Policy advice and employment services
The Commission provides a range of policy advice and employment services to APS agencies to help them to meet their legislative responsibilities, including on matters covered by the PS Act, and to promote positive, better practice approaches to issues in the workplace.
SES engagements, promotions and termination of employment casework
The Commissioner has a number of responsibilities that relate to SES staffing arrangements, including endorsing selection exercises, agreeing to amounts proposed to be paid as incentives to retire under section 37 of the PS Act, and termination.
In 2012–13, 199 selection exercises were submitted for the Commissioner’s consideration, all of which were endorsed. There were 52 retirements with an incentive under section 37, compared with 69 the previous year. These cases were spread across 28 agencies (24 in 2011–12).
Before an SES employee’s employment can be terminated under section 29 of the PS Act, the agency must request the Commissioner to issue a certificate under section 38 of the PS Act, certifying that the Commissioner is satisfied that the requirements of the Commissioner’s Directions have been met and the termination is in the public interest. There was one such request during 2012–13.
The Commission also administers the cap on the number of SES positions. During 2012–13,
18 requests were received from agencies for increases to their approved cap and 35 for decreases. Overall the total SES cap fell from 3,039 to 2,993 over the course of the year.
Merit-based selection of APS agency heads and statutory office holders
The publication Merit and transparency: Merit-based selection of APS agency heads and APS statutory office holders sets out the government’s policy and procedural guidelines for transparent and merit-based processes to be applied in the selection of most APS agency heads and other statutory office holders working in, or in conjunction with, APS agencies.
In relation to roles covered by the merit and transparency policy, there were 28 selection processes finalised in 2012–13, in which the Commissioner either participated as a member of the selection committee, or was represented on the committee and subsequently endorsed the selection report as required by the policy.
Senior Executive Service advisory service
The Commission’s SES adviser provides SES employees across the APS with an avenue to seek confidential advice from a senior member of the Commission about employment matters. In 2012–13, the SES adviser responded to 37 such queries (44 in 2011–12).
Other employment policy advice
During 2012–13, the Commission continued to provide advice to APS agencies on a range of areas including non-SES recruitment and selection, separation (termination/retirement), workforce classifications and work-level standards, and conditions of employment.
APS redeployment policy and register
The APS-wide online redeployment register was established in May 2011 to assist employees who have been advised that they are, or are likely to be, excess to the requirements of their APS agency.
At 30 June 2013, 606 employees had been referred to the online register. Of these, 186 were redeployed within the APS while 280 employees remain on the register. The remaining staff were either retrenched by their agency or separated from the APS on other grounds.
Performance framework project
The Blueprint recommended the development of a high-performance culture across the APS through strengthening the performance framework. During 2012–13, the Commission led a research project to better understand what constitutes good performance in the APS and to develop a comprehensive performance framework. The project was undertaken in partnership with the Australian National University, the University of Canberra and the University of New South Wales (Canberra).
The culmination of the first tranche of the project was the publication of a report, Strengthening the performance framework: Towards a high performing Australian Public Service (May 2013). The report brings together the findings of existing literature, data from the State of the Service Report 2011–12, agency consultations and cross-case comparisons to generate a new performance framework.
The next phase of the project aims to develop a diagnostic instrument to support agencies in assessing the effectiveness of their current approaches to performance management and to promote consistent and better practices APS-wide. The initial research findings will continue to inform the Commission’s development of guidance material on managing probation and performance. These initiatives will combine to assist agencies in embedding a high-performance culture within the APS.
APSjobs and the electronic APS Employment Gazette
APSjobs is an online employment portal for the APS which offers a simple, user-friendly search system for job seekers and other users. It notifies the public of vacancies (employment opportunities), recruitment outcomes and other APS employment decisions.
The Commission consulted with agencies to identify, develop and implement further enhancements to the functionality of the APSjobs employment portal. In addition, the Commission held monthly meetings with an APSjobs portal design group consisting of specialist recruitment staff from the Australian Taxation Office and the departments of Defence and Human Services, who provided valuable insight into agency processes and practices, and guidance on the design and development of improved functionality for the APSjobs employment portal.
In January 2013, the Commission developed and released Agency Dashboard Reports. This improved reporting functionality provides agencies with the ability to monitor their recruitment activity and trends through the APSjobs employment portal. From January 2013, extensive work has been undertaken to improve the process for the compilation and publication of vacancy and employment decision notices. Agencies benefit from having a streamlined end-to-end notification process for vacancies and the subsequent notification of the recruitment decision (such as engagement or promotion), and a modernised method to enhance compliance with legislative changes. The refreshed APSjobs was launched on 30 August 2013.
Fifty-one editions of the electronic APS Employment Gazette were published in 2012–13 on the APSjobs portal.
In 2012–13, the number of notices lodged on APSjobs decreased by 27% compared to the number lodged in 2011–12 (see Table 6).
|Year||Number of notices lodged||Percentage change on previous year|
Machinery of government changes
The Commission managed 13 machinery of government changes in 2012–13. The most significant changes included:
- the abolition of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency with functions and staff transferred to the (renamed) Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism
- the abolition of the National Native Title Tribunal as a separate APS agency with functions and staff moved to the Federal Court of Australia.
In addition, two new APS agencies, the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency and the Climate Change Authority, were established, while the Wheat Exports Authority was wound up.