Thodey review of the APS completed, sent to the Prime Minister’s department

By Stephen Easton

September 20, 2019

The independent Australian Public Service Review is finished and its final report is in the hands of Phil Gaetjens, secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The chair of the independent panel, David Thodey, gave the final report to Gaetjens on Friday. A short statement from the APS Review gives a vague description of its contents.

“The findings of the review underscore the need for a trusted APS, united in serving all Australians. One that places Australian people at the heart of everything it does.

“This requires new ways of working to meet the demands of an increasingly connected, changing and complex world, while also harnessing the opportunities technological advances bring. A capable and accountable APS that collaborates, partners with others and delivers decisively.”

Gaetjens and the other Commonwealth department heads will now evaluate the final recommendations and report “relevant issues and findings” to cabinet, according to PM&C.

The panel also thanks everyone who has contributed to the review process through 755 submissions and 814 comments in online forums as well as participation in surveys and over 400 meetings, workshops and information sessions, held in cities and towns in every state and territory.

It’s been a long road with plenty of signposts along the way. The panel first ran a five-point vision of what the APS of the future should look like up the flagpole in November, 2018.

Then, four “priorities for change” emerged from the panel in March this year via an interim report, which was launched at a gala event for public servants and other interested onlookers, hosted by the Institute of Public Administration Australia. Thodey gave a speech explaining the interim report before a group of senior public servants gave their initial views.

There was general agreement that the ideas in the interim report were far from original, and that actually implementing genuine and lasting internal reforms in the public service would be the real challenge. In his opening address, Thodey said much the same thing.

“I think that probably every recommendation I’ve put up there has been already canvassed before,” he said at the time.

“So I’m under no illusions that we have a silver bullet here that will make everything different. But what surprised us was that many solutions and innovations have not been fully realised. You know, some changes lost momentum; maybe they were related to some individual. Others were less effective and maybe, some of those good ideas were simply not good enough.”

Read more:

Former mandarins put the squeeze on the Thodey review

Finalised APS Review must be a ‘strategic masterpiece’ to survive whichever party wins government

APS Review draft: everyone’s heard it all before, implementation is the challenge

What ‘common pay’ really means and other things we learned questioning David Thodey

APS Review sets out four priorities for change

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