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Program 1.1: Australian Public Service Commission

This section:

  • summarises the Commission performance against its key performance indicators for program 1.1
  • details the Commission's objectives, deliverables and achievements under program 1.1 during 2014−15 in terms of the following components:
    • APS people and organisational performance
    • Investing in APS development and capability
    • Australian Government employment workplace relations.

Key performance indicators

Table 2 summarises the Commission's performance against its key performance indicators for program 1.1 in 2014–15 and the previous year. The majority of indicators were either met or exceeded.

Table 2: Program 1.1 key performance indicators, 2013–14 to 2014–15
Key performance indicators 2013−14 Actual 2014−15 Target 2014−15 Actual

* 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.

†The Merit Protection Commissioner's annual report addresses the performance of the review function against timeliness targets and measures to address challenges in meeting targets.

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 Not available Very good or above Very good or above
Percentage of high-level use of and satisfaction with the State of the Service Report and other research and evaluation products by the SES, agencies and other clients* 85% 75% 85%
Percentage of responding surveyed participants that attended a Commission program who agreed that the program improved their knowledge and skills 92% 80% 98%
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 Very good or above Very good or above
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 good or above Very good or above
Number of reviews, excluding promotion reviews, finalised on behalf of the Merit Protection Commissioner 227 195 160
Percentage of reviews conducted on behalf of the Merit Protection Commissioner completed within published timeframes† 95% 70% 82%

The 2014–15 Portfolio Budget Statements included the following additional key performance indicators for program 1.1:

  • APS agencies have access to high-quality, contemporary, strategically aligned leadership and talent development programs that build the capability required in the APS.
  • Programs improve leadership and management effectiveness.
  • APS agencies have a range of means for accessing core skills development programs.
  • The quality and consistency of core skills delivery improves across the APS through agency use of quality-assured providers and learning designs.
  • APS agencies have access to thought leadership, support and advice on their leadership development and talent management initiatives.
  • The APS supports the Australian Government's aid program by strengthening the capability of partner governments to develop and implement strategic initiatives that improve their public sector effectiveness and efficiency and the quality of services to citizens.

The Commission's achievements in providing the APS with leadership and talent development programs and core skills programs are discussed on pages 26-8. The Commission's international assistance is discussed on pages 30-1.

APS people and organisational performance


The Commission's objectives during 2014−15 were to:

  • provide high-quality policy advice to the Australian Government, the Minister and the Australian Public Service Commissioner, and employment services, on matters covered by the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act)
  • provide an evidence base for the alignment and quality of APS human capital planning and management to enhance APS-wide and agency capability
  • facilitate the continuous improvement of the approach to APS-wide workforce planning that supports effective deployment and management of human capital
  • manage and provide quality policy advice on the Australian Public Service Commissioner's statutory responsibilities in relation to Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, agency heads and statutory office holders
  • undertake agency capability reviews to assist agencies to improve their institutional capabilities and strengthen accountability for their performance
  • support the review, inquiry and reporting functions of the Australian Public Service Commissioner and the Merit Protection Commissioner and contribute to improving the standards of decision-making and people management practices across the APS
  • work with agencies to implement the amended PS Act and embed the revised APS Values, and promote public service ethics and integrity
  • work with agencies to build a high-performance culture across the APS
  • ensure that APS agencies have access to leadership strategies to enhance agency-specific capability and leadership development through guidance, networks and client engagement activities
  • deliver initiatives under the Indigenous Employment Strategy to improve the retention of Indigenous staff in the APS and work with agencies to continue to focus on the strategies in the APS Indigenous Pathways Program
  • contribute to enhancing the diversity of the APS to ensure it reflects and is responsive to the wider community, and to work with agencies to implement the As one—Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy, aimed at strengthening the APS as a progressive and sustainable employer of people with disability.

