Secretaries Board: open letter to the Australian Public Service

By Secretaries Board

May 4, 2018

Dear colleagues

As the 20 members of the Secretaries Board, we are proud to lead a workforce that strives for excellence and cares about delivering for all Australians.

We work in a system shaped by the 1974-76 Coombs Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration. Much has changed since then. With this in mind, we are pleased to share the news that the Prime Minister has commissioned a major review of the APS, which will report in the first half of 2019.

The terms of reference set out the Prime Minister’s expectations that the APS should:

  • drive innovation and productivity in the economy;
  • deliver high quality policy advice, regulatory oversight, programs and services;
  • tackle complex challenges in collaboration with the community, business and citizens;
  • ensure our domestic, foreign, trade and security interests are coordinated and well managed;
  • improve citizens’ experience of government and deliver fair outcomes for them; and
  • acquire and maintain the necessary skills and expertise to fulfil its responsibilities.

The review will be led by a panel of experts with experience in the public and private sectors, in academia, in Australia and overseas. The panel Chair, Mr David Thodey AO, is a former Chief Executive Officer of Telstra and current Chairman of the CSIRO. Importantly, he is also an external member of the Secretaries APS Reform Committee, which has stewardship of a range of significant more immediate public sector reforms already underway.

The APS, like any organisation, must adapt to change and strive for improvement. This review provides the opportunity for a thorough assessment of our long term needs. We expect the review will consult widely, both across and beyond the APS. We encourage you to participate and share your views in a frank and fearless manner.

Our workforce has a well-deserved reputation for being professional and highly effective. We are confident the APS will build on this proud history over the coming decades, with the skills and
capabilities to thrive in an increasingly complex operating environment. This includes ensuring all public servants have opportunities for challenging and meaningful work that makes a difference to Australians’ lives.

We look forward to seeing the review’s findings and working with you to bring this vision to life.

Further information on the review, including the terms of reference, is at

Yours sincerely,

Secretaries Board

Frances Adamson, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Glenys Beauchamp PSM, Department of Health

Michele Bruniges AM, Department of Education and Training

Kathryn Campbell CSC, Department of Social Services

John Fraser, The Treasury

Kerri Hartland, Department of Jobs and Small Business

Rosemary Huxtable PSM, Department of Finance

Steven Kennedy PSM, Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities

Renée Leon PSM Department of Human Services

Simon Lewis PSM, Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Chris Moraitis PSM, Attorney-General’s Department

Greg Moriarty, Department of Defence

Mike Mrdak AO, Department of Communications and the Arts

Martin Parkinson AC PSM, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Michael Pezzullo, Department of Home Affairs

Finn Pratt AO PSM, Department of Environment and Energy

Daryl Quinlivan, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Heather Smith PSM, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Nick Warner, Office of National Assessments

The Hon. John Lloyd PSM, Australian Public Service Commissioner

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