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The new-look NSW public service

An extensive post-election restructure sees the establishment of Australia’s first Department of Customer Service in New South Wales, making a strong statement about what the purpose of government should be.

The new department comes amid a cascade of machinery of government changes affecting thousands of public servants working in the nation’s largest government bureaucracy.

Led by Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello, the new DCS builds on the old Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, which Dominello led prior to the election.

Dominello is joined in the new Customer Service portfolio by the newly minted Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson, and he gives Finance to upper house member Damien Tudehope, who also takes on Small Business and sits in the Treasury portfolio.

The old DFSI was officially abolished but in practical terms, it has been renamed and expanded. In its transformation into the Department of Customer Service, it has snaffled up a few key offices:

  • The Behavioural Insights Unit and the Office of the Customer Service Commissioner from the Department of Premier and Cabinet;
  • The Data Analytics Centre from Treasury;
  • The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages from the former Department of Justice;
  • Liquor & Gaming NSW; and
  • Call-centre staff from Revenue NSW.

Dominello’s new crew will also farewell some of their former colleagues, those who work under the Minister for Water, Property and Housing — now Melinda Pavey, who replaced Niall Blair in the reshuffle.

They are being transferred to another large new entity, the Department of Planning and Industry, a chimera put together mostly from parts of the old Department of Planning and Environment and the old Department of Industry.

Former Department of Planning and Environment secretary Carolyn McNally has announced her resignation. The former head of Infrastructure NSW Jim Betts will reportedly lead the new department, and there is speculation that Industry secretary Martin Hoffman is also out of a job.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian also rolled out a third big new beast this week: the Department of Family and Community Services and Justice. In name and purpose, this combines the roles of two departments that were formerly separate.

The secretary of the former Department of Family and Community Services, Michael Coutts-Trotter, heads up the new FACSJ organisation, and former Justice secretary Andrew Cappie-Wood has retired.

UPDATED: The website of 2GB radio host Ray Hadley incorrectly claimed the union representing NSW prison officers was “outraged” by the decision because the new secretary had been incarcerated, a long time ago.

A Public Service Association spokesperson told The Mandarin that assertion was completely false, Hadley’s show had received no such official statement from the union and furthermore, its members considered the successful rehabilitation of people in correctional facilities a positive reflection on their roles.

Coutts-Trotter gave a fairly magnanimous response in any case.

“I spent nearly three years in jail in their workplace and I’ve got only admiration and respect for the work prison officers do,” the secretary told Hadley.

Old names and new

While their functions do not disappear, these are the old names for departments and agencies that now, at the stroke of Governor David Hurley’s pen, no longer exist. So stop using them.

  • Department of Finance, Services and Innovation
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Industry
  • Department of Planning and Environment
  • Office of Environment and Heritage
  • Office of Local Government
  • Barangaroo Delivery Authority
  • UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation

These are the main arms of the new-look NSW public service:

  • Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • Treasury
  • Department of Customer Service
  • Department of Planning and Industry
  • Department of Transport
  • Ministry of Health
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Family and Community Services and Justice

Where is everyone going?

– The new Planning and Industry cluster swallows up the staff of the Local Government function, Regional NSW and just the environment part of Environment and Heritage.

– Infrastructure NSW’s public service staff agency grabs the public servants who worked for the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and the UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation.

– The Department of Premier and Cabinet takes Aboriginal Affairs from the Department of Education and the heritage function. DPC also welcomes staff from Treasury and the now-abolished DPE, to work under Don Harwin, the new Special Minister of State and the Minister for the Public Service, Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts.

– The new Department of Customer Service takes on the Data Analytics Centre, Behavioural Insights Unit, Office of the Customer Service Commissioner, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Liquor & Gaming NSW, and call-centre staff from Revenue NSW.

– Treasury takes on the staff of Revenue NSW — except its call centre — and those supporting the Procurement Board and any working under the new Minister for Finance and Small Business, Damien Tudehope.

– The new Department of Family and Community Services and Justice says hello to the public servants who work for the NSW Telco Authority.

– The new Department of Planning and Industry absorbs staff working under the Minister for Water, Property and Housing, both from the old DFSI and the old FACS.

– Treasury absorbs the NSW Trade and Investment, the Office of the Small Business Commissioner and staff working under the Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney.

– The Department of Education takes on staff working under the Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education who formerly worked in the old Industry department.

The full list of executive agencies, the job titles of their leaders and where they sit in government is available in the full administrative arrangements order.

Who’s in charge of what now?

The ministers that each department is responsible to:

Department of Premier and Cabinet

  • Premier
  • Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts.

Treasury

  • Treasurer
  • Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade
  • Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney
  • Minister for Finance and Small Business

Department of Customer Service

  • Minister for Customer Service
  • Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation

Department of Planning and Industry

  • Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade
  • Minister for Planning and Public Spaces
  • Minister for Water, Property and Housing Minister for Energy and Environment
  • Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales
  • Minister for Local Government

Department of Transport

  • Minister for Transport and Roads
  • Minister for Regional Transport and Roads

Department of Transport

  • Minister for Transport and Roads
  • Minister for Regional Transport and Roads

Ministry of Health

  • Minister for Health and Medical Research
  • Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women

Department of Education

  • Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning
  • Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education

Department of Family and Community Services and Justice

  • Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
  • Minister for Police and Emergency Services
  • Minister for Counter Terrorism and Corrections
  • Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services
  • Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors and Veterans
  • Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women

Crown Solicitor’s Office

  • Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Fire and Rescue NSW; Office of the NSW State Emergency Service; and Office of the NSW Rural Fire Service

  • Minister for Police and Emergency Services

Parliamentary Counsel’s Office

  • Premier

Service NSW

  • Minister for Customer Service

Office of Sport

  • Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors and Veterans

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article repeated a comment about Michael Coutts-Trotter’s new role that was falsely attributed elsewhere to the NSW Public Service Association branch representing correctional officers. 

Author Bio

Stephen Easton

Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.