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Impartiality, professionalism and integrity are important foundations for the public sector. Public sector staff must act with these values in mind, to ensure the use of public funds is as effective and efficient as possible, to meet community needs and to maintain public trust. Government and Parliament must be able to rely on the public sector to deliver effective services and provide robust advice to guide decision-making. 

In previous VAGO audits, we have found instances of poor leadership across multiple public sector agencies, including difficulties in creating positive and ethical organisational cultures. Agencies have not always provided robust, complete, high-quality advice to government—a key aspect of an impartial public sector. These examples, coupled with recent integrity failures, demonstrate the public sector’s need for guidance and support to deliver its work. 

In Australia, public sector commissions have important responsibilities for supporting the professionalism, integrity and capability of the public sector. The Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) was established in 2014 to replace the State Services Authority (SSA). Under the Public Administration Act 2004 (the Act), VPSC’s objectives are to strengthen the efficiency, effectiveness and capability of the public sector, and to maintain and advocate for public sector professionalism and integrity. It undertakes many activities aimed at maintaining and improving the skills required of an effective public sector. 

As VPSC’s portfolio department, the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) is responsible for supporting VPSC to meet its legislated obligations, and advising the Premier and Special Minister of State on the performance of VPSC and the Act. 

There have been significant recent changes in the funding for Victoria’s public sector commission function and in its structure. In 2013, SSA’s budget was reduced by
36 per cent. SSA, and then VPSC, was expected to continue to deliver its activities within the reduced budget. In 2014, when VPSC was established, the governance structure changed with the introduction of an advisory board and the establishment of a single Commissioner. 

In this audit, we examine the effectiveness of VPSC, its governance and its oversight. We focused on organisational planning across VPSC, and looked at how it prioritises its resources and measures its performance. 

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