|Australian Public Service overview|
|Formed||1 January 1901|
|Headquarters|| Canberra, Australia |
(39.1 per cent of staff)
|Employees||152,430 (at June 2015)|
|Australian Public Service executives|
|Minister for the Public Service|
|Australian Public Service|
|Appointer||Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Australia|
|Inaugural holder||Mathias Cormann|
|Formation||28 August 2018|
The Australian Public Service (APS) is the federal civil service of the Commonwealth of Australia responsible for the public administration, public policy, and public services of the departments and executive and statutory agencies of the Government of Australia.The Australian Public Service was established at the Federation of Australia in 1901 as the Commonwealth Public Service and modeled on the Westminster system and United Kingdom's Civil Service. The establishment and operation of the Australian Public Service is governed by the Public Service Act 1999 of the Parliament of Australia as an "apolitical public service that is efficient and effective in serving the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public". The conduct of Australian public servants is also governed by a Code of Conduct and guided by the APS Values set by the Australian Public Service Commission.
The civil service is independent of government and is also composed mainly of career bureaucrats hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leadership. A civil servant or public servant is a person employed in the public sector on behalf of a government department or agency. A civil servant or public servant's first priority is to represent the interests of citizens. The extent of civil servants of a state as part of the "civil service" varies from country to country. In the United Kingdom, for instance, only Crown employees are referred to as civil servants whereas county or city employees are not.
Public administration is the implementation of government policy and also an academic discipline that studies this implementation and prepares civil servants for working in the public service. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" whose fundamental goal is to "advance management and policies so that government can function". Some of the various definitions which have been offered for the term are: "the management of public programs"; the "translation of politics into the reality that citizens see every day"; and "the study of government decision making, the analysis of the policies themselves, the various inputs that have produced them, and the inputs necessary to produce alternative policies."
Public policy is the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues, in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. There has recently been a movement for greater use of evidence in guiding policy decisions. Proponents of evidence-based policy argue that high quality scientific evidence, rather than tradition, intuition, or political ideology, should guide policy decisions.
As such, the employees and officers of the Australian Public Service are obliged to serve the government of the day with integrity and provide "frank and fearless advice" on questions of public policy, from national security to fiscal policy to social security, across machinery of government arrangements.Indeed, the Australian Public Service plays a major part in Australian life by providing "cradle to grave" services with a degree of shared responsibility with the State and Territory governments. The Australian Public Service as an entity does not include the broader Commonwealth public sector including the Australian Defence Force, Commonwealth companies such as NBN Co Limited or the Australian Rail Track Corporation, or Commonwealth corporate entities such as the Australian National University or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The Australian Public Service does not include the civil services of the State and Territory governments.
National security is the security of a nation state, including its citizens, economy, and institutions, which is regarded as a duty of government.
In economics and political science, fiscal policy is the use of government revenue collection and expenditure (spending) to influence a country's economy. The use of government revenues and expenditures to influence macroeconomic variables developed as a result of the Great Depression, when the previous laissez-faire approach to economic management became discredited. Fiscal policy is based on the theories of the British economist John Maynard Keynes, whose Keynesian economics indicated that government changes in the levels of taxation and government spending influences aggregate demand and the level of economic activity. Fiscal and monetary policy are the key strategies used by a country's government and central bank to advance its economic objectives. The combination of these policies enables these authorities to target the inflation and to increase employment. Additionally, it is designed to try to keep GDP growth at 2%–3% and the unemployment rate near the natural unemployment rate of 4%–5%. This implies that fiscal policy is used to stabilize the economy over the course of the business cycle.
Social security is "any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income". In the United States, this is usually called welfare or a social safety net, especially when talking about Canada and European countries.
Public servants are ultimately responsible to the Parliament of Australia via their respective portfolio Minister. The Australian Public Service Commission is responsible for promoting the values of the public service, evaluating performance and compliance, and facilitating the development of people and institutional capabilities.The Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is the most senior public servant and plays a leadership role as the chair of the intergovernmental Secretaries Board made up of all Commonwealth departmental secretaries. The Australian National Audit Office, the Department of Finance, the Department of the Treasury, and the Attorney-General's Department also have whole-of-government oversight and management responsibilities.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) is an Australian Government public service central department of state with broad ranging responsibilities, primary of which is for intergovernmental and whole of government policy coordination and assisting the Prime Minister of Australia in managing the Cabinet of Australia. The PM&C was established in 1971 and traces its origins back to the Prime Minister's Department established in 1911.
