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

Welcome to our November newsletter. This month we include updates on the workplace bargaining policy and current initiatives in relation to promoting APS-wide integrity and workforce management reform. We also bring you information about a new AHRI initiative to professionalise human resources, our APS talent management guide and advice as we approach our end-of-year work functions. Our annual report is now available online and we look ahead to the tabling of the State of the Service report.

Release of the Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015

On 2 November 2015, the Commission released the Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015 following changes announced by the Government on 21 October 2015. The new policy allows agencies to offer remuneration increases of up to an average of 2 per cent per annum where an Agency Head is able to certify to the Commissioner that the increases are affordable and underpinned by productivity. There is a new streamlined approval process, to allow proposals to progress more quickly

The policy is designed to support more flexible public sector workplaces, and operates alongside other reform programs already underway across the APS.

The revised policy should assist agencies and their employees to conclude negotiations and get on with business. The Commission will be working with agencies to ensure all approvals under the new policy are progressed as quickly as possible.

Human resources professionalisation

Strategic human resources (HR) capability is critical to the successful pursuit of long-term APS reform. The Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) is piloting an 18-month Practising Certification Program that aims to build the strategic HR capability of 27 participants. These participants have been identified by their agencies as potential future leaders of HR.

The Commissioner will engage with the participants at the next session. He will discuss the priorities for the APS as it becomes more productive and able to deliver on the issues that matter most to both government and citizens. Many of these priorities will present opportunities for HR to make an important contribution.

The AHRI program employs an action-based learning approach whereby new knowledge and skills are applied in the workplace. The areas of capability covered are equally applicable to organisations in both private and public sectors. In time, it is hoped that the careers of the program participants are further enhanced through secondments outside the APS.

The Commissioner is firmly behind this initiative: ‘In my view, its is just as important to know that those providing advice on talent, change and performance management know what they are doing, as it is for the finance profession. Certifying HR skills is, therefore, necessary.’

For further information, contact Ian Fitzgerald, Chief Human Capital Officer at ian.fitzgerald [at] apsc.gov.au (Ian Fitzgerald) 

A culture of integrity

We are rightly proud of the integrity of our APS, and the reputation it enjoys both domestically and internationally. To ensure we maintain a strong focus in this area in the face of increasing risk and complexity, the Commission has recently reinvigorated the Integrity Agencies Group.

Made up of the heads of relevant policy and law enforcement agencies, the group seeks to coordinate policies and activities across the APS, and to share insights and experience. We know that there are intrinsic links between culture, leadership and behaviour, and that a tolerance of low-level indiscretions or general misconduct can influence an organisation’s overall integrity risk profile.

To help address this risk, and to support the work of the Attorney-General’s Department on risk identification, the Commission is developing a toolkit aimed specifically at managers in the APS.

The Commission’s toolkit, due to be released in 2016, will provide managers with a framework for assessing integrity risks and guidance on how to address them through the use of case studies.

The Commission welcomes any comments from agencies that may help shape the material in the toolkit. For further information, please contact Paul Casimir on (02) 6202 3578 or by email: paul.casimir [at] apsc.gov.au (Paul Casimir ) 

‘Skunkworks’ on workforce management reform

Deputy Secretaries have come together in a series of 'skunkworks'*, or experimental groups, to generate some fresh thinking in the way we manage our workforce. They have given themselves permission to try new things and to apply agile approaches, including the concept of failing fast and adapting.

Ideas being explored include:

- a focus on the individual and what they bring to a job, with less emphasis on hierarchy and classification
- making recruitment faster, simpler and more accessible to all
- matching employment contracts to the work that needs to be done
- driving mobility for professional development
- accessing skills and experience from the outside, for the short or longer term
- focusing on optimising high performance, not just managing underperformance.

* A skunkwork project is undertaken by a small group of people who research and develop a project to effect radical innovation and change.

For further information, please contact Lucy Poole at lucy.poole [at] apsc.gov.au (Lucy Poole) 

Talent management in the APS

We have been pleased with the positive response from agencies to the recently released APS Talent Management Guide and Toolkit.

The guide is designed to assist agencies in implementing a more systematic approach to talent management, linked to broader APS workforce planning and succession management. It includes guidance and support material on talent attraction and identification, development, engagement and deployment.

A talent management practice group has now been established for agency HR practitioners. If you are interested in joining, please contact kate.jacey [at] apsc.gov.au (Kate Jacey )  

State of the Service report

On 25 August 2015, we commenced short weekly content updates on the State of the Service website—we are now in the final stages of our publication schedule, with 15 content updates already posted. The 2014-15 State of the Service report will be tabled in Parliament on Monday 30 November 2015.

Be sure to check out the already published articles that will form the final report’s evidence base. Recent posts include:

- Young employees in the APS
- Representation of Indigenous employees in the APS
- Digital transformation in the APS
- Integrity and Code of Conduct

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Annual report

Our annual report for 2014-15 is now available online.

End of year functions

Work-related end-of-year functions are a time for colleagues to come together and celebrate the festive season. This can be an enjoyable time when people can relax and reflect on the passing year. Show more

In keeping with the spirit of happiness and good will, APS employees are reminded to exercise care and good judgement as some elements of the APS Code of Conduct apply to activities ‘in connection with’ APS employment. This could include behaviour at work-sponsored parties or after party events. For example, employees are encouraged to be mindful of:

- acting in a manner that will compromise their reputation, as well as that of their agency and the APS in general
- engaging in inappropriate behaviour, such as party pranks, which can potentially lead to the injury of others
- buying ‘Secret Santa’ gifts on the assumption that everyone shares the same sense of humour
- taking photos or videos of colleagues that may cause embarrassment when circulated through social media.

For further information, contact the Ethics Advisory Service on (02) 6202 3737 or by email: ethics [at] apsc.gov.au  Hide content


  • Cooperation MOU with Singapore

    The Commission recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Public Service Division of the Singapore Public Service.

    The MOU encourages cooperation and sharing of best practice in areas of common interest between both public services. The objective is to provide a framework for a broad range of collaborative activities that will strengthen the Australia-Singapore partnership.

    These activities can be in any field of government. They will include: exchange programs, short-term study visits and participation in respective learning and development programs. Funding arrangements will be determined by the participating government agencies.

    The Commission’s role will be to report on activities across the APS that meet the broad objective of the MOU. Agencies that already participate in such activities with a Singaporean government agency are invited to provide a brief overview of their program to: international [at] apsc.gov.au (.)

  • Graduate Event
    Candid Reflections from Inspiring APS Leaders
    Thursday 26 November 2015, 9:00am – 11:30am, Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden
    Candid Reflections is a panel-style interview event providing APS graduates the opportunity to hear four inspirational Senior Executive Service (SES) leaders recount their experiences on their journey from graduate to SES. The event will be facilitated by Australian journalist and television presenter Virginia Haussegger AM.
    Register now at Graduate Event Registration or call APS Events on (02) 6202 3916.
  • APS Wide Event?open to all APS
    The year in review: Building a high performing APS
    Thursday, 3 December 2015, 10.00am – 11:30am, Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden.
    This event will provide APS employees the opportunity to engage with four high-profile public sector leaders, Mr Michael Thawley AO, Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; The Hon John Lloyd, Australian Public Service Commissioner; Ms Glenys Beauchamp, Secretary,Department of Industry; and Mr John Fraser, Secretary, The Treasury. It will be facilitated by Greg Sheridan (foreign affairs journalist and commentator). Discussion will focus on the year’s key achievements of the Australian Public Service and future challenges.
    Register now at APS Wide Event Registration or call APS Events on (02) 6202 3916.

Last reviewed: 
7 June 2018