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Strengthening the performance framework: Diagnostic Implementation tool

This paper was prepared by:

  • Professor Deborah Blackman, University of New South Wales, Canberra
  • Professor Michael O'Donnell, University of New South Wales, Canberra
  • Dr Fiona Buick, University of Canberra
  • Dr Damian West, Australia Public Service Commission
  • Shayla Ribeiro, Australian Public Service Commission

An appropriate citation for this paper is:

Blackman, D., Buick, F., O'Donnell, M., O'Flynn, J. and West, D. (2013), Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a High Performing Australian Public Service, Australian Public Service Commission, Canberra.

July 2014


The purpose of the Diagnostic process is to support the implementation of a High Performance Framework which will enable Australian Public Service (APS) agencies achieve high performance through the maximisation of their performance management systems. Based on research which identified that the attainment of high performance is affected more by the implementation of a performance system, rather than by redesigning the system itself, the Diagnostic process has been developed to enhance APS Agency outcomes from performance management.

Application of the Diagnostic process should enable APS agencies develop performance management systems which reflect a clear articulation of high performance at the agency, group and individual levels, thereby providing clear links for individuals between their work objectives and the priorities of their agency. Organisational structure, management, administrative and systems will be reviewed and, where necessary, updated to support clear expectations of the standard of work required, offer feedback to employees focused on how they can improve or sustain their performance, and enable capability development where required.


The overarching aim of the Diagnostic process is to support APS agencies in achieving high performance. To facilitate the achievement of high performance, the Diagnostic process has been designed to:

  • gauge the extent to which an agency's practices and its people capabilities align with those which have been demonstrated to positively impact performance (high performance principles);
  • assist APS agencies to assess their baseline condition, identify areas of strength and weakness, and the required actions to achieve more consistent and better practice; and
  • utilise quantitative and qualitative inputs to identify key areas requiring improvement and provide suggestions for action.

The Diagnostic framework used to guide the process incorporates both primary and secondary questions which will encourage a line of enquiry and reflection regarding whether current performance processes within an agency are supporting the development of high performance. The use of both the Diagnostic process and framework should, over time, enable an agency to make an assessment of year-on-year improvement.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018