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Capability review: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry


The 2010 report Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration recommended that the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) undertake regular and systemic reviews to promote improved capability in the key agencies and to assess the institutional capability of the service as a whole.

The methodology used by the APSC to conduct these reviews drew significantly on the United Kingdom Capability Review Programme. Through the knowledge gained from the first tranche of reviews, the United Kingdom methodology has been gradually refined to reflect more closely the Australian context in which the review program is being conducted. I thank the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for the positive approach adopted towards the review. Both the former Secretary, Dr Conall O’Connell, and the new Secretary, Mr Andrew Metcalfe AO, who started in his new role mid-way through the review, were highly supportive of the exercise and members of the department’s Senior Executive Service were equally generous with their time.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr Sue Vardon AO, the chair of the senior review team, and the other senior members of the team, Dr John Stocker AO and Dr David Gruen. Once again, this review has shown the merits of bringing together a team of such high calibre and diversity of experience. The senior review team was very complimentary of the quality of the staff from the APSC and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Steve Sedgwick AO
Australian Public Service Commission

1 About the review

A capability review is a forward-looking, whole-of-agency review that assesses an agency’s ability to meet future objectives and challenges.

This review focuses on leadership, strategy and delivery capabilities in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). It highlights the department’s internal management strengths and weaknesses using the model set out in Figure 1. A set of 39 questions is used to guide the assessment of each of the 10 elements of the model. Those assessments are included in Section 4 of this report.

Capability reviews are designed to be relatively short and sharp and to take a high-level view of the strategic operations. They focus primarily on its senior leadership, but are informed by the views of its middle management, who attend a series of workshops.

External stakeholders are also interviewed, including relevant ministers, private sector companies, state delivery organisations, peak bodies, interest groups, citizens, clients and central agencies.

The fieldwork for the capability review of DAFF was undertaken between 12 November 2012
and 8 March 2013.

Figure 1 – Model of capability

Last reviewed: 
22 May 2018