In the administration of government in Australia, a departmental secretary is the most senior public servant of a Commonwealth or state government department, charged with leading the department on a day-to-day basis.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is the national auditor for the Parliament of Australia and Government of Australia. It reports directly to the Australian Parliament via the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate. Administratively, the ANAO is located in the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio.
As at June 2015, the Australian Public Service comprises some 152,430 officers alongside a further 90,000 people employed in the broader Commonwealth public sector.Accordingly, the Australian Public Service is one of the largest employers in Australia.
The public service was established at Federation. The departments established on 1 January 1901 were Attorney-General’s, Defence, External Affairs, Home Affairs, Trade and Customs, Postmaster-General's, and The Treasury.
The Federation of Australia was the process by which the six separate British self-governing colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia agreed to unite and form the Commonwealth of Australia, establishing a system of federalism in Australia. Fiji and New Zealand were originally part of this process, but they decided not to join the federation. Following federation, the six colonies that united to form the Commonwealth of Australia as states kept the systems of government that they had developed as separate colonies, but they also agreed to have a federal government that was responsible for matters concerning the whole nation. When the Constitution of Australia came into force, on 1 January 1901, the colonies collectively became states of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Attorney-General's Department is a department of the federal government of Australia responsible for law and justice, and since 29 May 2019, industrial relations.
The Department of Defence is a department of the Government of Australia charged with the responsibility to defend Australia and its national interests. Along with the Australian Defence Force (ADF), it forms part of the Australian Defence Organisation (ADO) and is accountable to the Commonwealth Parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, for the efficiency and effectiveness with which it carries out the Government's defence policy.
The first public service appointments were made under section 67 of the Constitution of Australia, and this arrangement remained in place until the commencement of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902, which came into force on 1 January 1903. At the commencement of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, there were 11,374 officials employed under the Act.
The Constitution of Australia is the supreme law under which the government of the Commonwealth of Australia operates, including its relationship to the States of Australia. It consists of several documents. The most important is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, which is referred to as the "Constitution" in the remainder of this article. The Constitution was approved in a series of referendums held over 1898–1900 by the people of the Australian colonies, and the approved draft was enacted as a section of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp), an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
A new legislative framework was introduced in 1923 in the form of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922.
A section in both the 1902 Act and the 1922 Act stated that every female officer was deemed to have retired from the Commonwealth service upon her marriage.In November 1966 Australia became the last democratic country to lift the legislated marriage bar which had prevented married women from holding permanent positions in the public service.
In November 1996, Peter Reith issued a discussion paper, Towards a best practice Australian Public Service. December 1999. The new Act introduced APS Values and a Code of Conduct into the Act for the first time. Public servants who breach the code of conduct can be demoted, fined, reprimanded or fired.The paper, among other things, recommended key elements which might need to be incorporated into a new streamlined and principles-based Public Service Act. After several years spent developing a new Act, the Public Service Act 1999 came into effect on 5
In 2010 a comprehensive reform agenda was introduced as outlined in Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government Administration.The reforms were aimed at strengthening strategic direction, citizen engagement and staff capability across the APS.
Geoff Gallop describes the spectrum of activities undertaken by staff in the APS as fitting into four work functions: service delivery; law making, rule making and policy development; tax collection and managing government finance; and monitoring and enforcing laws and regulations.
The APS Values are set out in section 10 of the Public Service Act 1999.The Values are mandatory and are intended to embody the principles of good public administration.
