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ANZSOG research for the 2019 APS Review

ANZSOG research papers commissioned by the 2019 Independent Review of the Australian Public Service


The Independent Review of the Australian Public Service, chaired by David Thodey, was established in 2018 by the Australian Government to ensure the APS was fit-for-purpose for the coming decades.

The Review delivered its final report in December 2019 and identified an ambitious program of transformational reforms. These will enable the APS to best serve the Australian government and people: providing security, driving productivity and jobs in the economy, improving citizens’ experience of government, and delivering fair and equitable support where it is most needed.

ANZSOG was commissioned by the Review to provide a range of research papers on key issues facing the APS over coming decades, to inform the Review’s deliberations. We engaged our network of academics and practitioners to produce papers which drew together research and provided up-to-date expert perspectives on these issues. The papers represent the opinion of the authors and the authors alone, and are not official views of the Review Panel, of the Review Secretariat, of any member of the expert reference panels, or of ANZSOG.

The APS needs to be apolitical and professional, agile, innovative and efficient — driving both policy and implementation through coherent, collaborative, whole-of-government approaches. It must have the capability to meet core responsibilities and deliver functions, and to understand and deploy technology and data to drive improvement.

ANZSOG is proud to be contributing to that goal and is proud to present these papers as a resource for the broader debate around public management in Australia.

ANZSOG also produced two submissions to the APS review. The first submission outlined its views on the current and future challenges facing the APS and identifies nine priority areas for the review to consider. The second explored how the APS could change the Public Service Act 1999 to incorporate First Peoples knowledge and approaches into the core values and ways of working of the federal public service.

Read the reports:

1. The APS’ relationship with Ministers and their offices

One of the key functions of the APS is how it interacts with ministers, and the nature and quality of that relationship affects the quality of public administration. This paper explores those interactions, how they have changed over time, and explores a new vision of the APS which is open to the community and synthesises and communicates information drawn from all stakeholders to Ministers and government. Under this model there will be clearer lines of distinction between politics and public administration but, because the APS will be smart, innovative, imaginative and adaptive, it will also more effectively engage in the business of government.

Download paper:  Being a trusted and respected partner the APS relationship with Ministers and their offices

2. Evaluation and learning from failure and success

A systematic approach to high-quality evaluation of policies and programs embedded in APS agencies, and learning from their own and others’ successes and failures, is pivotal to effective and efficient public sector management. This paper discusses the evaluation capacity and capability of the APS and how it can adopt a sustained approach to learning from successes and failures. It outlines the need for a cultural shift and an institutional framework that embeds the strategic importance and processes of institutional learning.

Download paper:  Evaluation and learning from failure and success


Appendix A: Evaluation and learning from failure and success

Evaluation of government policies and programs is critical to the quality and impact of public policy, but the potential gains from evaluation and other forms for feedback on performance will only be realised if there is learning capacity within institutions. This learning capacity should permit, and even encourage, an openness to both continual and ad-hoc learning from experience, other jurisdictions within the federation, and abroad. This short paper examines the state of the art of such institutional learning capacity within the APS. It refers back to appendices B and C and also looks forward to the second phase Evaluation and learning from failure and success paper.

Download paper:  Appendix A Evaluation and learning

Appendix B: Evaluation in the Australian Public Service: current state of play, some issues and future directions

Evaluation of government policies and programs is recognised as being critical to the efficiency and effectiveness of public policy and for accountability. This paper provides an overview of perspectives on the role and management of evaluation and its place in public sector approaches to accountability and performance management in Australia and overseas. It concludes by raising a series of questions focused on potential reforms to these processes in Australia.

Download paper:  Appendix B Evaluation in the APS

Appendix C: Governing by looking back: learning from successes and failures

This paper examines how governments investigate and learn in a more ad-hoc fashion, from parts of their past that already have become labelled as a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’ in professional, public and political arenas. Learning from failures aims to avoid its repetition, while learning from success aims to determine what can be emulated and transplanted. The main argument of the paper is that there is a structural imbalance that sees the APS more concerned with failure than success and that this has potentially negative consequences for policy.

Download paper:  Appendix C Governing by looking back

3. The APS integrity framework

The APS can be a true, global leader and a trusted and respected partner by establishing a pro-integrity framework that specifically promotes ‘institutional integrity’. The core of such a framework is the promotion of four institutional qualities: purpose, legitimacy, fulfilling commitments, and robustness. This paper examines the concept of integrity and the possibility of developing a framework that integrates performance, capability and effectiveness with integrity.

