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Circular 2015/5: Implementation of Machinery of Government changes


  1. This circular highlights the key issues that an agency should consider when implementing Machinery of Government (MoG) changes with a view to the delivery of fast and efficient outcomes.
  2. More detailed information is available in the joint Australian Public Service Commission (Commission) and Department of Finance (Finance) guide Implementing Machinery of Government Changes.


  1. To support the Government's priorities, MoG changes should be implemented as quickly as possible. They should focus on achieving the best outcomes for the Australian community across the whole-of-government.
  2. The Government expects MoG changes to be implemented cooperatively and in a timely manner. The agency heads involved are responsible for meeting any deadlines set for the MoG change.
  3. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), the Australian Public Service Commission (Commission) and the Department of Finance (Finance) will set milestones, as appropriate, to assist agencies with their planning.
  4. Leaders involved in implementing a MoG change should adopt a risk management approach and avoid letting relatively minor issues delay the resolution of the major areas of negotiation.
  5. Agencies are encouraged to consider appointing an external third party as an independent facilitator to manage the MoG process and arbitrate on issues that require resolution.
  6. Agencies should conduct an immediate and thorough due diligence exercise to identify complex issues early.
  7. Agencies should share all relevant information to inform the due diligence process. Finance may share with affected agencies relevant data from the Central Budget Management System.

Dispute resolution

  1. PM&C, Finance and the Commission must be advised of any delays in finalising negotiations. In particular, they must be advised if the designated timeframes may not be met.
  2. Finance and the Commission will, if required, manage milestones and assist in mediating between affected entities as part of the dispute resolution process.
  3. Where agencies experience difficulty in resolving differences, it is expected that agency heads and Secretaries of the respective portfolio departments will become directly involved.
  4. Where agreement on the final allocation of resources cannot be reached within the required timeframe, then the matter must be escalated to a committee comprising the Secretaries of Finance and PM&C and the Australian Public Service Commissioner, with the Secretary of PM&C chairing discussions. This committee will arbitrate as required.
  5. In circumstances where issues remain unresolved it is open to Finance to transfer funds and the Australian Public Service Commissioner to transfer staff, if necessary, without the agreement of agencies.


  1. Senior leaders and their agencies must implement MoG changes consistent with the following principles:
    1. Taking a whole-of-government approach across agencies
      • Good faith negotiations
      • Open and honest identification of resource implications
      • Timely and accurate exchange of information.
    2. Constructive and open communication with staff
    • Provide early advice and assistance to staff
    • Consult—employees have opportunities to contribute to the implementation process within the boundaries of the decision/s taken by Government
    • Act with integrity.
  2. Accountability and compliance with legislation and policy
    • Follow established procedural frameworks, such as the 'staff follow function' and 'finances follow function' principles whilst taking account of reforms such as shared services
    • Ensure adequate records management.

Guidance for practitioners

  1. Information for practitioners on implementing a MoG change is available at Implementing Machinery of Government Changes (September 2015). The document is currently under review and will be published as a more user friendly, concise and easy to read resource.

Further information

  1. Further information about:
    • financial management is available from Finance's Annual Appropriations team at AnnualAppropriations [at] finance.gov.au.
    • people management is available from the Commission's Staffing Policy team at staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au.

Karin Fisher
Group Manager
Employment Policy Group
Australian Public Service Commission
21 September 2015

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018