Key achievements

During 2014−15, the Commission's achievements included:

  • promulgating the Commissioner's new directions for performance management
  • successfully managing the interim arrangements for recruitment, which resulted in a significant reduction in the size of the APS
  • facilitating agencies' recruitment of 80 Indigenous employees under the APS Indigenous Pathways Program
  • revising the requirements for gazetting termination of employment decisions
  • launching an updated edition of Handling misconduct: A human resource manager's guide
  • delivering three agency capability reviews and six agency health checks
  • releasing the State of the Service Report 2013–14 in December 2014.


Table 3 summarises the Commission's performance against its deliverables for 2014–15.

Table 3: Deliverables—APS people and organisational performance, 2014–15
Deliverables 2014–15 result
Provide high-quality policy advice to the Australian Government, the Minister and the Australian Public Service Commissioner on matters covered by the PS Act Met
Monitor and support the continuous and sustainable development of agencies' workforce planning and capability frameworks and benchmarking processes Met
Support the review, inquiry and reporting functions and contribute to improving the standards of decision-making and people management practices across the APS Met
Work with agencies to embed the APS Values so that they are effective in driving performance and cultural change, and promote public service ethics and integrity Met
Provide agency capability reviews, reports and capability improvement plans Met
Embed attitudinal and behavioural change in the management of performance to build a high-performance culture across the APS In progress
Improve retention, over time, of Indigenous staff through strategies under the Indigenous Employment Strategy and support the As one―Australian Public Service Disability Employment Strategy aimed at strengthening the APS as a progressive and sustainable employer of people with disability In progress
Publish the State of the Service Report and other reports to assist in advising the government and the APS Met
Deliver the Ethics Advisory Service to assist employees and agencies Met
Meet performance benchmarks in discharging statutory functions in respect of SES matters Met


Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013

The Commissioner issued a revised direction under section 11A of the PS Act amending the requirements for notifying termination of employment decisions in the Public Service Gazette. It came into effect in November 2014.

Another new direction was introduced to support the APS Employment Principle requiring effective performance from each employee. It will come into effect on 1 July 2015.

Public Interest Disclosure Act

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) came into effect on 1 January 2014. The Commission worked closely with the Commonwealth Ombudsman's office to develop guidance on the connection between the PID Act and management of breaches of the APS Code of Conduct.

Upholding integrity in the APS

Integrity Agencies Group

The Integrity Agencies Group, chaired by the Australian Public Service Commissioner and comprising senior APS leaders, focuses on integrity and ethical decision-making. The group met twice during the reporting period—in December 2014 and June 2015.

Handling misconduct

The Commission released a revised edition of Handling misconduct: A human resource manager's guide in June 2015. The guide reflects recent changes to a number of Acts and provides advice in new areas.

Ethics Advisory Service

The Ethics Advisory Service received 565 inquiries in 2014−15. The categories with the highest proportions concerned reporting and managing misconduct, relationships in the workplace and conflicts of interest. The inquiries came from staff in 77 agencies.

The Ethics Advisory Service delivered information sessions and training on the APS Values and Code of Conduct to APS agencies. In addition, the Commission supported the Ethics Contact Officer Network, which met twice during 2014-15.

APS Values and Code of Conduct in practice

Work is well advanced on updating APS Values and Code of Conduct in practice: A guide for official conduct for APS employees and agency heads. The revised guide will be launched in the first half of 2015−16.

Disclosing outcomes of misconduct complaints

The Commission released a public discussion paper as part of a review of its guidance on the information that should be disclosed to a complainant about the outcome of their complaint of misconduct by an APS employee. Feedback on the discussion paper will contribute to revised guidance to be published on the Commission's website during 2015−16.

Inquiries into allegations of misconduct

The Commissioner's functions include inquiring into alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by agency heads and statutory office holders.

Twelve reports were finalised in 2014–15, including three carried over from 2013–14. None of these reports resulted in an investigation. One report was on hand at the end of 2014–15.

Under certain circumstances, the Commissioner also has the function of determining whether an APS employee, or former employee, has breached the Code of Conduct. One inquiry was completed during 2014–15.