Download paper:  Being a trusted and respected partner the APS integrity framework

4. 2030 and beyond: getting the work of government done

This paper explores APS commissioning and contracting and how it deploys these tools to pursue outcomes. It sets out a vision for an APS that has transitioned from a procurement mindset and adopted approaches that allow it to fully leverage the potential within the APS, and has the capability to design and steward complex systems, in pursuit of better outcomes.

Download paper:  2030 and beyond getting the work of government done

5: Working better with other jurisdictions

An appraisal of the way in which the APS partners with other jurisdictions, and Australia’s First Nations. The authors argue the APS  needs to develop the capability and trust to support developing national approaches in which each participating jurisdiction makes a contribution, conscious that it is operating as part of an overall national endeavour in a federated Australia.

Download paper:  Working better with other jurisdictions

6: Delivering local solutions

Investigates the strengths and weaknesses of the APS’ current approach to delivering local solutions to communities. The authors argue that a range of services need to be shaped with communities in new, co-governed ways, if we are to see any substantial and sustained improvement in local solutions.

Download paper:  Delivering local solutions


Associate Professor Catherine Althaus

Catherine Althaus is an Associate Professor in the School of Social and Political Sciences, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne and the ANZSOG Deputy Dean (Teaching and Learning). She has a passion for creatively serving the public interest as a practitioner-academic. Her academic training is in economics and politics and public policy.

Before coming to ANZSOG, she spent nine years teaching and researching in Canada, culminating in her position as Director of the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Prior to that, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Australian National University, and she held a number of policy posts with the Queensland Treasury department and Queensland Office of the Cabinet.

Associate Professor Althaus continues to act as a curriculum, economics and public policy consultant for a range of clients across Australia and Canada. She has been a co-author of popular textbook  The Australian Policy Handbook since its fourth edition in 2007. Since 2017 she has been an editor of the  Australian Journal of Public Administration.

Catherine is a University Medallist and has won several awards, including the 2012 Sam Richardson Award for the most influential article in the  Australian Journal of Public Administration, and an Australia Day Medallion for service to the Queensland Treasury.

Dr Rob Bray

Dr Rob Bray PSM joined the ANU in 2010 after a long career in the Australian Public Service. At the ANU he has been a key player in a range of evaluations including of income management policies in the Northern Territory, the Case Coordination trial by the Department of Human Services and several projects relating to employment services. His public service career involved working as a researcher, policy analyst, advisor, program developer and administrator, across a range of social policy fields including employment policies, the provision of residential care for the aged, housing and urban policy. His work within government on evaluation spans the 1982 Wage Pause Program through to the 2008-09 Pension Review as part of the ‘Australia’s Future Tax System’ review. In recognition of his work, in particular with regard to the analysis of poverty in Australia, he was awarded the Public Service Medal in 2010.

Professor Michael Crommelin AO

Professor Michael Crommelin is Zelman Cowen Professor of Law in the University of Melbourne. He holds the degrees of BA and LLB (Hons) from the University of Queensland, and LLM and PhD from the University of British Columbia. He was dean of the Melbourne Law School from 1989 until 2007, and in 2010. He has held visiting academic appointments at the University of British Columbia, Georgetown University, the University of Virginia, and l’Université Panthéon-Assas Paris II.

His teaching and research interests are in constitutional law, mineral law and petroleum law. He teaches several courses in the Melbourne JD and the Melbourne Law Masters programs including Constitutional Law (JD), Mineral and Petroleum Law (MLM) and Resources Joint Ventures (MLM).

He was admitted as an Australian lawyer in 1969, has been a member of the American Law Institute since 1998, and was elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in 2010.  In 2009 he was appointed an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for service to the law and legal education.

Dr Jacob Deem

Dr Jacob Deem is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Griffith University’s Business School. His research expertise includes the principle of subsidiarity and local governance, federalism and intergovernmental relations, and the machinery of government. Jacob is especially interested in how governing institutions and systems reflect community values, attitudes, and beliefs, and he has published several articles and chapters on this issue is a range of domestic and international journals and books. Jacob also teaches Australian politics as a sessional academic for Griffith’s School of Government and International Relations.

