute of Public Policy. Further work will be undertaken to build professional development capability during the implementation phase of the APS leadership development strategy from July 2011.

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.

The Australian Government is a foundation member of ANZSOG. Dr Ian Watt, then Secretary of the Department of Defence, became the government’s representative on the ANZSOG Board in July 2008. Dr Watt resigned from the ANZSOG Board in August 2011 and the Australian Government is currently considering his replacement. Dr Ken Henry, Secretary to the Treasury, was chair of the ANZSOG Research Committee until his retirement. Dr Martin Parkinson, current Secretary to the Treasury, has taken over the chair of this committee.

Since 2003, the Commission, in consultation with other agencies, has supported ANZSOG to ensure it meets APS needs by providing high-quality, high-profile programs that represent value for money. Each year, the Australian Government selects leaders and potential leaders to participate in ANZSOG’s annual flagship teaching programs:

  • the Executive Fellows Program (EFP), a three-week residential for SES Band 2 and 3 employees, which in 2010 attracted 79 participants in total, 74 participants from Australia and New Zealand, one from Canada, two from Hong Kong and two from India, of whom 14 (18%) were from the APS
  • the Executive Masters of Public Administration (EMPA), a two-year part-time program for high-performing Executive Level 2 staff and equivalents, which in 2011 attracted 125 students, of whom 30 (24%) were APS employees
  • the 2010 Towards Strategic Leadership Program, involving two one-week residential modules separated by a few months, which was delivered in November 2010 and February 2011. This program is aimed at the ‘middle ground’ between the EMPA and the EFP and is designed for senior staff moving from tactical to strategic leadership roles. The two modules deal with managing complexity and interdependence and managing change. The program attracted 40 participants, of whom 10 (25%) were APS employees.

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 distinctive curriculum has been developed by academic and public sector experts and provides a dynamic 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. The program culminates in a tertiary qualification at the graduate certificate level for managers in each level of government. 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 ACT.

In the ACT, 187 participants from the Commonwealth and ACT governments continued their participation in the two-year program, and a further 81 participants enrolled and commenced during 2010–11.

The ACT jurisdiction hosted the program’s national conference in March 2011.

The Commission also maintained its contractual arrangement with Victoria University, which delivers the program in Victoria with support from the Victorian State Services Authority.

International assistance and engagement

Leading Australia’s future in Asia

Political, economic and social changes occurring in the Asia–Pacific region are profoundly affecting Australia’s strategic and economic directions. The Leading Australia’s Future in the Asia–Pacific (LAFIA) program enables senior executives to meet these challenges more confidently by giving them context and background for the international dimension of their responsibilities.

Through the program, participants:

  • gain deep insights into the motivation of the people of the region
  • broaden their understanding of Asian institutions, culture and history
  • cultivate an awareness of demographic profiles, and social and economic context
  • refine their understanding of political and strategic issues
  • conduct high-level dialogue with political powerbrokers, business entities and government.

In 2010–11 the Commission, in conjunction with the Crawford School of Economics and Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, delivered three LAFIA programs–one to the Pacific and two to Asia. In September 2010, 13 leaders embarked on a two-week study tour of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga. In July 2010, 13 senior leaders undertook a three-week study tour of Japan and Malaysia, and in June 2011 nine senior executives experienced the remarkable recent growth of Indonesia and India.

LAFIA 2010 participants at a briefing in Malaysia on the Sustainable Penang Initiative and the
Penang Blueprint 2011–2015: Environmental Progress and Challenges,
at the Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute.

Feedback from participants in LAFIA 2010 highlighted the success of the program:

‘It has been a life-changing and rewarding experience unlike any other program.’

‘An excellent study tour, which gave me unique insights from a range of high-level government officials. I can’t imagine being privileged to take part in this level of international dialogue anywhere else but through LAFIA.’

International forums and official visits

On 10 March 2011, Indonesian Vice President Boediono and Minister Mangindaan (Ministry for Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (MenPAN)) met Minister Gray and the Commissioner in Perth. On 11 March 2011, the Commissioner hosted a meeting with the deputies of the Vice President and MenPAN at the Commission’s office in Canberra. Both meetings were part of an official visit to Australia by the Vice President and a delegation of four ministers. The focus for the visit was bureaucratic reform, including a request from the Vice President’s office for Australian assistance to advance Indonesia’s reform agenda.

