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Australia

Independent Review of the Australian Public Service (AU0022)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Australia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Support Institution(s): All Australian Government departments and their staff will be encouraged to contribute to the review. The review will also engage with state and territory governments to understand their experiences of designing and implementing transformational organisational change. Specific organisations are not currently known. but it is expected that a wide range will be consulted in the course of the review. including citizens. APS employees. community groups. business groups. public sector unions and academia.

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Australia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Engage Australians in the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service
Commitment Start and End Date
September 2078-June 2079
Lead implementing agency/actor
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Commitment description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The Australian public and successive Australian governments have been well served by a highly professional Australian Public Service (APS). The APS has consistently engaged with the key policy, program. service delivery and regulatory challenges of the day, and sought to understand current management. governance and technological developments.
However. new technology and global developments are transforming the Australian economy and society. This will continue and accelerate over the decades ahead. posing new opportunities and challenges for citizens. business and the broader community.
TheGovernment is determined to ensure Australia capitalises on the opportunities this provides to drive innovation. increase productivity, create jobs. improve citizens· experience of government. and deliver better services. The APS has a critical role in assisting government to manage and respond to new and emerging challenges- both in policy and implementation. But it must be best placed to harness the opportunities. with the necessary in-house capability to both develop and implement solutions.
This means improving the capacity of the APS to innovate. collaborate. and to use data and technology more effectively.
What is the commitment?
The Government has established an independent review to ensure the APS is fit-for-purpose for the coming decades. The review will examine the capability, culture and operating model of the APS and identify an ambitious program of transformational reforms.
The independent panel leading the review will consult widely, both within and outside the APS.
The panel will ensure their work is undertaken in an open and transparent manner. in collaboration with the APS and its stakeholders.
To do this. the panel will:
• encourage wide participation both within and outside the APS. and input to deliberations throughout the life of the review (including through more dynamic engagement mechanisms such as on line polls);
• utilise appropriate technologies. such as artificial intelligence and natural language processing capabilities to support timely development of insights and analysis; and
test ideas (both face-to-face and online) in an open and iterative manner.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
Ensuring recommendations are well informed and reflect stakeholder input will maximise their impact in delivering transformational change and ensuring the APS is fit-for-purpose in 2030 and beyond.
By conducting the review in this manner. the panel will model a best practice approach and set the expectations for the conduct of future reviews.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment will advance the OGP values of transparency
and civic participation by:
• conducting the review in an open and iterative manner;
• facilitating informed public participation into the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service;
• improving policy development and service delivery; and
enhancing transparency around the inputs to government decision-making
Additional information
Up-to-date information on the Independent Review of the APS is available at: https:!/www.apsreview.gov.au/
Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable
Open and ongoing consultation through face-to-face and online mechanisms which. where permissible. will be published
7/1/2018 – 6/30/2019
Report delivered to government
4/1/2019 – 6/30/2019
Contact information
Contacts
Independent Review of the APS taskforce. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Email and Phone
agsreview©gmc.gov.au
Other Actors Involved
All Australian Government departments and their staff will be encouraged to contribute to the review.
The review will also engage with state and territory governments to understand their experiences of designing and implementing transformational organisational change.
Specific organisations are not currently known. but it is expected that a wide range will be consulted in the course of the review. including citizens. APS employees. community groups. business groups. public sector unions and academia.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Engage Australians in the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service

Commitment Text:

The government has established an independent review to ensure the APS is fit-for-purpose for the coming decades. The review will examine the capability, culture and operating model of the APS and identify an ambitious program of transformational reforms.

The independent panel leading the review will consult widely, both within and outside the APS.

The panel will ensure their work is undertaken in an open and transparent manner, in collaboration with the APS and its stakeholders.

To do this, the panel will:

  • encourage wide participation both within and outside the APS, and input to deliberations throughout the life of the review (including through more dynamic engagement mechanisms such as online polls);
  • utilise appropriate technologies, such as artificial intelligence and natural language processing capabilities to support timely development of insights and analysis; and
  • test ideas (both face-to-face and online) in an open and iterative manner.

