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Australian Public Service Commission Corporate plan: 2015-19

Please note - this is an archived version. The most recent version can be found here.


  • letter of transmittal
  • our purpose, visions and goals
  • environment
  • capabilities
  • our guiding principles
  • risks
  • key activities and measures

Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz
Minister for Employment
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Parliament House

Dear Minister

I, as the accountable authority of the Australian Public Service Commission, present the APSC Corporate Plan 2015-19, as required under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance,
Performance and Accountability Act 2013

This plan which covers the period 2015-19, sets out our purpose, our significant activities, operating environment, planned performance, capability and risk oversight and management.

I will report on this plan through my Annual report 2015-16.

Yours sincerely

John Lloyd PSM

28 August 2015



We are creating a high performing APS that delivers quality outcomes for Government, business and the community. We also want to improve our clients' experience of working with us.

To achieve these aims, we are transforming ourselves and the way we do business.

We exist in an environment that is rapidly changing. Society and government are becoming more complex. Increasingly, we are expected to seek out opportunities to improve productivity and efficiency and to reduce regulation.

We have the chance to make genuine and enduring changes to the way the APS operates. This plan delivers our blueprint for doing so.


To create a flexible, efficient and high performing APS that delivers quality outcomes for Government, business and
the community.


  • Build capability
  • Drive productivity and performance
  • Streamline process and reduce red tape
  • Promote integrity and accountability


About the APSC

The Australian Public Service Commission is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity within the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio.

Our Statutory responsibilities are detailed in the Public Service Act 1999 and include to:

  • develop, promote, review and evaluate APS employment policies and practices
  • facilitate continuous improvement in people management throughout the APS
  • contribute to learning and development and career management
  • contribute to and foster leadership in the APS
  • provide advice and assistance on public service matters to entities
  • promote high standards of integrity and conduct in the APS.

The APSC also provides resources to support the Merit Protection Commissioner.

We operate under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

We employ around 200 staff, and have offices in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.


The APSC is expected to deliver on commitments to government. We will work with other entities to implement APS reform.

Fiscal Environment

We operate in a tight fiscal environment. The APSC receives approximately 50% of its resources through government appropriation and the remaining 50% through the sale of goods and services to other government entities.

Reducing Red-Tape

We have commenced a red-tape reduction project. This project addresses ways to remove or reduce internal red tape and the means of reducing the compliance burden we place on entities.

Transformation of the APSC

On 1 July 2015 we implemented a new structure. We have also developed principles to guide the way we work and identified a new culture to support our transformation.


Our People

We will develop the capabilities of staff in three key areas that are critical to delivering outcomes and providing an improved client experience:


Analytical skills

  • Able to seek out data, information & feedback to understand:
    • How things are (now)
    • How things might be (future)
  • Questioning and inquiry skills
  • Curiosity


  • Lateral thinking
  • Design skills—able to create something new that:
    • extracts the best from the past
    • connects to fresh approaches
    • moves things forward


Business acumen

  • Attuned to the broader APS and agency environment
  • Focussed on adding value
  • Able to find ways to do things more efficiently and productively

Engagement with uncertainty/risk

  • Willing to experiment, try new approaches and learn by doing
  • Can assess and manage risk as a business enabler



  • Able to identify the different types of relationships required for different situations
  • Can listen and ask questions to understand the perspectives and needs of others


  • Can explain concepts and ideas:
    • simply
    • concisely
    • accurately
    • coherently

Our ICT and Capital Investment

We will develop an ICT strategic plan that ensures investment and effort enables improved business outcomes.

The design and development of business systems will focus on client user requirements, and will maximise the
benefits of digital technologies.

Our guiding principles

the client experience

Three principles will guide the way we work with others to achieve the goal of a contemporary and highly effective APS that delivers quality outcomes for Government, business and the community.

In working with clients and partners, we will:

Principle 1:
Add Value

  • Professional
  • Influential
  • Entrepreneurial
  • We contribute expertise, contemporary thinking and whole of APS insights to shape the agenda for the future.
  • We identify opportunities for making progress in areas of importance for the APS and try new approaches.

Principle 2:
Stay the Distance

  • Outcome-driven
  • Flexible
  • We go beyond ideas to design practical initiatives and solutions.
  • We actively support implementation, knowing this is critical to achieving real outcomes
    for the APS.
  • We adapt and adopt as we go, learning from our experiences and using this to improve the way things are done.

Principle 3:
Partner Effectively

  • Respectful
  • Open-minded
  • Business-like
  • We bring people and ideas together to generate better solutions.
  • We co-create and co-design for optimum quality.
  • We look for ways to tailor common solutions so that they are fit-for-purpose and suitable for a client's context.


