The Australian Public Service Commission has released its new Digital Professional Stream Strategy, with Digital Transformation Agency boss Randall Brugeaud to lead as the digital head of profession.
APS commissioner Peter Woolcott on Thursday said the strategy was part of the plan to further professionalise the APS, with a focus on the digital expertise of the workforce.
“The Digital Professional Stream Strategy is a structured way to drive a cohesive and engaged digital profession through building digital expertise and delivering for the government and the community,” he said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored, in the sharpest way possible, the need for the APS to be more joined up and agile with digital technology if we are to effectively meet community expectations.”
The government’s Digital Transformation Strategy has highlighted the impact of the digital age on how the APS works, Woolcott noted, with one of its priorities being a government that’s fit and adaptive in the digital age. The need for a formal professions model was also raised in David Thodey’s review of the APS last year, and has been a priority for the APSC, Woolcott said.
The Digital Professional Stream Strategy has been developed through a senior reference group, chaired by Brugeaud and comprised of chief information officers from the Home Affairs and Defence departments, the Australian Taxation Office, and Services Australia. The group also contains representatives from the departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Finance.
While the strategy aims to “lift the digital expertise of the APS workforce to meet long-term capability needs to transform government services”, it has several initial “signature initiatives” to create visibility and momentum, including:
- Establish the profession – taking an iterative approach involving key stakeholders,
- Targeted skills uplift – as an immediate need to lift some critical, advanced digital skills such as SAP skills, cloud and design,
- Foundational skills for all – providing access to basic digital skills for almost everyone working in the APS today, for example, agile teams, basic user research,
- Sample skills assessment – for a sample of 100 volunteers across the APS to help them develop individual development plans and digital career pathway options,
- Diversity – look at work design and workplace flexibility to leverage diversity in digital talent.
Last year the APSC announced the HR professional stream, and appointed the ATO’s chief operating officer Jacqui Curtis as the first head of profession.
As the new digital head of profession, Brugeaud will “champion the digital professional stream and collaboration across agencies”, Woolcott said, noting the DTA has developed a reputation for removing barriers to collaboration and reform in the APS .
He argued this was being accelerated as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They have already made remarkable progress on the digital front,” the commissioner said.
“It will be important for the head of the digital profession to work with heads of APS departments and agencies to ensure we do not revert to business as usual when we emerge from the current crisis.”
Woolcott said the strategy released today has been built on “international experiences and lessons learned” in the UK, Singapore and Canada. Research and partnerships forged with industry, government, the community, and academia have also informed — and will continue to inform — the development of the digital profession.
Public servants who want to participate in the digital professional stream can sign up through the DTA’s website.