The whistleblowing provisions in the PS Act, dealing with allegations of breaches of the Code of Conduct, were repealed in January 2014 when the PID Act came into effect. Transitional provisions allowed for the one whistleblowing report on hand at the end of 2013−14 to be finalised in 2014–15.

Two inquiries into allegations against statutory office holders made by APS employees or members of the public were finalised. Neither resulted in a recommendation to commence proceedings.

Other inquiries

At the request of the Prime Minister, the Commissioner conducted a general review of the roles and responsibilities of individual public servants during the Home Insulation Program. The review was completed in March 2015.

Strategic leadership

The Commission provides support to a number of high-level APS strategic leadership groups. The Commission also supports Australia's participation in cross-jurisdictional and international forums.

Secretaries' performance framework

In early 2015, the Commissioner and the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet reviewed the annual performance management framework for secretaries. The aim of the review was to ensure that the framework encourages a culture of high performance and excellence. This worked resulted in a simplified framework that places a greater emphasis on setting clear forward objectives to support key government policy priorities.

Public Service Commissioners' Conference

The Commission provides secretariat and research support to the Public Service Commissioners' Conference, which 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. Conferences were held on 14 November 2014 in Melbourne and on 1 May 2015 in Sydney.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

The Commission regularly provides responses to requests by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for information or validation of Australian data. During 2014−15, most of this activity centred on the OECD's planned release in 2015 of its biennial publication Government at a glance. The Commission also provided input to the OECD's assessment of its possible future activities.

Stephanie Foster, Deputy Public Service Commissioner, is Australia's delegate to the OECD's Public Governance Committee.

APS recruitment and selection services

The Commission provides agencies with selection and recruitment services on a fee-for-service basis. Agencies can also request advice on legislative requirements and contemporary best practice.

During 2014−15, 271 employment-related requests were received from 26 agencies.

Workplace equity and diversity

The Commission continued to focus on improving the representation of Indigenous Australians and  people with disability in the APS.

Indigenous representation

The Commission continued its initiatives to support agencies to improve Indigenous employment outcomes. Indigenous representation in the APS was 2.6% in 2014–15.

The Commission assisted agencies to employ 27 graduates and 53 trainees through the APS Indigenous Pathways Program. More than 1,100 Indigenous Australians have been employed through the program since it was introduced 10 years ago. This equates to 25% of all Indigenous engagements in the APS.

The Commission continued to provide Indigenous employees with opportunities for professional networking and training. Initiatives in 2014–15 included a strengthened orientation program for new graduates and trainees and a formal induction for supervisors of trainees to ensure that they are aware of their obligations.

The Indigenous Careers Facebook site and an Indigenous Careers Portal were launched to provide information about employment opportunities and tips for navigating recruitment processes.

In consultation with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Commission developed the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy. The strategy will support the Commonwealth in achieving an Indigenous representation rate of 3% in the APS by 2018.

Diversity networks and forums

The Disability Champions Network was established under the auspices of the APS Diversity Council and met for the first time in June 2014. The network brings together senior-level advocates to focus on disability employment matters.

As part of the network, the Commission facilitated an open forum involving 10 employees with disability and 10 senior executive Disability Champions. The aim of the forum was to raise awareness of the areas in which the employment experience of employees with disability could be improved.

The Commission ran Indigenous employee forums in 10 locations across Australia. These forums, attended by approximately 400 employees, contributed to identifying, and acting on, issues experienced by Indigenous employees. The Commission also continued the quarterly Indigenous employment human resources forum.

The Commission provides secretariat support to the APS Diversity Council. During 2014−15, the council met twice and advanced several key initiatives, which included:

  • a research program on Indigenous employee retention
  • implementation of the RecruitAbility scheme across the APS
  • the APS Diversity Awards.

Capability reviews

In 2011, the Commission commenced a program of agency capability reviews. These independent reviews identify organisational strengths and areas for improvement with the aim of raising productivity. Follow-up 'health checks' are available to agencies to evaluate the extent to which their capability has improved.