Milestones:

  • Open and ongoing consultation through face-to-face and online mechanisms which, where permissible, will be published
  • Report delivered to government

Start Date: September 2018                                                                 End Date: August 2020

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text, see the Australia National Action Plan available at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Australia_Action-Plan_2018-2020.pdf.

Context and Objectives

The Innovation and Science Council, established in 2015 as part of the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, [48] produced a strategic plan for Australia’s innovation, science, and research system. That plan, Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation, [49] identified the need for the public sector to work more flexibly across industries and to significantly improve its policy and service delivery, including using digital technology. The plan recommended the federal government review the Australian Public Service (APS) to enable it to play a greater role in innovative policy development, implementation, and service delivery. [50]

In response, [51] the federal government established a process to independently review the APS’ capability, culture, operating model, performance evaluations, and governing legislation, particularly noting “how it ensures the transparent and most effective use of taxpayers’ money in delivering outcomes.” [52] According to the terms reference, the review panel would “consult widely, both within and outside the APS, including … a reference group of eminent individuals with a diverse range of domestic and international, public and private sector expertise.” [53]

Noting that the inclusion of this commitment in the action plan pre-dates completion of the APS review, this commitment aimed to encourage wide public participation in the APS review and the testing of ideas in an open and inclusive manner. It is therefore relevant to the OGP value of civic participation. The commitment also provided for the use of technology and innovation in facilitating such participation, including the use of artificial intelligence and natural language processing capabilities to support timely development of insights and analysis.

This commitment, as written, is generally verifiable. While any report delivered to the government will not be completely verifiable until it is released publicly, the use of public consultations to inform the review is verifiable. However, beyond online polls, the commitment does not outline specific mechanisms for citizen engagement, which contributes to a lack of specificity.

If fully implemented as written, this commitment stood to have minor potential impact on the success of the APS Review through greater citizen engagement. The IRM notes, for instance, that opportunities for citizen participation in the APS Review were available prior to this commitment; the review called for submissions between 4 June 2018 [54] and 31 July 2018. [55] A group of national and international experts with diverse public- and private-sector experience was appointed on 12 July 2018. [56] This suggests that the introduction of this commitment was unlikely to significantly change existing practice. Although developments pertaining to the implementation of this commitment—i.e. during the APS review process—are beyond the purview of the IRM’s design report, the IRM recognizes that workshops for APS and members of the public, along with other opportunities for participation, took place throughout the review. [57]

The broad terms of reference governing the APS review meant that the review panel could receive submissions from across the functions and services of the APS. Given the diverse issues that were expected to arise through such a process, the influence of individual submissions is contingent on the conduct of the review and how specific issues are identified and tested. The impact of public participation on the review, at the time the commitment was included in the action plan, is therefore uncertain.

The broad scope of the APS review, and the wide range of issues under consideration, was expected to invite a large number of submissions. The success of the review in attracting submissions from a large number of persons, representing a variety of perspectives, along with evidence of effectively responding to such participation, may encourage future use of the participatory methods employed, including the use of technology.

Next Steps

The review itself was anticipated to include recommendations for implementing structural and other reforms. Going forward, due consideration should be given to monitoring and evaluation of any reforms arising from the review, including through the ongoing participation of relevant stakeholders outside of government. The government could also reflect on the success of the process of the review, particularly the impact of engagement strategies, and the technology used for developing insights and analysis.

It is also unclear how the review will impact other open government reforms. A review of federally held information-access laws, policies, and practices was part of Commitment 8 in NAP1. That commitment followed several government-commissioned reviews on information-handling by the Australian Public Service, as informed by contributions from government, business, and civil society. [58] In the following Progress Report, the IRM noted:

The need for a comprehensive review into information management and access to government information laws and practice has been widely recognised. However, given the potentially broad scope and complexity of the issues that have or might arise in any such review, a more detailed and specific program for consultation should be developed and made public, and include the identification of available resources and relationship with other OGP commitments. [59]

Similarly, Commitment 15 of the first national action plan, and Commitment 6 in this national action plan, provided a framework to improve public engagement by the federal APS. While the terms of reference for the APS review refers to the need for public engagement during its review, and briefly references the need for transparency in the use of taxpayers’ money, it does not specifically reference OGP values in reforming public service. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the APS review will impact open governance reforms.


