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Machinery of Government (MoG) changes: A guide

Executive summary

The Government expects Machinery of Government (MoG) changes to be implemented as quickly as possible to support the Government’s priorities, with a focus on achieving the best outcomes for the Australian community across the whole of government. 


  1. The Government expects MoG changes to be implemented cooperatively and in a timely manner.
  2. The Prime Minister may specify a date by which a MoG change is to be completed (the completion date). However, if the Prime Minister does not specify a completion date, agencies are expected to complete MoG changes within thirteen weeks from the date of effect of the MoG change.
  3. Agency heads involved in the MoG change are responsible for meeting this deadline and for implementing MoG changes in accordance with the principles outlined in this guide and other relevant guidance.
  4. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), the Department of Finance (Finance) and the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) will set milestones within the completion date, as appropriate, to assist agencies with their planning.
  5. Agencies are responsible for managing the completion of MoG changes and for negotiating and resolving contested issues.
  6. Agencies are encouraged to appoint an independent advisor to manage the MoG process, facilitate negotiations and to help resolve contested issues. An independent advisor must be appointed if milestones are not being met.
  7. It is good practice to complete a thorough due diligence exercise within the first five to ten days to identify complex or contested issues early. As soon as it is apparent that a MoG is complex or contested, an independent advisor should be appointed to identify potentially contentious issues and mediate a resolution.
  8. The sharing of all relevant information between agencies to inform negotiations and the due diligence process is paramount to a speedy MoG change.
  9. A risk management approach will be required to avoid letting relatively minor issues delay negotiations.

Dispute resolution

  1. It is expected that agency heads and Secretaries of the respective portfolio departments will step in to reach a decision where agencies cannot resolve a matter at the working level.
  2. Agencies must advise PM&C, Finance and the APSC of any delays in finalising negotiations and if the completion date may not be met. If appropriate, Finance and the APSC may adjust milestones and may assist the appointed independent advisor to mediate between the affected agencies.
  3. If a matter remains unresolved and meeting the completion date looks in doubt, a recommended position by the independent advisor on the matter must be escalated to a committee chaired by the Secretary of PM&C and comprising the Secretary of Finance and the Australian Public Service Commissioner (the Commissioner).
  4. Affected agencies will be informed of the protocols for taking matters to the Committee once it is clear that escalation is likely.
  5. If necessary, Finance may transfer funds and the Commissioner may transfer staff without the agreement of agencies.


  1. The following principles apply to implementing MoG changes.

Taking a whole-of-government approach:

  • timely and accurate exchange of information.
  • open and honest identification of resource implications
  • good faith negotiations

Constructive and open communication with staff:

  • early advice and assistance to staff
  • consultation—employees have opportunities to contribute to the implementation process within the boundaries of Government decisions
  • acting with integrity.

Accountability and compliance with legislation and policy:

  • ensure adequate records management
  • follow established procedural frameworks, such as the ‘staff follow function’; ‘finances follow function’; and ‘obligations follow function’ while taking account of reforms such as shared services.
  1. These principles apply to MoG changes irrespective of any historical budget decisions. Staff and annual appropriations devoted to a function at the point of the MoG change are transferred to the gaining agency. Gaining agencies are to accept the obligations connected with the staff and annual appropriations transferred.

Defined terms

  1. Agency/Entity—has the same meaning as corporate Commonwealth entity (CCE) and non-corporate Commonwealth entity (NCE) within the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

More information

  1. More information about:
    • the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework is available from Finance at pmra [at] finance.gov.au
    • financial management is available from Finance at annual.appropriations [at] finance.gov.au
    • people management is available from the APSC at staffingpolicy [at] apsc.gov.au.
Last reviewed: 
4 April 2019