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Preface

Section 44 of the Public Service Act 1999 (Public Service Act) provides that the Australian Public Service Commissioner must issue a report each year to the agency's Minister for presentation to the Australian Parliament. The report must include a report on the state of the Australian Public Service (APS) during the year.

The State of the Service Report 2013–14 identifies the year-to-year trends in workforce participation and capability across the APS. The report also details the initiatives and human resource management practices of APS agencies during 2013–14.

This year's State of the Service report is the seventeenth annual report on the state of the APS that Australian Public Service Commissioners have presented to parliament. The report has been significantly enhanced since it was first tabled in 1998.

This year, the State of the Service report has been organised around three key agency capability themes, namely:

  • Efficiency
  • Effectiveness
  • Evaluation.

The report contains an overview addressing key contemporary issues in the APS. The remaining nine chapters of the report are grouped under the three key themes outlined above (and highlighted in the following figure) to provide a focus for understanding a range of organisational capability issues in the APS.

Figure P.1. State of the Service report themes, 2013–14

Source: The Commission

The State of the Service report draws on a range of information sources but its main data sources are the State of the Service Agency Survey (agency survey), the APS Employee Census (employee census) and the APS Employment Database (APSED). The agency survey includes all APS agencies employing at least 20 staff under the Public Service Act. All 100 APS agencies, or semi-autonomous parts of agencies, that were invited to participate in the online agency survey in June 2014, completed the survey. These agencies are listed in Appendix 2. APSED contains information about recruitment, mobility and separations for all ongoing and non-ongoing employees.

To aid analysis of survey data and for comparability with previous years' data, agencies have again been grouped according to size. Of the 100 responding agencies, 23 were classified as large (more than 1,000 APS employees), 30 as medium (251–1,000 APS employees) and 47 as small (20–250 APS employees). Appendix 2 provides information on agency size.

To allow further comparisons between similar organisations, agencies have been categorised based on both their size and primary function. The functional clusters are: policy, smaller operational (less than 1,000 APS employees), larger operational (more than 1,000 APS employees), regulatory and specialist. Appendix 2 lists agency functions.

Similar to last year, in 2014 the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) issued a census to all available APS employees. This census approach provided a comprehensive view of the APS and ensured no eligible respondents were omitted from the survey sample. A total of 99,392 valid responses to the employee census were received, representing a response rate of 68%.

The Commission engaged the services of ORIMA Research and ORC International to deliver and compile statistical output for the agency survey and employee census respectively. Appendix 3 provides information on the agency and employee data collection methodologies.

Agency contact officers in five agencies assisted with testing the agency survey while a number of individual APS employees from ten agencies tested the employee census. The Commission is very grateful for this input.

The Australian Public Service Statistical Bulletin 2013–14 was published on 30 September 2014. Both the Bulletin and the State of the Service Report 2013–14 are available at: http://www.apsc.gov.au.

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