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Program 1.1—component 1.1.1: APS people and organisational performance (part 11)

Data analysis and benchmarking

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

APS Statistical Bulletin

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

APS Employment Database

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

APSED is an important tool for ensuring cross-service accountability, especially for the State of the Service Report, and is also used extensively for research. For example, during 2012–13, APSED was used to support media and parliamentary enquiries through the Minister’s office, as well as analysis of the demographics of staff accepting retrenchments across agencies, and research on workforce trends in diversity groups.

A selection of summary tables of data as at 31 December 2012 is available on the Commission’s website.

APSED internet interface

The APSED internet interface (APSEDii) promotes better practice in workforce planning and benchmarking by enabling users to produce data similar to that published in the APS Statistical Bulletin. APSEDii users can also produce cross-tabulation data and download the results for further analysis. More than 87 agency users in some 34 agencies can access more detailed information on APSEDii through a secure logon and password procedure. Designated users can examine unit record information for employees in their agency to improve workforce planning and enhance data quality. In 2012–13, more than 3,700 queries were run.

Development work is underway on adding a number of metrics to APSEDii and additional dashboard functionality, which is expected to be implemented by November 2013.

State of the Service Report

Under section 44(2) of the PS Act, the Commissioner is required to report annually on the state of the APS. The State of the Service Report 2011–12 was tabled in parliament in November 2012. The report provided analysis around three themes: leadership and culture, human capital management and organisational effectiveness.

The report is an authoritative source of data and information on the changing workforce trends of the APS. It is frequently cited by public policy academics nationally and internationally, and is an important reference for the APS more generally, including departmental executives, human resource managers and Commission staff.

The report noted that the Blueprint has been largely implemented and emphasised the shift towards continuous improvement in the APS. It built on work on developing the employee engagement model and contained a level of description, analysis and interpretation that exceeded previous reports. Areas of specific focus included leadership, engagement, the ageing APS workforce, diversity and the capability reviews. It is available from the Commission’s website.

Data sources

In compiling the State of the Service Report 2011–12, the Commission drew on a wide range of data sources. These included the Commission’s own research and databases (particularly APSED), published and unpublished material from other agencies, Australian National Audit Office reports and, where available, comparable data from other Australian and international jurisdictions.

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

  • The agency survey provided information on a wide range of management and capability issues in agencies with 20 or more employees. The Commission conducted the agency survey online and achieved a response rate of 100% from the 102 agencies in scope.
  • The employee census (sent to all APS employees) provided data on attitudes to, and understanding of, a variety of issues, including work–life balance, job satisfaction, working with external stakeholders, the APS Values and Code of Conduct, diversity, individual performance management, and harassment and bullying. The Commission conducted the census for the first time in 2012 and it achieved a response rate of 55% or 87,214 respondents.


To evaluate readers’ perceptions of the report, a short questionnaire was made available through the Commission’s website. Agency points of contact for the employee census were actively encouraged to complete the evaluation questions. The questionnaire asked for general impressions of the report, the usefulness of the chapters and any additional comments. The feedback—from 114 respondents—was positive. Ninety-seven per cent of respondents agreed the report was a useful resource. Similarly, 97% were satisfied with the quality of the report and agreed that it adequately evaluated the state of the APS. Finally, 93% agreed the report covered interesting issues.

Planning for next report

The three themes for the 2012–13 State of the Service Report will be the same as the last two reports, which followed the broad direction of the Blueprint. These themes are leadership and culture, human capital management and organisational effectiveness. State of the Service reports will continue to be an important evidence source for assessing how well the APS is performing in the key areas of reform identified in the Blueprint.

Specific areas of investigation for the 2012–13 report include employee health and wellbeing, flexible working arrangements and applications, workforce planning and strategy, and a regional view of the APS.

Continuing on from 2012, an employee census, rather than a survey, was conducted in 2013, with over 160,000 APS employees invited to participate. The 2013 employee census, which was conducted over one month, achieved a response rate of 66% or more than 102,000 respondents. While a stratified random sample provided reliable results at an APS-wide level in previous years, the results of the census provide more reliable results for smaller demographic groups (such as Indigenous employees, employees with disability and SES employees) and more reliable reporting at the agency level.

Last reviewed: 
11 May 2018