During 2014−15, three capability reviews were undertaken, six reports were publicly released and six health checks were completed.

The Commission has now delivered 24 capability reviews. Additional reviews will be undertaken when requested by agencies.

Performance management

The performance management diagnostic―a tool for reviewing agency performance management systems―was introduced in 2014. Several agencies have since adopted the tool.

Amendments to the PS Act to include the APS Employment Principles were passed in July 2013. New Commissioner's directions on the effective performance principle were promulgated in December 2014. The directions outline specific performance-related obligations for agency heads, supervisors and employees.

During May and June 2015, the Commission conducted an outreach program to assist agencies to prepare for the 1 July commencement of the new directions. Presentations were conducted in Brisbane, Canberra, Western Sydney, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Tasmania.

The Commission released its core skills modules for performance management in August 2014. At June 2015, more than 1,200 public servants had participated in the courses.

Policy advice and employment services

The Commission provides employment and policy advice to agencies and administers the Commissioner's responsibilities under the PS Act and subordinate legislation.

Senior Executive Service employment

Until 1 July 2015, the Commissioner's Directions 2013 required all SES selection exercises that resulted in promotion or engagement to be endorsed by the Commissioner. During 2014−15, the Commissioner endorsed 125 selection exercises, compared to 89 in 2013−14. Over the past two years, the number of endorsements has been significantly lower than the long-term average, reflecting the Australian Government's smaller government agenda.

The Commission administers a cap on the number of SES positions in the APS. The downward trend in the number of positions continued in 2014−15, reducing by 147 on the previous year, from 2,898 to 2,751.

During 2014−15, 150 SES employees retired from the APS with the payment of an incentive amount under section 37 of the PS Act. This compares to 181 in 2013−14. The number of retirements continues to be higher than the long-term trend.

Senior Executive Service advisory service

The Commission's SES Adviser provides confidential advice on a range of employment matters to SES employees across the APS. In 2014–15, the SES Adviser responded to 70 queries, compared to 71 in 2013–14.

Interim arrangements for APS recruitment

The interim arrangements for APS recruitment were introduced in late 2013 as part of the Australian Government's commitment to reduce the size of the APS.

During 2014–15, the Commission worked with agencies to implement the interim arrangements, while supporting them to advertise critical roles. This included support for entry-level recruitment programs― graduate development programs and diversity programs for Indigenous people and people with disability.

Between 30 June 2013 and 31 December 2014, the APS reduced its headcount by 14,414.

The Commissioner considered almost 1,000 requests from APS agencies to advertise jobs in the Public Service Gazette. More than 450 employees were redeployed through the APS Redeployment Register.

In the 2015−16 Budget, the government announced that the interim arrangements for APS recruitment would be modified. From 1 July 2015, agency heads will be able to advertise vacancies in the Public Service Gazette as open to all eligible members of the community without the prior approval of the Commissioner. The interim arrangements will be replaced with a system to monitor agencies' staffing numbers against their budgeted average staffing levels.

APSjobs employment portal―electronic Public Service Gazette

APSjobs is an online employment portal that offers a simple, user-friendly system to job seekers looking for employment in the APS. It also incorporates the electronic Public Service Gazette, which enables agencies to satisfy legislative requirements.

During 2014−15, the Commission published 49 issues of the Public Service Gazette, listing advertised vacancies, recruitment outcomes, and certain other APS employment decisions. The APSjobs portal was modified twice during the year to support the interim recruitment arrangements.

Table 4 shows the number of notices lodged in 2014–15 compared to the previous three years.

Table 4: Number of gazette notices lodged, 2011−12 to 2014−15
  Number of notices Percentage change on previous year
2011–12 42,254 –8
2012–13 30,829 –27
2013–14 17,230 −44
2014–15 15,259 −11

Data analysis and benchmarking

The Commission, through its statistical analysis and research capability, advises the APS and its leadership on emerging workforce challenges. APS performance is benchmarked against comparable overseas jurisdictions.