The Commission's approach to risk management is designed to assist in the management of our financial, environmental and social responsibilities.

It ensures the oversight, management and control of risks, and is integrated into all business activities and systems.

It meets our obligations under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Regular monitoring and reporting is provided to the Audit and Risk Management Committee and the Commission's Executive Committee.

Risks are detailed in group business plans and are summarised in the Commission's risk register.

Strategic risks

  • Meeting client needs—ensuring we bring together people and ideas to generate better solutions.
  • Reduction in current funding levels—ensuring we make best use of resources, and identify opportunities to influence and demonstrate good value to clients.
  • Staff Capability—ensure we invest in developing internal capability and managing succession through workforce planning.

Key activities and measures

Modernising the APS employment framework.

Measures of success

We will progressively bring forward proposals to modernise the framework. This will include most aspects of the employment relationship, including recruitment, mobility, performance management and separations. 

We will complete a major simplification of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions by June 2016.

Driving APS employment reform through workforce management contestability.

Measures of success

We will deliver a Contestability Review Report by November 2015, to support the move to a modern and flexible employment framework that is more in line with community standards.

Following the recommendations of the Review, we will implement the employment reform commencing March 2016, to be completed by March 2017.

Working with Commonwealth employers to improve workplace relations outcomes.

Measures of success

We will partner with entities to conclude the enterprise agreement round by March 2016.

We will introduce a program during late 2016 to enhance the bargaining and workplace relations capability of entity staff.

We will review our engagement strategies to provide practical guidance to entities on policy and contemporary issues in a timely manner.

We will coordinate the streamlining of non-APS modern awards, including oversight of proceedings before the Fair Work Commission.

We will develop a policy framework to support the next round of bargaining by March 2017.

Improving the capability of the APS through leadership and core skills development.

Measures of success

We will offer a comprehensive suite of APS Executive Level and Senior Executive Service leadership programs for APS entities. 

We will develop core skills programs for APS use, with ten programs to be released during 2015-16.

Benchmarks measuring the quality and effectiveness of new programs will be established in 2015-16, with continuous refinement in future years.

We will provide APS entities with quality advice and brokerage services in relation to external leadership development options.

Driving a more systematic approach to talent management to better position the APS for the future.  

Measures of success

We will take a more systematic approach to the development and deployment of the senior levels of the SES.

We will establish a pilot Band 1 talent pool by January 2016.

We will provide a range of fit-for-purpose talent development options including leadership programs, secondments and academic studies on an ongoing basis. 

Benchmarks measuring the usefulness of our services will be established in 2015-16, with continuous refinement in future years.

We will support entities with the implementation of the APS Talent Guide and Toolkit.

Providing high quality analysis and reports on APS employment trends

Measures of success

We will assist entities meet their workforce goals through providing comprehensive analysis of workforce trends in the annual State of the Service report.

We will support entities with workforce planning through the production of the statistical bulletins biannually, and through the publication of ongoing research and analysis pieces.

We will use our extensive employee databases to assist the APS plan for the future workforce and manage its current workforce.

Driving high performance across the APS through better employee performance management.

Measures of success

We will partner with entities and industry experts to deliver contemporary and fit for purpose best practice models by March 2016.

We will develop performance management guides for HR practitioners and managers by June 2016.

Driving a reduction in APS unscheduled absence.

Measures of success

We will develop a policy framework to support agencies to reduce unscheduled absence by March 2016.

We will use innovative methods that have been shown to be successful in the private sector to reduce absenteeism.

Implementing the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy

Measures of success

We will actively assist entities to meet the Government's target for Indigenous representation of 3% by 2018.

We are introducing a dynamic guide for entities, conveying best practices for employing Indigenous people. The guide will continue to be updated throughout 2016.

Providing leadership to the Australian Public Service on Integrity

Measures of success

We will support the Integrity Agencies Group to ensure that integrity is embedded in entities. This will include identifying gaps in existing arrangements for dealing with integrity risks.

We will develop practical tools to help managers identify and deal with behaviours that raise risks to integrity by June 2016.

Providing professional and high quality policy and secretariat support to the Remuneration Tribunal and the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal in order for them to meet their statutory obligations.

Measure of success

We will measure the quality of our services based on formal feedback from the President of each Tribunal.

Strengthening international cooperation and partnerships in the Asia Pacific Region.

Measure of success

We will undertake activities to build public administration capacity and strengthen the capability of public servants in the Asia Pacific Region.

Last reviewed: 
1 November 2019