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Machinery of Government changes: A guide

Key message

A Machinery of Government (MoG) change occurs when the Government decides to change the way Commonwealth responsibilities are managed. It can involve the movement of functions, resources and people from one agency to another.

1. Agencies are expected to implement change in a way that is consistent with the principles outlined in the Executive Summary.

A MoG change

2. A MoG change can be the result of:

  • a change to the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO); or
  • the movement of responsibilities and functions between agencies

3. A MoG change can lead to:

  • the creation of a new government agency
  • the closure of an existing government agency; and/or
  • the movement of functions and responsibilities from:
    • an APS agency to another APS agency
    • an APS agency to a non- APS agency
    • a non- APS agency to an APS agency

4. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) will inform agencies of Government decisions resulting in MoG changes.

Administrative Arrangements Order

5. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor-General appoints Ministers, establishes Departments of State and allocates executive responsibility to Ministers through the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO).

6. The AAO is published in the Commonwealth Gazette and posted on the PM&C website. It describes the principal matters dealt with by each Commonwealth department and the legislation administered by the relevant Minister.

7. Changes to the AAO can happen at any time. Changes are more common following a general election as a new Government puts arrangements in place to implement its priorities and programmes.

8. A MoG change within a portfolio, or the movement of some functions between portfolios, may not require changes to the AAO. PM&C will advise on whether a change to the AAO is necessary.

Enabling legislation

9. Legislative change is sometimes needed to put administrative arrangements in place, for example to create or close an agency. Agencies are advised to seek legal advice if legislative change may be necessary. Where legislative change is required, agencies should prepare drafting instructions to issue to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.

Name change

10. It may be necessary to change the names of Departments and agencies or the title of responsible Ministers as they appear in Acts or legislative instruments. In some cases, the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 can be used to give the same effect. The Attorney General's-Department will be able to advise on these matters.

Role of Central Agencies

11. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

  • informs agencies of the Prime Minister's decisions on MoG changes.

12. Australian Public Service Commission

  • makes determinations under section 72 of the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act) to move staff; and
  • advises on the PS Act, remuneration policy, terms and conditions of employment and workplace arrangements.

13. Department of Finance

  • makes determinations under section 75 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 to transfer appropriation funding; and
  • advises on governance arrangements, superannuation, accounting, reporting, banking, information and communication technology, insurance and property management issues.

14. National Archives of Australia

  • permits the transfer of custody or ownership of records outside the Commonwealth where appropriate; and
  • advises on policy, mechanisms and standards for the transfer of information, records and data between agencies.