APS Statistical Bulletin and snAPShots

The Commission publishes two sets of APS demographic data each year. The first is the APS Statistical Bulletin, which is part of the State of the Service Report series of publications. The bulletin provides an overview of APS-wide staffing at 30 June and includes staff movements. Agencies can use the data to benchmark themselves against APS-wide workforce trends. The bulletin also shows 15 years of data on population, engagements and separations. The second publication, snAPShots, contains employment data at 31 December. Both publications are available on the Commission's website.

APS Employment Database

The Commission collects data from APS agencies' human resource systems to build a career history for every APS employee. This data is stored on the APS Employment Database (APSED). APSED is used for reporting to government, analysis for the State of the Service Report, workforce planning, benchmarking and policy research. It is also the source for the APS Statistical Bulletin and snAPShots.

The Commission uses APSED to monitor the size of the APS workforce as well as employee engagements to and separations from the APS. APSED data was used by the Northern Australia Taskforce in the preparation of the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, released in June 2015. Data was also used to set the Commonwealth Indigenous Employment Strategy target.

APSED internet interface

The APSED internet interface (APSEDii) promotes better practice in workforce planning and benchmarking. It presents data from APSED using tables and charts with functions that allow customised access to the data. Registered users from APS agencies can access more detailed data and can also make comparisons with other agencies or groups of agencies.

APS Remuneration Report

The APS Remuneration Report is a public document that provides a picture of remuneration of APS employees and annual changes in levels of remuneration. The report is based on data sent to the Commission by APS agencies for all active employees at 31 December each year. The data covers salaries, allowances, bonuses and superannuation. APS agency heads receive a confidential individual agency report that benchmarks remuneration in their agency against the wider APS.

State of the Service Report

Under section 44 of the PS Act, the Commissioner is required to report annually on the state of the APS. The State of the Service Report 2013–14 was tabled in parliament in December 2014.

The report takes a systems-level view of the APS, providing analysis centred on three themes—efficiency, effectiveness and evaluation. Areas of specific focus include leadership capability, managing risk and change, innovation, and performance and accountability. The report is available on the Commission's website.

The data presented in the report was drawn from a wide range of sources, including 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.

Two surveys conducted by the Commission also contributed to the report:

  • An agency survey provided information on a wide range of management and capability issues in agencies. The Commission conducted the agency survey online and achieved a response rate of 100%.
  • The APS employee census, which was sent to all APS employees, provided data on attitudes to, and understanding of, a variety of work-related issues. The 2014 census achieved a response rate of 68%.

Human capital analysis and evaluation activities

The Commission conducts a wide range of activities to inform and support agency-level and APS-level business decision-making. These include an APS entry and exit survey, the APS Human Capital Research Forum, the publication Human Capital Matters, complex evaluations, and customised surveys to meet specific agency needs. The Commission also provides agencies with tailored analysis of existing data sources―for example, extra analysis of APS employee census data or agency survey data.

Investing in APS development and capability


The Commission's objectives during 2014−15 were to:

  • reinvigorate strategic leadership by enhancing the capability of current and future APS leaders
  • enhance the core skills of the APS workforce
  • enable agencies to enhance their approach to leadership development, talent management and core skills learning and development
  • assist APS agencies to achieve effective and efficient procurement of capability development services
  • assist identified international governments to build public sector capability and capacity on behalf of the Australian Government.

Key achievements

During 2014–15, the Commission's achievements included:

  • delivering new SES Band 1 talent development, Executive Level 2 (EL 2) leadership and core skills programs
  • coordinating the APS Human Resources Summit 2014, which addressed current and future business challenges, including strategies and practices required to respond to those challenges
  • partnering with Jawun (a not-for-profit organisation) to coordinate the short-term secondment of 74 APS employees to Indigenous organisations
  • partnering with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to assist in establishing the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct in Papua New Guinea.


Table 5 summarises the Commission's performance against its deliverables for 2014–15.