Visits by overseas delegations

The Commission welcomes international visitors to share in our expertise and knowledge of public sector initiatives, practices and issues of mutual interest. The delegations are mainly senior public servants and often include ministers and agency heads.

In 2010–11, 23 delegations visited the Commission to discuss issues relating to public sector reform and the Commission’s roles and responsibilities. The visitors were from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, and Vietnam.

Public sector reform

The Australian Government recognises that good public sector governance is critical in enabling a developing country to address its development challenges and reduce poverty. Improving governance supports citizens and communities in sharing the benefits of economic growth, stability and development and is essential for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

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.

The Commission actively engages in the OECD Public Governance Committee and the Board of the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management.

The Pacific

The Commission conducted four major multilateral activities in Australia and the Pacific during the year. Each activity was designed to assist Pacific island officials at different levels to increase their workplace capabilities, especially in the area of human resource management.

Key achievements in 2010–11 included:

  • supporting the host country of the 2010 Pacific Public Service Commissioners Conference and providing its regional secretariat with guidance and assistance
  • facilitating the Pacific Human Resource Managers’ Network and coordinating its fifth annual conference, which encouraged regional discussions on addressing common human resource management challenges
  • providing professional development to senior and mid-level managers through Australian and regional work attachments and work placements.

Delegates at the 2010 Pacific Public Service Commissioners Conference.

A total of 90 Pacific island officials from 14 countries participated in the activities.

In addition, the Commission progressed a number of new activities and supported individual country requests, including commencing negotiations with the Public Service Commission of Samoa to conduct human resource development programs in-country, tailored for Samoan public sector human resource managers.

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.

In 2010–11, 28 participants were awarded with a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. These individuals are now qualified to deliver the PNG Public Sector Training Package. A second cohort of 20 commenced in March 2011.

Other achievements during the year included designing and delivering a leadership workshop for agency heads and ministers. The workshop facilitated dialogue on the challenges of integrating traditional customs, culture and values, the different perspectives of leadership that exist across different sections of the community, and the leadership required for Papua New Guinea to achieve the outcomes articulated in its national strategic plan, Papua New Guinea Vision 2050.

The workshop culminated in a series of resolutions articulated in a document that was signed by all participating agency heads and presented to the Acting Prime Minister, Sam Abal. The resolutions, known as the Kalibobo Resolutions, agree to promote and foster an executive leadership management development framework for Papua New Guinean public service executives. Workshop participants also developed core criteria for a values-based leadership capability framework that will inform the focus and development of an executive leadership and management development program.

Acting Prime Minister The Hon. Sam Abal MP, Attorney General Hon. Chief Sir Arnold Amet,
Hon. Moses Maladina, Minister for Public Service (seated, left to right)
and Secretary Kali (standing) at the signing of the Kalibobo Resolutions.


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

Activities completed during 2010–11 included:

  • provision of training to support trialling and implementation of competency standards, in collaboration with the Indonesian Professional Certification Authority, in the National Civil Service Agency (BKN), National Institute of Public Administration (LAN) and regional offices
  • assistance to BKN with its internal reforms, particularly in building its capacity to conduct reviews of agency human resource management policies and practices
  • a visit by Canberra-based Commission experts to Jakarta to scope further support for LAN’s leadership and assessment centre. Following this visit, the Commission provided resources to help LAN develop the capability of its assessment centre in Bandung and redesign its senior leadership development program.

The Commission began the second phase of its engagement in Indonesia on 1 January 2011. During the initial six months, the Commission undertook a scoping assessment to respond to impending developments in Indonesian bureaucratic reform and to determine the course of its program until December 2014.

In February 2011, Commission staff visited Jakarta to consult with the Indonesian Government and AusAID officials on the Indonesian bureaucratic reform agenda. The Commission accepted the invitation of the office of the Vice President to engage with the Bureaucratic Reform Steering Committee as a strategic dialogue partner for a period of 18 months.

On 6 June 2011, the Commission convened its first bilateral dialogue on bureaucratic reform. The focus was whole-of-government reform and change management. This event, hosted by the Commissioner in Canberra, was attended by a senior Indonesian delegation headed by the Deputy of the Ministry for Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform and representatives from the Commission, AusAID, the Indonesian Embassy and the University of Canberra.


The Commission has finalised an agreement with AusAID for the provision of public sector reform assistance to a select number of African countries. Research and consultations are underway and scoping began in July 2011.

