25 September 2023

APS Review enters new phase

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The Review of the Australian Public Service (APS) has entered a new phase, launching an online forum and calling for ideas on the characteristics the future APS might display.

Chair of the review, David Thodey announced the move at the ACT conference of the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

“The next two decades are guiding this Review,” Mr Thodey said.

“We’ve spent the last six months listening, talking and thinking. We have opened the next phase of engagement for this Review which includes an online forum available on our website.

He said that during the initial period the Review panel had received submissions covering a wide range of issues.

These included the APS’s purpose and culture; its outcomes and people; how the service was valued; its skills and capability; leadership; expertise; and the difficulties of remaining responsive and inventive.

“The submissions also made it clear there are many challenges, frustrations and inefficiencies,” Mr Thodey said.

He said these included a lack of confidence in parts of the organisation; a disparity or misalignment in some of the priorities; a sense of not always meeting potential or fulfilling expectations; and fragility in many of its relationships.

Also encountered was a feeling that it was a struggle to find and hold onto good people and that there were too many barriers to success.

Mr Thodey said the Review was focussed on the APS of 2030 and had identified five attributions it might have.

He said these were:

* A strong Public Service united in a collective endeavour;

* A world-class Public Service in its policy, regulation and delivery;

* A Public Service that was truly an employer of choice;

* A Public Service that is trusted and respected by its partners; and

* Renowned for using dynamic, digital and adaptive systems and structures.

He said these changes must stand the test of time.

“Transformation does not necessarily mean revolution,” Mr Thodey said.

“The simplest ideas can change the world. We know there are many good initiatives already under way. We’re not about reinventing the wheel.”

He said the Review panel also knew there had been many well considered ideas in the past.

“We are looking at why they weren’t implemented or fully realised.”

“In the coming months we are committed to unpacking these basics and reframing them in the context of a Public Service that is fit-for-purpose in the decades ahead,” Mr Thodey said.

“We all need the Australian Public Service to be confident, independent and impactful — as it has been for more than a century.”

The full text of Mr Thodey’s talk can be accessed on the Review’s website at this PS News link and the online forum at this link.

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