2019 APS agency survey

The 2019 APS agency survey, conducted from 24 June to 9 August 2019, collected human resources data and workforce metrics from APS agencies with more than 20 APS employees.

2019 APS employee census

The 2019 APS employee census conducted from 6 May to 7 June 2019 collected information on attitudes and opinions of APS employees.

Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration

This report was presented to the Australian Government in March 2010 and seeks to reform government administration through suggested improvements to services, programs and policies.

APS agency

An APS agency operates under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth). This includes departments, statutory agencies and executive agencies. APS agencies are a subset of Commonwealth agencies. A list of APS agencies is available at

APS employee

An APS employee is an employee engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth). Contractors are not considered employees.

APS Values

The APS Values are set out in Section 10 of the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth). The APS Values articulate the Parliament's expectations of public servants in terms of their performance and standards of behaviour. The values are: impartial, committed to service, accountable, respectful and ethical.


The Australian Public Service Employment Database (APSED) stores the employment data of all current and former APS employees. It is maintained by the Australian Public Service Commission and the data is supplied to APSED from the human resources systems of APS agencies.

Capability Review Program

The Capability Review Program is a program of forward looking, whole-of-agency reviews that assessed the capability of agencies to meet future objectives and challenges. The reviews were conducted by the APSC between 2012 and 2015 and focused on leadership, strategy and delivery capabilities.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct is set out in Section 13 of the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth). It defines how APS employees are expected to act, for example, employees should behave honestly and with integrity, and employees should use Commonwealth resources in a proper manner and for proper purpose.

Commissioner’s Directions

The Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2016 are made under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth) and reflect recent reviews in public administration. The directions prescribe standards with which agency heads and APS employees must comply to meet their obligations under the Act. In 2019, the Commissioner updated parts of the directions.

Commonwealth agency

Commonwealth agencies include all agencies under the Commonwealth of Australia, including those not covered under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth).

Coombs Royal Commission

The Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration, led by Herbert Coombs, released its final report in 1976. Many of its recommendations were implemented and it created large-scale transformation of the APS.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is the extent to which employees are motivated, inspired and enabled to improve an organisation’s outcomes. It is the emotional connection and commitment employees have to working for their organisation.

Employment Principles

The APS Employment Principles are set out in Section 10A in the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth). These principles define how the APS should act as an employer, for example, engagement and promotion should happen as a result of merit and the workplace should be free from discrimination.


An engagement refers to the engagement or re-engagement of staff under Section 22 of the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth). Employees of agencies moving into coverage of the Act are counted as engagements.

Independent Review of the APS

In 2018, the then Prime Minister commissioned an independent review of the APS. It was led by David Thodey AO. An interim report was released in March 2019, entitled Priorities for Change. The Australian Government was presented with a final report in September 2019. At the time of writing the 2018–19 State of the Service Report, the Independent Review of the APS’s final report has not been made public.

Learning from Failure: Why large government policy initiatives have gone so badly wrong in the past and how the chances of success in the future can be improved

Written by former Australian Public Service Commissioner, Peter Shergold, this report examines how the government can learn from past failures and methods to reduce risk while still being innovative.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex +. The ‘+’ is used after the acronym ‘LGBTI’ to include people who identify having diverse sexualities and genders but who do not fit into categories defined by ‘LGBTI’. A longer acronym that defines more groups is available at


A measure of central tendency, found by arranging values in order and then selecting the one in the middle.


Non-ongoing employment is a generic term which refers to the engagement of APS employees for either a specified term or for the duration of a specified task or for duties that are irregular or intermittent as mentioned in sections 22(2)(b) and (c) of the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth).

Older worker

An employee aged 50 years or older. This classification, as recommended by the Australian Human Rights Commission, acknowledges that Australians can work as long as they want. This is aligned with the practices of other industrialised nations.


The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development is an international organisation founded in 1961. It aims to find evidence-based solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges. 


Ongoing employment refers to the employment of an APS employee as an ongoing employee as mentioned in Section 22(2) (a) of the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth).

Priorities for Change

Priorities for Change is the interim report published by the Independent Review of the APS in March 2019.

Roadmap for reform

The Government’s roadmap for reform, as outlined in the 2018–19 Budget Paper No. 4.

Secretaries Board

The Secretaries Board was established by the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth) to set the direction for the APS, drive collaboration and draw together advice from senior government leaders, business and the community. It is made up of secretaries from each APS department and the Australian Public Service Commissioner. Currently the Director-General of the Office of National Intelligence also sits on the board.


A separation occurs when an employee ceases to be employed under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cwlth). It does not refer to employees moving from one APS agency to another.