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Capability review: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


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 has been gradually refined to more closely reflect the Australian context in which the review program is being conducted.

On the occasion of this review, I would like to thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for its professional and enthusiastic participation in the review. In particular, I thank the department's staff for their openness and engagement throughout the process. There is a clear desire to help
build on their agency's capability.

I would also like to thank Mr Allan Gyngell AO, the chair of the review team, the other senior members of the team, Ms Helen Williams AO and Mr Ben Rimmer, and my own team from the APSC who support and advise them. Once again, this review has demonstrated the advantages of bringing together a team
of this calibre.

Steve Sedgwick


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 Foreign Affair and Trade (DFAT). It highlights the department's internal management strengths and improvement opportunities 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 take a high-level view of the operations of the department. They focus primarily on an agency's senior leadership, but are informed by the views of middle management who attend a series of workshops.

External stakeholders are also interviewed, including ministers, Australian Government central agencies, private sector companies, interest groups and clients.

The fieldwork for the capability review of DFAT was undertaken between 1 April 2013 and 14 June 2013.

Figure 1 – Model of capability

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018