Halton’s annual report overhaul: ‘next year will be different’

Can annual reports be slimmed-down, sexed up and seamlessly linked to corporate plans? It could happen in the Australian Public Service as part of the rolling public management reform agenda and the Coalition’s search for smaller government.

Can government annual reporting become less onerous for public servants and more useful to the community at the same time? Department of Finance secretary Jane Halton hopes it can, as the new Commonwealth Performance Framework links reporting to planning.

Speaking at the Institute for Public Administration’s Annual Report Awards last night, Halton said her department was working to “rationalise” annual reporting requirements for 2015-16, as part of smaller government reforms. Corporate plans would need to be seamlessly linked to annual reports in future.

“One of the key things we’re doing for the PGPA [Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act] is to establish the performance framework across government and our objective is to make sure that this framework can genuinely take effect from the 15-16 reporting year, so we will see two documents, I hope, which are bookends,” she explained. “They are equivalents. They are both incredibly important.”

She gave special thanks to the public servants who “put their heart and soul” into producing annual reports and acknowledged the role the awards play in professional development by involving volunteers from the APS teams that produce them in the assessment process.

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