The APS Values were most recently revised in 2013, with the aim to comprise a smaller set of core values that are meaningful, memorable and effective in driving change.The values are stated in section 10 of the Public Service Act 1999 as follows:
|APS staff employed by year. Figures gathered from annual State of the Service reports and historic news articles|
The Australian Public Service formally comprises all Australian Government departments and agencies where staff members are or can be employed under the Public Service Act 1999.At June 2013, there were 167,257 APS employees, down from 168,580 APS employees in June 2012. The 2013 figure included 152,230 ongoing (or permanent) employees, and 15,027 non-ongoing (or contract) employees. Staffing in Australian Public Service agencies accounts for around half of total employment in Australian Government administration. Public servants employed by the Commonwealth Government under legislation other than the Public Service Act include Australian Defence Force personnel, government business enterprise employees, parliamentary staff, Australian Federal Police staff and public servants under other Commonwealth agency-specific legislation.
In the decade to December 2012 the APS grew in numbers; there was also notable 'classification creep', in which a higher proportion of staff are employed at higher pay-grade levels.Before the 2013 federal election, the Coalition promised to reduce the size of the public service by at least 12000 jobs, through natural attrition. Joe Hockey told an Adelaide radio station in May 2013 that the Coalition planned for the loss of 12,000 public service jobs to be just a starting point in the first two years of a Coalition government.
Overall the APS has quite a feminised workforce—57.9 per cent of all APS employees are women. 39.1 per cent of APS employees work in the Australian Capital Territory. At June 2013, the median age for ongoing APS employees was 43 years. Like the Australian population, the APS workforce has been ageing rapidly since the early 1990s.
At June 2013 the largest federal government agency was the Department of Human Services with 33,658 employees, followed by the Australian Taxation Office with 24,274 employees and the Department of Defence with 22,330.
In 2009 there was a ratio of one APS official for every 135 Australians, compared to 1991 ratios of 1:106.
Beginning in 2009–10 all APS entities were required to report in accordance with the Outcomes and Programs Framework, whereby programs provide the link between Australian Government decisions, actitivities and their actual outcomes.In the Outcomes and Programs Framework, organisations identify and report against the programs that contribute to government outcomes over the budget and forward years. All APS agencies contribute to Portfolio Budget Statements that inform Parliament and the public of the proposed allocation of Government outcomes. Portfolio budget statements outline:
Annual reports report performance of agencies in relation to services provided.
Prior to the introduction of the Outcomes and Programs Framework APS entities reported against an Outcomes and Outputs Framework, which had been introduced in 1999.Reforms have been progressively introduced to the APS with the specific aim of making it more efficient, accountable and responsive to community needs since the mid-1980s.
The Australian National Audit Office provides the Australian Parliament and the public with an independent assessment of selected areas of public administration in the APS, and assurance about APS financial reporting, administration and accountability.
In November 2009 KPMG published a report benchmarking Australian Public Service performance against international public services.The report found that the APS measured up well against some of the world's leading public services. The report found that the APS is a high performer compared to other public services when it came to: being responsive to economic changes; being independent and values-based; and for proportions of women employed. It found that the APS performed poorly in: its capability for coordinated, informed and strategic policy; its mechanisms for integrating external stakeholders into policy development and service design; and its understanding of government priorities through an overarching framework.
The APS is often the target of public criticism. For example, in 2011 and again in 2013, the director, deregulation at the Institute of Public Affairs, Alan Moran, argued that the Australian Government was not seeking enough savings from a bloated Australian Public Service.In October 2013, newly appointed Defence Minister David Johnston told media he had 'inherited a mess' and that he believed that in the Defence department '23,000 public servants is too heavy.' The Noetic group said in 2014 that most Australian Public Service organisations could not demonstrate the benefits from large and expensive programs of work.
Other commentators, including political scientist Richard Mulgan, have argued that rhetoric in 2013 about a bloated APS is ill-informed and unsustainable, if service benchmarks are to be met.Rob Burgess, in a Business Spectator article in November 2012 argued that efficiency dividends imposed on the public service are actually delivering one of the world's leaner public sectors.
All APS vacancies for ongoing and non-ongoing jobs for more than 12 months are notified in the APS Employment Gazette, a weekly electronic publication. Public service wages were decentralised in 1997, allowing individual APS agencies to negotiate their own pay deals. Individual Australian Government agency websites also advertise jobs and some jobs are advertised on external job boards, such as in newspapers.
