The Australian Public Service (APS) is a foundational institution of Australia’s democracy. It performs a critical role within the executive arm of government. Its proper functioning is essential to the future prosperity and security of all Australians and successive governments require the APS to perform efficiently and effectively in order to fulfil their responsibilities.
This is one of the most substantive reviews of the APS conducted since the Coombs Royal Commission of 1976, which helped us navigate the last 40 years so successfully as a nation. The review in 2019 looks at the key actions that must be taken to ensure that the APS is fit for purpose to serve all Australians now and in the decades ahead. This is essential to create a more prosperous Australia for all its citizens.
This review concludes that the APS needs to:
- work more effectively together, guided by a strong purpose and clear values and principles
- partner with the community and others to solve problems
- make better use of digital technologies and data to deliver outstanding services
- strengthen its expertise and professional skills to become a high-performing institution
- use dynamic and flexible means to deliver priorities responsively, and
- improve leadership and governance arrangements.
Critically, the report takes a practical view of the challenge of changing the APS and strongly recommends a new and concerted approach to implementing the review. This needs to commence with strong leadership and direction by the Government and Secretaries Board. Building APS capability is not to be a distraction from delivering government priorities — it is the means to achieve them.
This report calls for outcome-driven targets to measure the progress of the APS against its delivery of government priorities, satisfaction with services, ease of doing business, efficiency, citizen trust and employee engagement. Metrics that ensure the APS has a positive impact on the lives of all Australians and is accountable to the public. Action can begin immediately.
The recommended reforms are predicated on reinforcing the strength and institutional capability of the APS to best serve, in the enduring Westminster tradition, the Government, the Parliament and the people of Australia. For the government of the day this means an APS that is delivering against its priorities, providing the highest quality advice, and implementing decisions effectively and efficiently.