Table 5: Program 1.1 deliverables—Investing in APS development and capability
Deliverables 2014–15 result
Develop and review the APS Leadership and Core Skills Strategy to ensure that it reflects the current and emerging business needs of the APS, drawing on evidence-based research and best practice Met
Design, develop and deliver best practice, contemporary leadership development programs and interventions Met
Design, develop and deliver intensive development for high-potential leaders Met
Design contemporary, best practice learning programs and interventions relating to management and core skills Met
Conduct quality assessments of development providers Met
Centrally procure programs where there is a return on investment in terms of efficiency and/or cultural benefits Met
Improve evaluation of program outcomes Met
Provide thought leadership, support and advice to agencies on best practice in the areas of leadership, learning and development Met
Provide a range of leadership and professional development programs that build knowledge and skills to improve capability Met
Establish and manage panels of high-quality suppliers whose services support APS development and capability Met
Strengthen the capability of partner governments to develop and implement strategic initiatives that improve their public sector effectiveness and efficiency and the quality of services to citizens Met

APS leadership, learning and development

The Commission released new talent development, leadership and core skills programs that reflect contemporary thinking and practice. Programs developed in previous years continued to be delivered and improved, and support for national programs, such as the Jawun Indigenous secondment program, was maintained.

Talent development

The new SES Band 1 talent development program commenced in July 2014. Two cohorts completed the program and another is due to conclude in October 2015.


Following endorsement by the Secretaries Board in November 2014, two new EL 2 leadership programs were developed and delivered:

  • EL 2 Leadership Practice, for new middle managers
  • EL 2 Leadership Expansion, for experienced middle managers with existing leadership capabilities.

Core skills

A range of core skills programs were piloted and evaluated during 2014−15. Comprehensive learning materials relating to the programs were also released for APS agencies to use, including facilitator and participant guides. Table 6 lists the core skills programs released in 2014−15 and those in final development for piloting during the second half of 2015.

Table 6: Core skills programs
Programs released during 2014−15
Appearing before parliamentary committees Introduction to the Cabinet process and preparing for Cabinet submissions
APS ethics and values Performance management
Briefing and responding to APS decision-makers, ministers and parliament Planning and managing change
Building and leading high-performing teams SES risk management
Building relationships and engagement Structuring work
Coaching and developing others Understanding government
Compelling communications Working in teams
Dealing with change Working with the minister
Programs in final development as of 30 June 2015
Analytical thinking Procurement essentials and contract management
APS decision-making Working with diversity
APS frameworks Working with stakeholders
Getting the most out of diversity  

Program delivery

Table 7 details the number of programs delivered in 2014–15 and the total number of participants.

Table 7: Total number of programs and participants, 2014−15
APS level No. of programs No. of participants
SES 20 279
Executive Level 1 and 2 194 2,939
APS 1−6 268 4,056
Graduate 1 69
Total 483 7,343

Executive Level Leadership Network

The Executive Level Leadership Network provides an opportunity for middle-level APS managers to strengthen their leadership practice by hearing from a range of engaging speakers, sharing experiences with colleagues, and building collaborative networks. During 2014–15, a total of 1,000 participants registered for two seminars.

Graduate events

Graduate events provide an opportunity for APS graduates to build their knowledge of current issues and establish strong networks with their colleagues across agencies. Four events were held during the year, with an average registration of 650 participants for each event:

  • Working Together to Close the Gap, August 2014
  • Candid Reflections, November 2014
  • A Taste of Government, March 2015
  • Great Graduate Debate, June 2015.

Panel services

The Commission's panel services facilitated the procurement of capability development services by 67 government agencies under memorandums of understanding.

Overall, 438 contracts were entered into, with a large number using the learning and development and business services panels. This amounted to over $60.6 million worth of products and services.

Table 8 shows the total number of contracts and estimated contract value by panel.

Table 8: Number of panel services contracts and estimated value by panel, 2014−15
Panel No. of contracts entered into Estimated contract value ($ million)
Learning and development 259 14.5
Business services 117 38.5
Executive search and recruitment 43 5.9
E-learning 13 1.5
Research 6 0.2
Total 438 60.6

Regional forums and networks

The Australian Government Leadership Networks (AGLNs) bring together agency heads and other senior APS leaders who are based outside Canberra.