The Australian Public Service career structure is hierarchical.The table below lists APS employment classification levels from lowest to highest.
|Example position titles [A]||'Total annual reward [B] |
|APS 1||Departmental Officer||$56,511|
|APS 2||Departmental Officer||$66,091|
|APS 3||Departmental Officer||$73,839|
|APS 4||Departmental Officer||$82,300|
|APS 5||Departmental Officer||$89,807|
|APS 6||Departmental Officer||$106,046|
|EL 1||Assistant Director||$131,945|
|EL 2||Director |
|SES Band 1||Assistant Secretary (AS) |
Group Manager (GM)
Executive Director (ED)
|SES Band 2||First Assistant Secretary (FAS) |
Group Executive Director (GED)
|SES Band 3||Deputy Secretary (DEPSEC) |
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
|Agency head||Chief Executive Officer|
|Departmental head||Secretary||$673,000 (2013)|
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is responsible to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service. The APSC is led by a Commissioner, who is tasked with promoting the APS Values, evaluating public service performance and compliance, and helping to build the capability of the Service.
The Government also recognises a role for the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for certain aspects of leadership of the APS.[ citation needed ]
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the department of the Government of Australia responsible for foreign policy, foreign relations, foreign aid, consular services, and trade and investment.
The Australian Public Service Commission is a statutory agency of the Australian Government that acts to ensure future capability and sustainability within the approximately 160,000 people that comprise the Australian Public Service.
The Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) was a department of the Government of Australia.
The Department of Finance is a department of the Government of Australia that is charged with the responsibility of assisting the government across a wide range of policy areas to ensure its outcomes are met, particularly with regard to expenditure, financial management, and the operations of government.
Services Australia, formerly known as the Department of Human Services (DHS) is a department of the Government of Australia responsible for delivering a range of welfare, health, child support payments and other services to the people of Australia. Services Australia delivers its services through two organisations and three departmental master programs:
The Department of Health is a department of the Government of Australia charged with overseeing the running of Australia's health system, including supporting universal and affordable access to medical, pharmaceutical and hospital services, as well as helping people to stay healthy through health promotion, participation and exercise and other disease prevention activities.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development is an Australian Public Service department of the Government of Australia charged with the responsibility for infrastructure and major projects, transport, local government, external territories administration, rural and regional development, population policy, and cities.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is an Act of the Parliament of Australia that provides a framework for protection of the Australian environment, including its biodiversity and its natural and culturally significant places. Enacted on 17 July 2000, it established a range of processes to help protect and promote the recovery of threatened species and ecological communities, and preserve significant places from decline. The EPBC Act replaced the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs is a department of the Government of Australia, established in 1976, and charged with the responsibility of delivering government programs for war veterans, members of the Australian Defence Force, members of the Australian Federal Police, and their dependants. The Repatriation Commission's Day-to-Day manager is the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
The Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport was an Australian government department. It was formed in December 2011, absorbing the former Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government along with Arts and Sport functions from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The department was abolished in September 2013 with its functions moved to other Australian Government departments.
The Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government was an Australian Government department that existed between September 2010 and December 2011.
The Auditor-General of New South Wales helps the Parliament of New South Wales hold government accountable for its use of public resources.
The Department of Infrastructure and Transport was an Australian government department. It was formed in September 2010, following the federal election in August 2010. The department absorbing parts of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. Regional development and local government functions were sent to the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government. Following the 2013 federal election, the department was renamed on 18 September 2013 to become the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, regaining regional development and local government functions.
The Australian Department of Social Services is a department of the Government of Australia charged with the responsibility for national policies and programs that help deliver a strong and fair society for all Australians. The department develops and implements social policy.
The Department of Finance and Administration was an Australian government department tasked to contribute to sustainable Government finances; improved and more efficient Government operations; and efficiently functioning Parliament. The Department existed between October 1997 and December 2007, operating under the Howard Government.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development was an Australian Government department that existed between September 2013 and December 2017. Matters dealt with by the department included: infrastructure planning and coordination; transport safety; land transport; civil aviation and airports; maritime transport including shipping; administration of Australian territories; constitutional development of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory; regional programs; regional development; local government matters; and regional policy.