25 September 2023

APS Commissioner sees challenges for APS

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The Australian Public Service (APS) is set to become more permeable, more active in discussing policies and more outgoing with political staffers under the new APS Commissioner, Peter Woolcott.

Speaking at an APSwide conference in Canberra last week, Mr Woolcott (pictured) painted a picture of the APS operating in a changing world with advances in technology and increased community expectations of Government presenting challenges that would need to be addressed

“What marks us now is a sense of uncertainty,” Mr Woolcott said.

“The APS like many institutions in Western Democracies is under challenge.”

He said the challenge the APS was under was to “be agile, deliver conveniently, protect information and deliver better policy and more efficient services”.

“The APS is certainly not broken,” Mr Woolcott said, “but it does need to be ready to respond quickly to changing community needs.”

He said the way to do this was to be more permeable: “more engaged with the private sector and community groups”.

He said the APS needed to become better at engaging in policy discussions with civil society and the private sector.

“We need to recognise that there has been a shift in the nature of power. That as a result of new communications technologies, power is moving to coalitions and networks.”

He said the APS still didn’t “do whole of Government” as well as it needed to.

“We also need to do better at assisting political staff to understand how to utilise and work with the APS.”

On workplace relations Mr Woolcott said the APSC would continue to play an important role in supporting Agencies through their bargaining.

“We will help to deliver fair, effective and sustainable workplace arrangements that are in line with the Government’s bargaining policy,” he said.

In conclusion, the Commissioner said that during his term he would focus on building capability and upholding the integrity and values of the APS to continue to support Governments now and into the future.

“Most of all, I am determined to keep the APSC at the beating heart of good government,” he said.

The full text of the speech can be accessed on the APSC website at this PS News link.

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