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APSC News July 2015: fostering a flexible, efficient, high performing APS

Welcome to the July edition of APSC News. There’s a lot happening: lifting the recruitment restrictions with effect from 1 July 2015; streamlining the Commissioner’s Directions to reduce red tape; trialling new approaches to talent management; and an increasing number of agencies putting their enterprise agreements to the vote.

The APSC is also implementing a new structure with effect from 1 July. It serves three primary objectives. Firstly it simplifies the structure to make it easier to find advice and assistance. Secondly, it increases our flexibility to align resources to priorities. Finally, it emphasises our focus on working with agencies on critical APS-wide issues such as talent and leadership development, performance management and workplace relations. You’ll find points of contact for all services in the link above.

Handling misconduct

The Australian Public Service has a sound reputation for high levels of integrity.Show more

Inappropriate behaviour or activities can have adverse consequences on the ability of the public service to function. This is why as public servants we have obligations to act consistently with the APS Code of Conduct. Each agency must provide employees with guidance and training on appropriate conduct in the workplace.

To support agencies, managers and employees, the Commission has recently released the publication Handling Misconduct: a human resource manager’s guide. It provides up to date information on how to manage suspected breaches of the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct. The updated guide reflects recent amendments to legislation. You will find comprehensive information about various scenarios involving misconduct.

For further information, please contact the Ethics Advisory Service on (02) 6202 3737 or by emailing paul.casimir [at] apsc.gov.au.  Hide content

Private sector secondments for talented SES

A small group of the Senior Executive Service (SES) are set to commence secondments to private sector companies as part of an overarching strategy to promote more effective engagement with the business sector.Show more

The Commission is working with the Business Council of Australia (BCA) to trial APS secondments to the BCA’s member companies. This cross-APS initiative will complement programs already in train in individual agencies such as The Treasury and the Department of Industry and Science.

The secondments are an opportunity for senior public servants to gain insights into the pressures shaping Australian business. The aim of the program is to ensure that senior executives have a deeper understanding of business operations and challenges. This should strengthen the expertise of officials and the capacity to deliver programs and services more effectively.

If the placements prove to be successful, agencies will be invited to nominate talented SES for the next round of secondments. Nominations are expected to open in October. Secondments will commence in the first quarter of 2016.

For further information, please contact Katherine Power at katherine.power [at] apsc.gov.au.  Hide content

Talent management

The APSC has just completed a new talent management guide, drawing on the experience and needs of agencies. The guide will be available online shortly.Show more

Talent management is a business strategy used widely in the private sector and increasingly being adopted in the public sector. It involves identifying employees who are able to make a greater contribution by taking on more complex roles, and then providing targeted development and support so that these individuals can be deployed into challenging, business critical roles.

This guide complements the intensive talent development programs run over recent years by the APSC for SES employees. Agencies will be able to use the guide internally. It includes practical tools to bring some rigour and consistency to approaches across the APS. Some agencies have also expressed interest in using the approach across a number of agencies, initially at the Band 1 level, and we are currently exploring with them ways to trial this.
For further information, please contact Katherine Power at katherine.power [at] apsc.gov.au   Hide content

Reducing internal red tape

Repealing unnecessary red tape—both internal and external—is an important priority for the APS.Show more

The Commission is reviewing the regulation it imposes on agencies, with a view to increasing the flexibility agencies have to manage their workforces effectively.

The first tranche of this work has been completed through amendments to the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2013. These amendments, which took effect 1 July 2015, remove detail that is no longer needed. The content has also been simplified so that the Directions are easier to interpret and apply. Notably, the Commissioner will no longer need to be involved in a number of recruitment-related actions, including the endorsement of SES selection processes. More information on the amendments is available on the Commission’s website.

For further information, please contact Alana Walsh at alana.walsh [at] apsc.gov.au   Hide content

Shared and Common Services Programme

The Secretaries Board agreed in November 2014 that the public sector would drive efficiencies through a consolidation of transactional and other common activities under the Shared and Common Services Programme.
Show more

Our objective is to have a small number of providers delivering services to all agencies, centrally coordinated, to ensure that the benefits of scale are realised in a contestable market.

Key benefits include:

- freeing up resources to redirect to core activities

- better support for Government decision-making

- high quality provision of services

- a more responsive, agile and efficient public sector.

Agencies are currently considering whether they wish to provide or receive services under this model. The Department of Finance is working with agencies to cost existing services to enable informed sourcing decisions. A Whole-of-Government implementation plan will be developed by December 2015 to guide the future direction of the Programme.

For further assistance or to get involved contact Stuart Henry at scs [at] finance.gov.au or (02) 6215 3039.  Hide content

Bargaining update

Agencies continued to progress bargaining for their enterprise agreements.Show more

Three new agreements were made in NBN Co, a non-APS Commonwealth body, while in the APS a new agreement was voted up by Comsuper employees.

These agreements deliver wage increases for employees and improved productivity for the agency. They show what can be achieved when employers and employees work together for a mutually beneficial outcome.

A number of other agencies will shortly commence voting on their new agreements. I urge the staff of those agencies to carefully consider the draft agreements put before them when casting their vote.  Hide content

Learning program calendar

If you are seeking to develop your knowledge, skills or capabilities, there are opportunities to participate in the Commission’s many learning programs between July and December 2015. Show more

The programs are aimed at employees at APS and Executive Level classifications. Members of the Senior Executive Service who are new to the APS may also find these beneficial. The programs focus on a broad range of topics such as communication, project management, stakeholder engagement, policy development, leadership and conflict resolution.

Details of our programs are available at www.apsc.gov.au/learn/training-calendar.  Hide content


  1. A number of significant Machinery of Government changes came into effect on 1 July 2015, reflecting changes on the way Commonwealth responsibilities are managed. This had an impact on 18 agencies and over 6,000 staff.

    The more significant changes include:
    • The Australian Government Solicitor has become part of the Attorney-General’s Department.
    • The Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection service have joined to become the single Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
    • Comsuper has merged with the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation.

    The staffing arrangements for Australian Public Service recruitment, which had been in place from 31 October 2015, were lifted on 1 July 2015. Agency heads no longer need to seek the approval of the Commissioner to notify vacancies in the Public Service Gazette (APSjobs) as open to all eligible members of the community. Agency size will continue to be monitored carefully to ensure staffing levels remain within budget. More information can be found on the Commission’s website.

  1. SES Band 2 Leadership Program
    : Nominations for the SES Band 2 Leadership Program are open. The program is designed to strengthen leadership practice in working across boundaries, driving change and leading others.

    It commences on 1 September 2015. The program runs over 6 months and includes a 4 day residential, two 2 day workshops and 5 learning group sessions. Nominations are being sought by 21 August.

  2. Leadership?don’t limit your aspirations: The event will mark the ANZAC Centenary and pay homage to the leadership of Australian soldiers in conflict and adversity. It will provide four different perspectives on leadership in the APS and the Australian forces by prominent leaders. Wednesday 29 July 2015. Registrations are now open.
  3. Empowering women to lead in the APS: The event will provide a greater understanding about the real leadership opportunities that exist for women from all walks of life and the benefits of gender balance within the diversity spectrum. Wednesday 2 September 2015. Registrations are now open and spots are filling fast.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018