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Circular 2016/1: Commencement of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2016

1. This circular is to advise APS agencies that new Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2016 have been made. The Directions commence on 1 December 2016 and replace the 2013 Commissioner's Directions in their entirety.

2. The new Directions are designed to:

  1. provide greater flexibility in how Agency Heads meet obligations under the Public Service Act 1999 (the Act) by removing red tape,
  2. support greater efficiencies for agencies in managing recruitment activity, and
  3. streamline and simplify content, with the removal of content better provided in guidance material.

3. Further information about the key changes found in the Directions is set out below.

Sharing merit lists between agencies

4. The Directions provide for the sharing of merit lists between agencies in specified circumstances. This change will deliver greater efficiencies to APS agencies in recruitment exercises where potential candidates have already been assessed and found suitable.

5. Specified circumstances are SES vacancies, centrally coordinated entry-level recruitment programs, and by agreement with individual candidates and relevant Agency Heads.

6. Allowing access to other agencies' merit lists is a recommendation in the 2015 Independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation (the Belcher Review).

Increased flexibility to engage temporary employees for up to three years

7. This provision is available where Agency Heads are satisfied non-ongoing employment is the most appropriate form of engagement in the circumstances. The Act specifies that the usual basis for engagement is ongoing.

8. The Directions provide that agencies may engage a person on a non-ongoing basis for up to 18 months without the requirement to undertake a competitive selection process. Agency heads must, as far as practicable, bring the vacancy to the notice of the community. At a minimum, agencies must be satisfied that the person selected has the skills to perform the duties required. Such engagements may be extended to a maximum period of three years where certain criteria are met.

9. The requirements for non-ongoing engagements under Regulations 3.4 and 3.5 of the Public Service Regulations 1999 describing limitations to specified term and specified task engagement continue to apply.

Broader Indigenous affirmative measure

10. The Indigenous affirmative measure has been expanded to include selection of persons for short-term non-ongoing engagements, without being required to notify the vacancy in the Public Service Gazette.

Broader disability affirmative measure

11. The Directions contain a broad affirmative measure to support the engagement of persons with disability.

12. Agencies can apply this measure to the selection of persons with disability, or a particular type of disability, for both ongoing and non-ongoing processes.

13. This affirmative measure also applies to the engagement or promotion of a person assessed as not able to compete on merit, in consultation with a disability employment service provider.

Notifying decisions in the Public Service Gazette

14. Agencies face unnecessary red tape in notifying employment decisions in the Public Service Gazette. The Directions reduce the administrative burden by removing the obligation to notify certain outcomes.

15. Decisions relating to reviewable promotion decisions, Independent Selection Advisory Committee (ISAC) recommendations and termination of employment following Code of Conduct breach will continue to be notified.

16. The approval of the Commissioner will no longer be required where agencies wish to withhold an employee's name from the Gazette in order to protect a person's identity.

Streamlined performance management requirements

17. The Directions contain streamlined instructions on how Agency Heads will meet their obligation under the Act to require effective performance from each employee.

18. The previous level of detail on performance management was inconsistent with the red tape reduction agenda.

19. Agency Heads have greater discretion to determine the performance management framework appropriate to their agency.

Merit-based selection processes

20. The Directions no longer duplicate requirements set out elsewhere in legislation for achieving merit in engagement and promotion decisions.

21. The streamlined content does not diminish the obligations for merit-based selection.

Further information

22. Detailed advice on the operation of the new Directions will be available on the Commission's website shortly.

23. Information on the Directions can be obtained from the Commission's Staffing Policy team on 02 6202 3857 or by email to staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au.

Caroline Walsh
Group Manager, Employment Policy
Australian Public Service Commission
14 September 2016

Last reviewed: 
24 May 2018