The People Management Networks (PMNs) engage human resource professionals and APS employees working in people management.

Nearly 2,000 people from across the country attended AGLN and PMN events during 2014–15. In addition, 450 people attended the annual AGLN conferences held in all state capital cities under the theme 'Towards excellence―building capacity for change'.

APS Human Resources Summit 2014

The annual APS Human Resources Summit is part of a broader strategy to improve human resources capability in the APS. The 2014 summit attracted more than 120 heads of human resources who heard the former Commissioner and a panel of secretaries speak about current and future business challenges. A panel of deputy secretaries outlined ways to improve change and risk management and shared service capability. Other speakers included a company board member and human resources executives from the private sector.

National programs and relationships with higher education institutions

The Commission maintained its support of the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation, the Jawun Indigenous secondment program, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and the Public Sector Management Program.

Sir Roland Wilson Foundation

The Commission continued to coordinate the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation Scholarships, which support research in areas of priority public interest. Nominations for the fourth round of scholarships resulted in the selection of four high-potential APS Executive Level employees who began their studies in February 2015.

Jawun Indigenous secondment program

The Commission partnered with Jawun in coordinating the short-term secondment of 74 APS employees to Indigenous organisations.

Australia and New Zealand School of Government

The Commission continued to administer the deed of agreement between the Commonwealth and ANZSOG in relation to a $10 million repayable capital grant made to ANZSOG in May 2005. Interest generated from the grant supports the Sir John Bunting Chair of Public Administration at the Australian National University and other academic research appointments.

Public Sector Management Program

The Public Sector Management Program continued as a national leadership program for emerging public sector managers across Australia. It targets staff in the APS 6 to EL 2 ranges.

The Queensland University of Technology introduced a new curriculum in 2015. There were approximately 400 new enrolments for the 2015 academic year.

In April 2015, the program's board of management was replaced by a curriculum advisory committee. The Commission manages the contract with Queensland University of Technology and provides secretariat support to the committee.

International programs

The Commission continued its partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to develop public sector capacity in the Asia–Pacific region and Africa. Programs were delivered in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Ghana, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Kiribati.

Papua New Guinea

The Commission continued a long-standing partnership with the PNG Department of Personnel Management. The key aims of the Commission's collaboration are developing a PNG State of the Service Report and establishing an emerging women leaders programme to promote and empower women in the PNG public service.

The Commission is partnering with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in establishing the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct. The precinct will include PNG's School of Government at the Institute of Public Administration and a new School of Business and Public Policy at the University of Papua New Guinea.


The Commission has established institutional partnerships with the Indonesian Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform and the new Indonesian Civil Service Commission to support the implementation of reforms across the Indonesian public sector.

The focus in 2014–15 was on supporting implementation of the Indonesian civil service law and capability reviews and also developing an employee performance management framework.


In December 2014, the Commission completed a three-year partnership with the Ghana Public Services Commission that focused on strengthening accountability across the public service. A key outcome was the delivery of Ghana's first State of the Public Service Report in March 2015.

Pacific island countries

The Commission worked with the Republic of the Marshall Islands Public Service Commission to implement public sector workforce planning. Public sector agencies in the Marshall Islands have begun aligning their workforce profiles with organisational, whole-of-government and national strategic priorities.

The Commission assisted the Kiribati Public Service Office to implement improvements to human resource management practices. As a result, all public service agencies in Kiribati now develop annual workforce plans and use a standardised individual performance management system.

Official international visits

The Commission hosted 19 delegations from Bangladesh, Canada, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa and Thailand.

