Performance management of employees is critical to supporting a high-performing Australian Public Service (APS). While the management of underperformance is only one aspect of an effective performance management framework, it is important because underperforming employees negatively impact efficiency, productivity and morale.
In conducting the audit, the ANAO examined the management of underperformance in eight agencies: Attorney-General’s Department; Australian Taxation Office; Department of Agriculture and Water Resources; Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; Department of Social Services; Department of Veterans’ Affairs; IP Australia; and the National Film and Sound Archive.
In relation to managing underperformance, APS agencies face a similar environment to many other organisations in Australia, public and private. Like many organisations, APS agencies are covered by the unfair dismissal provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 and a range of other relevant legislation including state and federal work, health and safety laws and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986. A key difference, however, is that APS agencies are covered by the Public Service Act 1999 that provides for specific requirements and confers additional rights of review for APS employees.
The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of the management of underperformance in the Australian Public Service and identify opportunities for improvement. To form a conclusion on the audit objective the following high-level criteria were adopted:
- How effectively are audited agencies managing underperformance?
- Do the agencies’ documented underperformance procedures contribute to the effective management of underperformance?
- Do the agencies’ management practices contribute to the effective management of underperformance?