Program 1.3: Australian Government employment workplace relations


The objectives of the program are to:

  • provide advice and support in relation to workplace relations within Australian Government employment
  • strengthen and streamline the employment bargaining arrangements to support one APS
  • improve management of classification of jobs in the APS.


During 2010–11, the Commission:

  • provided advice to the government about the formulation of strengthened and streamlined employment bargaining arrangements to better support one APS through a revised APS Bargaining Framework. The new framework took effect on 31 January 2011
  • introduced a set of non-binding recommendations for common APS terms and conditions, developed in consultation with APS agencies. Agencies are now working to incorporate these terms and conditions into new enterprise agreements through good-faith bargaining
  • provided advice and support through regular forums and briefings to Australian Government agencies to ensure that they are aware of new government policy
  • provided ongoing advice and support to Australian Government employers on employee entitlements, 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 introduction of the paid parental leave scheme
  • provided advice and support in proceedings before the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal related to the remuneration and entitlements of members of the Australian Defence Force.

Key performance indicators

Table 14 summarises program 1.3 performance against its key performance indicator for 2009–10 and 2010–11.

Table 14: Summary of program 1.3 performance against key performance indicator, 2009–10 and 2010–11
  2009–10 2010–11
Key performance indicator Actual Target Actual
Agency enterprise agreements are assessed against the bargaining framework within 10 working days 98.9% 100% 91%

The 2010–11 Portfolio Budget Statements included four new performance indicators for program 1.3:

  • advice to the Minister on Australian Government employment workplace relations is timely and of high quality (page 66)
  • agencies generally consider the guidance and advice provided is accurate and timely
  • level of satisfaction of the President of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal with the quality and timeliness of the services provided by the secretariat (page 68)
  • ensuring no net growth in SES numbers (unless agreed by government) prior to the completion of the SES review (page 66).

Program deliverables

The Commission’s key deliverables for program 1.3 in 2010–11 were:

  • policy advice to the Minister on workplace arrangements in Australian Government employment (page 66)
  • advice and support to Australian Government employers to ensure compliance with Australian Government policy and relevant legislative requirements (pages 65–6)
  • a new enterprise bargaining arrangement which embeds greater consistency in wages, terms and conditions (pages 65–6)
  • 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 (pages 66–7)
  • a review of the size, capability and work-level standard of the SES before any new net growth in the SES occurs (page 66–7)
  • secretariat support to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (page 68).

APS Bargaining Framework

The APS bargaining framework, released on 31 January 2011 to replace the previous bargaining framework, represented important progress towards a more unified APS with greater commonality in terms and conditions.

The government agreed to continue bargaining at the agency level but to support a more consistent approach to terms and conditions of employment across the APS. The recommended common terms and conditions of employment, which accompany the APS Bargaining Framework, outlined a range of recommended terms and conditions (including leave, working conditions, superannuation and the provision of facilities for employee representatives) which agencies were to strive to achieve through bargaining. The recommendation in relation to wage increases was that increases not exceed an average annual increase of 3% and the increase be underpinned by genuine quantifiable increases to productivity and be affordable within existing agency budgets.

There were 78 APS agencies with agreements which nominally expired on or before 30 June 2011. With the short bargaining period and the significant change in bargaining policy, a key role of the Commission was to provide timely advice and support to agencies in relation to the APS Bargaining Framework and associated recommended terms and conditions.

Under the new framework, APS agencies were required to seek approval to bargaining positions before commencing bargaining and subsequent approval to proposed agreements prior to being put to staff for a vote. These approvals rested with the Special Minister of State for Public Service and Integrity. The government agreed that those bargaining positions and agreements which were consistent with the bargaining framework could be approved by the Commission. Previously the approval role rested with agency ministers, so the change had a significant impact on the work of the Commission.

At 30 June 2011, the Commission had assessed 78 bargaining positions and 35 agreements for approval, either by the Minister or the Commission. Twenty-five agreements had been voted on or were being voted on.

The Commission established regular forums at practitioner and senior management levels to promote knowledge sharing and provide strategic advice across agencies.

This round of bargaining has been challenging across the APS due to the tight timetable, the commitment to moving towards more consistency and the tightened financial constraints needed due to overall budgetary pressures. It is expected that bargaining will continue into 2011–12 with agencies with nominal expiry dates of 30 June 2011 finalising bargaining, and agencies with later expiry dates (some 30 agencies) commencing bargaining during the year.