Australian Government employment workplace relations


The Commission's objectives during 2014−15 were to:

  • foster efficient APS workforce relations to ensure employment bargaining supports affordable and productive workforce arrangements and to provide advice and support for workplace relations within Australian Government employment
  • strengthen and streamline the employment bargaining framework
  • enhance and maintain employment frameworks, including classification and work-level standards, to support cost-effective whole-of-APS delivery to government and stakeholders
  • advise agencies on the impact of machinery of government changes on the terms and conditions of employees
  • assist in the process of modernising the APS Award and several non-APS awards
  • assist the Remuneration Tribunal and the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal to meet their statutory obligations.

Key achievements

During 2014–15, the Commission's achievements included:

  • assisting agencies to develop modern, flexible enterprise agreements that support organisational agility
  • working with agencies through enterprise bargaining to focus on workforce productivity and compliance with government policy
  • modernising the APS Award to reflect terms and conditions of employment appropriate to contemporary workplaces
  • amending the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 to provide agencies with consistent work-level standards to apply when allocating an APS level or Executive Level classification.


Table 9 summarises the Commission's performance against its deliverables for 2014–15.

Table 9: Program 1.1 deliverables—Australian Government employment workplace relations
Deliverables 2014–15 result
Provide high-quality advice to agencies and the Minister on workplace employment arrangements Met
Administer enterprise bargaining arrangements Met
Maintain and support the policy and employment frameworks, including the APS-wide work-level standards and classifications, to ensure that these arrangements support a unified APS Met
Provide high-quality advisory and administrative support to the Remuneration Tribunal and the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal Met

Australian Government public sector bargaining

Under the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy, agencies are required to negotiate remuneration increases that are affordable and offset by genuine productivity gains that satisfy the Australian Public Service Commissioner.

During 2014–15, the Commission worked with APS and non-APS agencies to ensure that proposed remuneration increases complied with the policy. The Department of Finance assisted the Commission by providing assessments on the affordability of remuneration increases proposed by agencies.

Over successive bargaining rounds, Australian Government public sector enterprise agreements have accumulated extraneous content and unnecessary detail. This has curbed operational decision-making and limited flexibility. The Commission worked closely with agencies to develop draft enterprise agreements that are consistent with government policy. These agreements are modern, clear and simple, and better support organisational agility.

Modernisation of Australian Government public sector awards

The Commission worked with the parties to the Australian Public Service Award 1998 and the Fair Work Commission to develop a simple, easy-to-understand modern award.

The Fair Work Commission made the Australian Public Service Enterprise Award 2015 on 14 May 2015. The 2015 Award is now in effect, and replaces the 1998 Award. The 2015 Award sets a relevant safety net of terms and conditions for APS employment.

A number of Australian Government agencies are covered by their own awards. The Commission will work with these agencies to modernise award coverage in Australian Government public sector employment.

APS classification review

In December 2014, the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 were amended to mandate the use of work-level standards issued by the Commissioner for allocating an APS level or Executive Level classification. The Commission also released a role evaluation tool to assist agencies to make decisions about classifications.

APS Executive Remuneration Policy

The Commission has responsibility for the APS Executive Remuneration Policy. The policy requires the agreement of the Commissioner when offers of remuneration made to APS employees are above a specified amount. This amount is calculated as a percentage of the base remuneration of the secretaries' classification structure. No requests were received by the Commissioner in 2014−15.

Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal

The Commission provides secretariat services to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT). The Commission's DFRT Advocate undertakes work to inform the Commonwealth's position on remuneration arrangements in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). This includes representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service in matters before the DFRT.

During 2014-15, the Commission worked with the ADF, including the Defence Force Advocate, to review and develop cases referred to the independent tribunal.

The parties made progress on completing phase two of the salary-related allowances review. These allowances compensate ADF members for the restrictions and hardships associated with military service. Major cases included the reviews of the field allowance and allowances for Special Forces. A significant salary case was the 2014–17 Workplace Remuneration Arrangement. The arrangement provides ADF members with annual pay rises of 2%.

The tribunal reports annually on its activities on its website.

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 Commission continued to provide secretariat support during the reporting period.

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.

Last reviewed: 
14 May 2018