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Circular 2009/1: Revised edition of Merit and transparency policy and guidelines

The purpose of this circular is to advise agencies that a revised edition of the policy and guidelines Merit and Transparency: Merit-based selection of APS agency heads and APS statutory office holders is now available on the Commission’s website. 

2. Merit and Transparency was originally released in February 2008 following the introduction of the Government’s policy implementing transparent and merit-based assessment in the selection of most Australian Public Service (APS) agency heads and other statutory office holders working in, or in conjunction with, APS agencies.

3. The revisions to the document mainly clarify existing wording, however, the following new guidance has been added:

  • the Public Service Commissioner (Commissioner) or her representative is a full member of the assessment panel and therefore needs to be involved in all aspects of the selection exercise including shortlisting of applicants—sufficient time must be allowed for this to occur
  • any costs associated with the role of the Commissioner or her representative (such as travel, accommodation etc) will generally be borne by the relevant agency
  • where executive search firms are used, all assessment panel members must be kept informed of all aspects of the process
  • all members of the assessment panel, including the Secretary and Commissioner (or their representatives) must participate in the shortlisting of applicants
  • the Commissioner should be advised of final outcomes such as the finalisation of the appointment by Cabinet and the commencement date of any new appointee
  • where the Minister endorses an order of merit or shortlist of candidates, he or she may decide to use the list to recommend appointments to identical vacancies (for example where there are multiple members of a Tribunal)—this does not apply to agency head vacancies
  • for Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 bodies, the Finance Minister may make a General Policy Order requiring them to comply with a general policy of Government.

4. The list of positions covered by this policy, and specific offices that are excluded, is updated on an ongoing basis and located on the Commission’s website

Further information

5. Agencies can obtain further information on the matters raised in this circular by contacting the Policy Group by phone on (02) 6202 3814 or e-mail to agencyheadselection [at] apsc.gov.au.


Karen Wilson
Group Manager
Policy Group

12 February 2009

Last reviewed: 
31 May 2018