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Commission Advice 2013/01: Amendments to the Public Service Act 1999 and Public Service Regulations 1999. Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013

Please note - this is an archived circular.


The Public Service Amendment Act 2013 (the Amendment Act) made significant changes to the Public Service Act 1999 (the Act). As a consequence the Public Service Regulations 1999 have been amended and the Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 1999 repealed and replaced with the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2013 (the Directions).

The Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) is developing a series of ‘Advices’ to assist Australian Public Service (APS) agencies implement the changes in the amended legislation and the new Directions. The Advices will be available on the Circulars and advices page of the Commission’s website.

This Advice provides an overview of the changes and lists other Advices in the series. Advices will be developed and released as soon as possible, though not necessarily consecutively.

The commencement date for the amended Act, amended Regulations and the Directions is 1 July 2013. The changes will become part of Commonwealth law on that date. Agencies will need to take action to prepare for these changes before the commencement date.

Why are these changes being made?

The amendments give effect to recommendations in Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the reform of Australian Government Administration (the Blueprint), a report published in March 2010 by the Advisory Group on Reform of Australian Government Administration, and make a range of operational amendments to improve the operation of the Act, including addressing matters that have arisen since the last major change in 1999.

The amendments give legislative form to the new institutional structures and cultural and behavioural expectations that the Blueprint outlined for the APS.

What changes are being made?

The changes are summarised in the attachment and described in the following Advices:

  1. Overview
  2. Secretaries and Secretaries Board
  3. SES roles and employment matters
  4. APS Values, Employment Principles and revisions to the Code of Conduct
  5. Australian Public Service Commissioner’s functions (including appointment of Special Commissioners)
  6. Merit Protection Commissioner's functions
  7. Handling misconduct (section 15(3) and sanction procedures)
  8. APS Whistleblowing
  9. Recruitment and selection
  10. Independent Selection Advisory Committees (ISACs)
  11. Performance management
  12. Diversity
  13. Review of actions
  14. Use and disclosure of employee information
  15. Statutory officer holders and the APS Code of Conduct
  16. Other employment matters

What do agencies need to do?

Agencies should read each Advice for information on actions that need to be put in place before and after the commencement date of 1 July 2013.


Agencies will need to review their delegations in light of the amendments and new Directions.

The Commission will release updated guidance on delegations well before the commencement date. The updated guidance will be available on the APS employment policy and advice pages of the Commission’s website.

Transitional arrangements

Transitional arrangements vary for each of the changes. Information on whether and what transitional arrangements are required is included in each Advice.

Further information

The Amendment Act, the Public Service Amendment Regulation 2013 and the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions 2013 are available on the Comlaw website.

Enquiries from agencies’ corporate services staff can be made by email at PSAmendmentAct2013 [at] apsc.gov.au or by telephone on 02 6202 3737.

APS employees who have queries about how the changes will affect them should please contact the HR area in their agency.

Karin Fisher
Group Manager, Ethics
Australian Public Service Commission
April 2013


Main changes – At a glance
Public Service Act Public Service Regulations Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions
Amended Amended Repealed and re-made
  • Revised arrangements for APS leadership
    • reforms to the appointment and termination arrangements for Secretaries,
    • Secretaries roles and responsibilities
    • Role of Secretaries Board
    • revised role for the SES
  • Revised APS Values and the introduction of a set of Employment Principles
  • Role of the Australian Public Service Commissioner
    • Capacity for systems reviews, special reviews
    • Special Commissioners
  • APS Code of Conduct
  • Handling of misconduct, including to the Merit Protection Commissioner's review functions
  • APS whistleblowing
  • Use and disclosure of employee information
  • Miscellaneous
  • Transitional
  • Statutory office holders and the Code of Conduct
  • APS Whistleblowing
  • Medical examinations/fitness for duty
  • Non-ongoing employment
  • ISAC processes
  • Promotion review
  • Review of actions
  • Agency head misconduct
  • Procedural requirements for misconduct investigations by the Commissioners
  • Machinery of government
  • Use and disclosure of employee information
  • Miscellaneous
  • Transitional
  1. APS Values
  2. Recruitment and Selection
    • Merit Principle
    • Engagement and promotion – standard provisions
    • Exceptions to standard provisions
    • Assignment of duties and moves between agencies
    • Gazettal of promotions and taking effect
  3. Workplace diversity
  4. Performance management
  5. Safe work places
  6. Agency head handling of suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct
  7. Other employment matters
    • Restrictions on engaging redundancy benefit recipients
    • Termination of employment: non-ongoing APS employees
    • Incentive to retire- SES
    • Leave without pay for specified purpose
    • Transitional (PM’s Directions)
  8. Delegations

Schedule 1: Re-engagement of election candidates

Schedule 2: Comparison with Parliamentary Service classifications

Last reviewed: 
9 July 2018