Referral of inquiry and terms of reference
On 20 August 2015, the Senate referred matters relating to the
capability of Defence's physical science and engineering (PSE) workforce to the
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report
by the last sitting day in March 2016.
On 15 March 2016, the Senate extended the reporting date of the inquiry to 1
The terms of reference for the inquiry are as follows:
The capability of Defence's
physical science and engineering (PSE) workforce, with particular reference to:
- the importance of the
PSE workforce to Defence projects;
- the current PSE
capability within Defence, the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) and the
Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO);
- the potential risks of
a skills shortage in the PSE workforce and a decline in Defence's PSE
- the ability of Defence
to have relevant PSE capabilities to meet future technological needs;
- the ability of new
technologies discovered by the PSE workforce to be incorporated into Australia's
defence capability planning;
- the effect of project
outsourcing on Defence's PSE capability;
- the ability to attract
and retain a highly skilled PSE workforce in Defence, DMO and DSTO; and
- any other related
Conduct of inquiry
The committee advertised its inquiry on its website and in The
Australian, calling for submissions to be lodged by 16 October 2015. The
committee also wrote directly to a range of people and organisations likely to
have an interest in matters covered by the terms of reference, drawing their
attention to the inquiry and inviting them to make written submissions.
The committee received 34 submissions to the inquiry. Submissions
are listed at Appendix 1 and are available on the committee's website
at: www.aph.gov.au/senate_fadt. A few submissions from individuals, generally
currently employed Defence officers, have been accepted as 'name withheld'.
The committee held public hearings for the inquiry at Parliament House
in Canberra on 17 November 2015 and 5 February 2016. Responses to questions on
notice from the public hearings are listed at Appendix 2. The witnesses
at those public hearings are listed at Appendix 3.
Structure of the report
The committee's report is in five chapters. Chapter 2 provides a
background to the inquiry including relevant previous reviews and recent policy
changes relevant to the Defence PSE workforce. Chapter 3 includes the issues
raised during the inquiry regarding terms of reference (a), (b) and (c). It
also deals with workforce planning issues. Chapter 4 discusses issues raised
regarding the remaining terms of reference. Chapter 5 contains the committee's
conclusion and recommendations.
Different contributors to the inquiry have used different definitions of
Defence's PSE workforce. While the committee has received some evidence from
those that have used broader definitions, it has focused on those roles encompassed
by the non-SES work level standards of the Physical Science and Engineering
stream within the Defence Classification Manual.
The terms of reference of the inquiry refer to the Defence Materiel
Organisation (DMO) and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).
As a result of the departmental changes in 2015, the committee has focused on
the successor parts of Defence, the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment
Group (CASG) and the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG).
The committee thanks all those who contributed to the inquiry by making
submissions, providing additional information or appearing at the public
hearings to give evidence.
Note on references
References to the committee Hansard are to the proof Hansard.
Page numbers may vary between the proof and the official Hansard
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