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Strategic priority four: providing stewardship of the APS

In the 2019-20 Corporate Plan, the Commission set out that it would provide stewardship of the APS by providing a voice for the service, within the APS, across Australia and Internationally. The Commission set out to highlight the APS success and leadership domestically and internationally.

Under Strategic Priority Four, three focus areas illustrated the Commission’s work to provide stewardship of the APS. The areas of focus included Communication, State of the Service Report and International.

Of the five targets set for 2019-20 three were achieved and two were partially achieved.

Performance Analysis

Communication

During 2019-20, the Commission focussed on improving the information architecture and content of its website, to ultimately improve the experience of those who engage with the Commission via the website.

Towards the end of March 2020, the Commission created a page on its website, dedicated to housing COVID-19 related messages and resources, relevant to the APS. This saw a marked increase in traffic to the website. For example, on 30 March 2020, the day after the Commissioner released updated guidance on working from home arrangements for APS employees, more than 20,000 users visited the website. This is an increase of more than 450 per cent compared to an average day.

In addition to its own social media accounts, the Commission manages social media accounts on behalf of the APS (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook). These accounts were in their infancy at the start of the 2019-20 financial year, and have grown exponentially since. The objective of the APS social media accounts, since their inception, has been to share stories of success, innovation and change across the APS.

During COVID-19, this channel has become more important than ever. It has allowed the Commission to share stories featuring APS employees who have been mobilised as part of the surge workforce, and APS agencies that have had to adapt their operating model as a result of COVID-19.

State of the Service Report

The State of the Service Report 2018-19 was tabled in both houses of Parliament on 26 November 2019 and made available on the Commission’s website. Findings were informed by the annual APS agency survey and APS Employee Census, as well as the APS Employment Database under two broad themes: culture and capability.

Interest, reach and satisfaction levels otherwise remained on par with previous years with insights from the State of the Service Report receiving widespread media coverage and commentary in November 2019. In response to the 2019 APS agency survey, 80 per cent of APS agencies reported using the State of the Service Report to develop and assess workforce policies and practices. Throughout February and March 2020, key themes from the State of the Service Report were also presented across the service at a series of roadshow events. Events scheduled in Victoria and Tasmania did not proceed due to COVID-19 impacts.

International

The Commission continued to engage with counterparts in ASEAN, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea as part of the DFAT funded Australian aid program. This program was expanded during 2019-20 to include greater engagement with the Pacific and Malaysia. The Commission partnered with other APS agencies, including the DTA and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), in the delivery of a number of program activities.

Engagement with the Pacific Public Service Commissioners’ Conference as it has transitioned to the Public Service Fono and Fale has also been a focus for the Commission’s international program.

A highlight for the period was a visit to Thailand by the Commissioner for the 3rd ASEAN Heads of Civil Service Retreat. This served as the launch pad for the Commission’s engagement with ASEAN.

Additionally, as the APS embarks on a period of significant reform, the Commission continues to look to best practice and lessons learned internationally. This has included knowledge sharing with New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) during 2019-20.

Travel restrictions and a domestic focus during COVID-19 significantly impacted the Commission’s international work during the second half of 2019-20. Where possible, activities and engagement occurred via videoconference with a particular focus on COVID-19 response and recovery.

Performance Summary

Table 12 Communication

Performance Measure

Provide the voice of the APS

Area of Focus

Communication

Approach

Promote emerging practice, pilot new approaches and provide feedback and support

Target

Number of hits and length of time on our website increases

Number of social media interactions increases

Source

Australian Public Service Commission Corporate Plan 2019-2020, p 11; 2019-20 Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio Budget Statements p. 139

Performance Achieved

Partially Achieved

  • The number of users of the Commission’s website has increased by 302,821 (28.57%).
  • The average session length of users has decreased by 20 seconds (12.67%) from 2:38 minutes per session to 2:18 minutes per session – which is potentially the result of improving the information architecture and content on the website.

Achieved

  • The number of followers across the Commission’s social media platforms has increased by 5,782 (59.89%).
  • The number of followers across the Australian Public Service social media platforms has increased by 18,856 (220.31%).

Table 13 State of the Service Report

Performance Measure

Provide the voice of the APS

Area of Focus

State of the Service Report

Approach

Promote emerging practice, pilot new approaches and provide feedback and support

Target

Commentary associated with the report’s release and website hits indicate influence of the report

Source

Australian Public Service Commission Corporate Plan 2019-2020, p 11; 2019-20 Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio Budget Statements p. 139

Performance Achieved

Achieved

The State of the Service Report has been accessed online more than 15,000 times since its release in November 2019, demonstrating sustained and a comparable level of interest against the previous year.

Table 14 Provide the Voice of the APS – International

Performance Measure

Provide the voice of the APS

Area of Focus

International

Approach

Promote emerging practice, pilot new approaches and provide feedback and support

Target

Programs deliver on outcomes as agreed with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Requests from international partners to share information on policies and practices increase

Source

Australian Public Service Commission Corporate Plan 2019-2020, p 11; 2019-20 Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio Budget Statements p. 139

Performance Achieved

Partially Achieved

We continued to deliver on agreed activities with counterparts in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Singapore and commenced engagement with ASEAN and Malaysia. We continued our engagement with the OECD and high level engagement with counterparts with New Zealand and across the Pacific.

Work against the planned program was significantly impacted during the second half of 2019-20 by COVID-19. Restrictions on travel and the focus on supporting our respective public services respond to COVID-19 resulted in numerous activities being postponed or cancelled. Where possible we adapted to deliver activities through videoconferencing.

Achieved

Despite disruptions to planned international engagements, information sharing with international partners on policies and practices did increase compared to last year. For example, there were 18 information sharing activities as part of the Commission’s DFAT funded programs in 2019-20 compared to 6 activities in the previous year.