Accountability is the mechanism through which authority and responsibility are brought into alignment. For organisations to function well, everyone needs to know what they are accountable for and accept the responsibility and authority for performing it.
Findings from Capability Reviews demonstrate that agencies with relatively strong governance arrangements ensure that business planning provides a clear line of sight from government priorities through to section-level activities and individual performance plans. They also ensure the accountabilities and responsibilities of committees are clear and well aligned to facilitate effective decision-making and make the best use of members' time.
Accountability can also be built into an organisation through effective management structures. Work has started in the APS to reaffirm work value as the basis for classifying roles. In 2012, the Commission issued mandatory work-level standards for the SES with agencies required to evaluate all SES roles by the end of 2014. The Commission also released work-level standards for APS 1–6 and EL classifications and it is expected that agencies will apply these before the end of the calendar year.
Additionally, the PGPA Act and amendments to the Public Service Act, along with new training options and the development of diagnostic tools, supports and improves the ability of APS managers to better manage organisational and individual employee performance.
Recent reports have highlighted deficiencies in the clarity of roles and performance expectations, and individual accountability and responsibility in the APS. The absence of a relevant performance agreement, lack of timely feedback on employee performance and the absence of clear and measurable goals (the importance of which may not been communicated to employees) has significant negative impact on individual, team and agency performance. The Public Service Act requires effective performance from each employee; consequently, effectively managing employee performance is a core responsibility of all supervisors in the APS. Improving in this area requires all APS managers to accept responsibility for managing performance to ensure it receives close and constant attention.