APS commissioner subscribes to regular communication

By Stephen Easton

Thursday June 4, 2015

The Australian Public Service Commission has launched a new monthly online newsletter, sensibly named APSC NEWS.

In its first rather sombre edition, APS commissioner John Lloyd explains the publication aims to provide an insight into the commission’s work and promote discussion, and asks for feedback on how it can be improved.

There’s details of two new Executive Level 2 leadership programs, based on “the same adaptive leadership philosophy” that underpins professional development for the Senior Executive Service, and a reminder to complete the APS Census by June 12.

New performance management requirements that come into effect on July 1 are the subject of one item. Explicit instructions will be published online for agency heads, managers and staff. The newsletter explains:

“These requirements will have the force of law, and all APS employees and managers should make themselves familiar with them before their introduction.

This amendment is part of a comprehensive plan to lift the standard of performance management in the APS. Other initiatives include a diagnostic tool to measure the effectiveness of performance management at the agency level, and core skills training developed by the Commission on behalf of all APS agencies.

Effective performance management is a key element of any high performing organisation. Individuals and organisations benefit when expectations are clear and outcomes are achieved. It’s core business, and we need to invest the time to get it right. The links above provide practical guidance and information.”

Another reminds federal agencies that while they can once again recruit externally without Lloyd’s approval, “continued restraint” is expected and guidance about “ongoing monitoring and reporting arrangements” will soon be issued. There’s also an update on the enterprise bargaining stalemate: despite “nearly 60 remuneration and productivity proposals” being approved, only four enterprise agreements have gone to a staff vote and none have been accepted.

The article urges employees to work together with their employers to achieve “modest and sustainable pay increases, backed by reasonable productivity gains” and claims the commission only wants to remove unnecessary words from enterprise agreements to make them “easier to read than before”, not to remove entitlements as unions fear:

“Streamlining agreement content is not about removing entitlements. Streamlining means not repeating things that are already covered elsewhere, like recruitment or work health and safety. It can also mean taking out words that do not create an entitlement or obligation.

Excess words in an agreement are not the same as an entitlement. The benefit for you is a clearly understood set of terms and conditions, in an enterprise agreement that covers the things you need to know.”

If the “excess words” are so unimportant, one might ask why the government wants them removed.

Along with more key dates and events, the first edition of APSC NEWS brings word that the commission will soon release a new Indigenous Recruitment and Retention Strategy to support agencies in meeting their new target of 3% indigenous employees by 2018.

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