Policy advice and support

During 2010–11, the Commission assessed:

  • 17 enterprise agreements to ensure compliance with the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework (which applied to APS agencies until 31 January 2011)
  • 78 bargaining positions and 36 enterprise agreements to ensure compliance with the APS Bargaining Framework (which took effect on 31 January 2011).

The Commission issues circulars as necessary to agencies outlining changes in public sector workplace relations and providing advice on bargaining matters. In 2010–11, the Commission distributed five workplace relations circulars to APS agencies.

The Commission provided policy advice to the Minister on a range of workplace arrangements in Australian Government employment during the year.

The Commission continued to maintain the Allowance Subscription 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 provided advice on the Executive Vehicle Scheme policy.

During 2010–11, the Commission conducted the Australian Public Service Remuneration Survey. This annual survey provides participating APS agencies with agency-specific and APS-wide data that helps inform their remuneration practices.

Workforce classification and work-level standards

Senior Executive Service review

The SES review is an APS reform project that stems from recommendation 6.2 of the Blueprint, which required the Commission to complete a review of the size, capability and work-level standards for each level before any new net growth in the SES occurs.

The impetus for the review was the rapid growth of the SES over the past decade.

The Commission engaged former departmental secretary Mr Roger Beale AO, of PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia, to guide, advise on and oversee the review, and engaged Mercer Australia to assist.

The review was conducted in the latter half of 2010 in consultation with agencies. It examined:

  • the rate, geographic location and causes of workforce growth
  • the likelihood of ‘classification creep’
  • the role of the SES in current classification structures.

Consistent with the Blueprint requirements, the review team, with a reference group drawn from APS agencies, developed new work-level standards for each SES classification level in consultation with secretaries and relevant stakeholders. These are currently in draft form but are available for use by agencies.

The Commission also established a second reference group, again drawn from APS agencies, and engaged Hay Group to assist in developing a simple methodology for evaluating SES roles against the work-level standards and a workbook to guide agencies in its use. The work is expected to be completed later in 2011.

The review report was submitted to the Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity in March 2011.

Consistent with the Blueprint recommendations, agency caps on the number of SES have been in place since June 2010. Agencies have reported their SES numbers against the caps each month.

The caps have been administered flexibly to ensure that the SES is deployed across the APS in line with emerging government priorities and changing circumstances.

APS-wide reviews

Blueprint recommendation 6.1 proposed that the Commission undertake APS-wide reviews of the classification structure and work-level standards. The aim of the reviews is to provide greater consistency in classification and work-level standards across the APS to facilitate mobility.

Classification structure

The Commission is examining the extent to which existing APS classification arrangements meet the needs of APS agencies and employees. In August 2010, the Commission conducted a survey of APS agencies to gather information on their use of existing APS classifications, the methodology they use for classifying jobs, and whether they consider the existing classification structure to be adequate for their business needs.

The survey results identified the need to strengthen formal procedures for classifying new roles and broadbanding arrangements. The survey also highlighted the need to review existing APS classifications to determine if they are appropriate for the contemporary APS.

As part of this work, in November 2010, the Commission commenced preliminary research, including mapping of APS agencies’ existing Executive Level work-level standards, with the aim of developing a set of draft common standards for use across the APS. In early 2011, the Commission worked with a reference group drawn from a range of APS agencies to develop draft work-level standards for Executive Levels 1 and 2. Consultation workshops with Executive Level employees were held in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. This research will inform materials that will be used to consult with a wider range of stakeholders during 2011–12.

Further work on these reviews is to be scoped in late 2011.

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 Australian Defence Force
  • 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 the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal’s annual report, available at www.dfrt.gov.au.

The Commission provides secretariat services to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal. In 2010–11, the secretariat provided advice and support in proceedings before the tribunal related to the remuneration and entitlements of members of the Australian Defence Force. The president of the tribunal indicated a high level of satisfaction with the quality and timeliness of the services provided by the secretariat.

Remuneration Tribunal

The Secretariat to the Remuneration Tribunal supports the Tribunal, an independent statutory body established under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 (the Act), 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 and staffed by APS employees.

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

Table 15: Performance information–Remuneration Tribunal
Performance indicator Estimate 2010–11
Level of satisfaction of the President of the Remuneration Tribunal with the quality and timeliness of the services provided by the Tribunal Secretariat Very good or above The President of the Tribunal reported a
very high level of satisfaction with secretariat performance

Parliamentarians’ and judicial office holders’ remuneration and entitlements administered program

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.

The objective of this program is to facilitate 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 5.

Last reviewed: 
11 May 2018