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Work level standards: Senior Executive Service

The following Work Level Standards (WLS) have been developed as a basis for determining classification of Senior Executive Service (SES) roles within the Australian Public Service (APS). They are intended to provide a broad framework that will apply to all SES roles across the APS. Definitions should be regarded as general in nature and will require some level of interpretation depending upon specific role circumstances.

The SES provides leadership at both agency and whole of APS levels. All SES must demonstrate behaviours and actions that model and promote the APS Values and Code of Conduct. Similarly, the SES represents the APS and government externally to stakeholders. All SES roles are characterised by a high level of accountability for outcomes. The Integrated Leadership System (ILS) identifies the skills and behaviours required at each of the three SES levels.

These WLS are structured to provide a degree of differentiation between the levels of SES roles, i.e. at SES Bands 1, 2 and 3, including in those dimensions where the degree of differentiation may not be obvious. For this reason, the WLS are intended to be viewed in their entirety for purposes of making a classification determination. To assist this process, particular distinguishing characteristics have been identified at each SES level, which seek to capture the fundamental differences.

The diversity of roles that comprise the SES structure is significant. SES roles, at Bands 1 and 2 in particular, may include the direction of program or project based delivery functions, development or implementation of public policy, development and implementation of compliance and enforcement programs, or the provision of expertise which ensures the integrity of decision making and planning processes of government. Typically, although any single SES role may incorporate many of these elements, the role may have been established on the basis of a more significant contribution in one of these directions. Material contained in the SES Bands 1 and 2 WLS often logically relates more strongly to one of four streams, and it is useful to consider where a given role has a stronger fit with one of these four contribution areas. When considering a specific SES role at these levels, it may be useful to identify this natural alignment in order to ensure that the most value can be gained from the content of the WLS and interpretation of descriptors. Consideration of secondary contributions may then provide useful verification of the initial interpretations.

The four streams are:

  • Delivery The most significant contribution of roles is outcome delivery and/or effective resource management. This may include development of delivery responses for policy objectives. Roles are accountable for a measurable impact on the agency or APS as a whole (e.g. achievement of objectives through the management of financial, human and physical resources). This may be directed to an ongoing delivery program, integration of multiple programs for delivery or to a finite government initiative.
  • Public Policy The most significant contribution of roles relates to the provision of policy advice. This advice reflects research and analysis of financial and other implications and stakeholder views obtained through consultations, and articulation of policy in policy statements, regulatory or financial measures and legislation.
  • Regulatory The most significant contribution of roles relates to information gathering and risk assessment, and the design and implementation of compliance and enforcement programs within a governance framework.
  • Professional / SpecialistThe most significant contribution of roles is the provision of technical, professional, specialist, or strategic advice. This advice has a primary influence on adopted strategies, plans and targets and outcomes in terms of effectiveness or efficiency.

Work level standards

Last reviewed: 
4 March 2019