Public sector reform, ensuring good governance, and lifting the capability of the APS are at the very top of the Australian Public Service Commission’s priorities, according to its recently released Corporate Plan.
Classifications reviews, digital reform, a flexible workforce and a greater focus on training are all areas that currently have the commission’s attention.
Australian Public Service Commissioner Peter Woolcott released the Corporate Plan 2021-22, noting that the commission’s purpose is to strengthen the professionalism of the APS and continually improve its workforce management.
“Throughout 2020–21, the APS has worked as one enterprise to solve challenges and deliver essential support to all Australians. Close collaboration across the service has allowed the APS to leverage a wide range of skills and expertise, and sees us emerge from challenging times with new strengths and greater diversity of insight,” Woolcott said.
“The last 18 months demonstrated that we can never fully anticipate what the future may hold. However we can be confident that our continuing investment in the capability of our workforce will ensure the APS remains equipped and ready to support the government and the public.
“Individual and organisational capability and leadership will be central to ensuring that the APS is able to deliver the government’s priorities. In partnership with APS agencies, the commission is committed to taking a collaborative, service-wide approach to lifting APS capability, building leadership and maintaining an APS of the highest standards.”
The continuing coronavirus pandemic has thrown up numerous challenges for the APS over the past 18 months, forcing intense pivots and the adoption of numerous and varied new work practices. The challenges have also revealed the capability levels of the sector as it rises to meet those challenges.
The plan continues with the six leading strategic priorities for the commission going forward, which are: ensuring good governance; lifting the capability of the APS; bulking leadership for the future; preserving and enhancing the reputation of the APS; upholding integrity of the APS; providing the right tools and workplace for staff.
It is in part another step in the APS’s response to the Thodey review, which highlighted the need for serious reform across the sector.
The new APS Academy forms a major component of the plan to help build leadership and facilitate reform.
The academy’s learning pillars include culture, governance, capabilities, and technology — all with the view of building an upskilled workforce prepared to meet the challenges of a changing world.
Steps outlined in the APSC’s corporate plan to enable it to carry out its goals include:
- Engage with Commonwealth agencies to ensure proposed collective workplace arrangements are compliant with the public sector workplace relations policy;
- Provide diversity and inclusion support, guidance and leadership to agencies;
- Support the APS to build a continuous learning culture and develop the critical capabilities identified in the APS Workforce Strategy through the implementation of an APS-wide Learning and Development (L&D) Strategy and Action Plan;
- The Australian Government Graduate Program (AGGP) enables more efficient recruitment of the capability the APS requires to deliver for Australia;
- Commission initiatives improve the operating environment for temporary mobility in the APS, to assist the delivery of government priorities;
- Support Secretaries Board to build a strong and diverse leadership pipeline via the Secretaries Talent Council and the Deputy Secretaries Talent Council;
- Engage with foreign partners to strengthen public sector institutions, policies and practices, both within Australia and internationally;
- Support workforce planning capability development across the APS;
- Influence and shape the strategic direction of the APS by collecting, analysing and sharing workforce data;
- Connect practitioners and build workplace relations capability;
- Develop and implement initiatives to strengthen integrity culture in the APS;
- Complete the APS Hierarchy and Classification Review, including practical recommendations for a clear, effective and efficient classification structure that is fit for the future and an optimal management structure for the APS;
- APS Academy offers quality APS Craft learning, drawn from across the APS, co-designed with agencies and drawing on external expertise where required; and
- Build digital capability and support digital ways of working in the APS through delivery of the Digital Profession.