[48] Dept. of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, “National Innovation and Science Agenda Report” (Nov. 2015), https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/national-innovation-and-science-agenda-report.
[49] Dept. of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, “Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation” (Nov. 2017), https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/australia-2030-prosperity-through-innovation.
[50] Id. at 72–73.
[51] Dept. of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, “Government Response to Innovation and Science Australia’s 'Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation’ Report” (May 2018), https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/government-response-to-innovation-and-science-australias-australia-2030-prosperity-through-innovation-report.
[52] Dept. of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, “Media Release: Review of the Australian Public Service” (4  May 2018), https://pmtranscripts.pmc.gov.au/release/transcript-41613; Independent Review of the APS, “About: Terms of Reference” (accessed Jun. 2020), https://www.apsreview.gov.au/about.
[53] Independent Review of the APS, “About: Terms of Reference.”
[54] Dept. of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, “Public Submissions Open for the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service” (4 Jun. 2018), https://ministers.pmc.gov.au/odwyer/2018/public-submissions-open-independent-review-australian-public-service.
[55] David Thodey, “More Time for Submissions” (Independent Review of the APS, 11 Jul. 2018), https://www.apsreview.gov.au/news/more-time-submissions.
[56] Dept. of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, “Panel Reference Group to aid Independent Review of the APS” (12  Jul. 2018), https://ministers.pmc.gov.au/odwyer/2018/panel-reference-group-aid-independent-review-aps.
[57] Independent Review of the APS, “The Conversation Continues”(Aug. 2018), https://www.apsreview.gov.au/news/conversation-continues.
[58] Attorney-General’s Dept., “Review of Freedom of Information laws: Consultation” (1 Jul. 2013), https://www.ag.gov.au/Consultations/Pages/ReviewofFOIlaws.aspx; Dept. of Finance, “Independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation (Belcher Red Tape Review)” (2015), available at https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/awa/20160615124041/http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/reducingredtape/; Peter Shergold, “Learning from Failure: why large government policy initiatives have gone so badly wrong in the past and how the chances of success in the future can be improved” (Australian Public Service Commission, 12 Aub. 2015), http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/learning-from-failure.
[59] Daniel Stewart, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Australia Progress Report 2016–2018 (Open Government Partnership, 2018), 66, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Australia_Mid-Term_Report_2016-2018.pdf.

Commitments

  1. Strengthen Anti-Corruption Framework

    AU0016, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  2. Political Donation Transparency

    AU0017, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  3. Data Sharing

    AU0018, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Improve Public Service Practice

    AU0019, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Access to Information

    AU0020, 2018, Access to Information

  6. Enhance Public Engagement Skills in the Public Service

    AU0021, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service

    AU0022, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Expand Open Contracting

    AU0023, 2018, Access to Information

  9. Whiste-Blower Protections

    AU0001, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  10. Beneficial Ownership Transparency

    AU0002, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  11. Extractive Industries Transparency

    AU0003, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  12. Combating Corporate Crime

    AU0004, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  13. Data Innovation

    AU0005, 2016, Access to Information

  14. Public Trust in Data Sharing

    AU0006, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Digitization of Government Services

    AU0007, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Information Management and Access Laws

    AU0008, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Freedom of Information

    AU0009, 2016, Access to Information

  18. Access to Government Data

    AU0010, 2016, Access to Information

  19. Electoral System and Political Parties

    AU0011, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  20. National Integrity Framework

    AU0012, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  21. Open Contracting

    AU0013, 2016, Access to Information

  22. OGP NAP

    AU0014, 2016, Public Participation

  23. Public Participation

    AU0015, 2016, Capacity Building

Open Government Partnership