Radical new structure proposed for the ACT public service

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Radical new structure proposed for the ACT public service

Posted 18/02/2011 by Nicholas Horne

A recently-released review of the ACT public service (ACTPS) has made an unusual recommendation: the abolition of the existing public service structure and the re-establishment of the ACTPS as a single agency. The proposed single agency would comprise a Chief Minister’s Department and several directorates covering portfolio responsibilities. The ACTPS employs around 20 000 staff and comprises nine departments and various agencies.

The review found that the ACTPS is ‘not broken’ and in many respects ‘is at the forefront of leading practice’, but also concludes that a single agency structure would be a better model for government in the ACT. The review notes that current ACTPS structures are derived from the Commonwealth public service, and proposes that ‘it is time to recalibrate those structures and ways of working to suit the demands of Canberra’s city state government’.

The review also considers other matters including service-delivery coordination and performance and accountability mechanisms. A number of other recommendations are made concerning governance, priority setting, ACTPS workforce capability, and implementation of the review.

In its response to the review the ACT Government has stated that it accepts ‘the wisdom of the report in its totality’ and will set up an implementation taskforce within the ACTPS. The review was commissioned by the ACT Government in September 2010 and was conducted by former Commonwealth departmental secretary Dr Allan Hawke AC. The aim of the Review was to ensure that the structure of the ACTPS was suitable for ‘meeting the broad-ranging needs of government’ and for implementing the government’s agenda, especially as regards ‘major priorities such as sustainability, housing affordability and transport’.

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