Professor Matthew Gray

Professor Matthew Gray is Director of the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods. Previous positions include Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Director of Research for the College of Arts and Social Sciences and Deputy Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies (2005–2010). He has published research on a wide range of social and economic policy issues. Professor Gray has extensive experience evaluating major government policies and programs including the 2006 changes to the family law system, income management in the Northern Territory, the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, Work for the Dole 2014-15 Pilot, the impact of active labour market programs for Indigenous Australians, and the use of Family Impact Statements in Cabinet processes. During 2004-05 Professor Gray was a member of the Ministerial Taskforce on Child Support.

Dr Ian Holland

Dr Ian Holland is Director of consultancy company Hamilton Stone. He has 30 years of experience and leadership in policy and politics. He focuses on policy analysis, organisational capacity-building, design and implementation of reviews, and building the case for change. Ian is a Senior Research Fellow with the Policy Innovation Hub at Griffith University. He has worked in parliament, the public sector, not-for-profit organisations and universities. He has published research and opinion on Australian politics, community engagement, organisational design, parliamentary processes, public sector reform, and policy theory and practice.

Nikolas Kirby

Nikolas Kirby is Director of the Building Integrity Program at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. This project aims to conduct interdisciplinary research on conditions required to build and reinforce integrity in government, and the factors that contribute to failures of government integrity. It also seeks to engage practitioners in translating theory into public policy practice. He is also Research Fellow in Philosophy and Public Policy, and currently holds a three-year research Early Career Research Fellowship awarded by the Leverhulme Trust. His research focuses on trust and integrity, building legitimacy in government, and basic equality. He has worked in law, academia and politics in Australia.

Carmel McGregor PSM 

Carmel McGregor is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra, a non-executive Director and Fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) and a private consultant. She was formerly a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Defence until 2014, and served as Deputy Australian Public Service Commissioner where she was a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Group on Reform of Australian Government Administration (Blueprint).

She was Australia’s representative and Vice Chair of the OECD’s Public Governance Committee from 2008–2012. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, a Fellow of the Institute of

Public Administration Australia, Vice President of the Institute of Public Administration Australia in the ACT, and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is also a member of the Northern Territory Chief Minister’s Advisory Group on Defence.

In October 2012 Carmel was selected as the inaugural Woman of Influence Public Policy in the Financial Review/Westpac 100 Women of Influence.  Also in October 2012, Carmel was awarded an ANZSOG Public Service Excellence Award Honorary Adjunct Professorship.  Carmel is the recipient of a Public Service Medal in the Australia Day 2013 Honours List.

Professor Janine O’Flynn

Professor Janine O’Flynn is ANZSOG Professor of Public Management, and Professor of Public Management, University of Melbourne. Her research interests are in public management and, in particular, reform and relationships, covering topics as diverse as the creation and evolution of public service markets and devising effective performance management systems. Since 2015 she has been an editor of the Australian Journal of Public Administration and sits on the editorial boards of several other journals in the field including  In 2018 she joined the Apolitical Future of Government Editorial Board. She has extensive experience working with experienced professionals from across the world in both executive education and postgraduate programs and has provided expert advice to a range of policy makers including in Australia, Chile, Bhutan, the United States, and Singapore. She was appointed a fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria) in 2013 and between 2012-2018 was an elected member of the executive board of the International Research Society for Public Management. In 2018 she joined the Advisory Board of the Australian Public Service Centre for Leadership and Learning.

Ben Rimmer

Ben Rimmer was Chief Executive Officer of the City of Melbourne from February 2015 to December 2018. In that role, he led the City of Melbourne administration in supporting the Lord Mayor and councillors as they delivered the community’s vision of a bold, inspirational and sustainable city.

Prior to joining the City of Melbourne, Ben was the Associate Secretary in the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services in Canberra. He has also worked for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet where he was Deputy Secretary, and the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet. Before joining the public sector he worked with private sector clients in Boston Consulting Group’s London and Melbourne offices.

He is a board member of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), a National Fellow of IPAA, and a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has honours degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Melbourne, and an MBA with distinction from the University of Oxford. In 2014 he was the recipient of the James Wolfensohn Public Service Scholarship to study at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government.

Professor Cheryl Saunders AO

Professor Cheryl Saunders is a Laureate Professor Emeritus at Melbourne Law School where she specialises in Australian and comparative public law, including Australian and comparative federalism, on which she has written widely. She is a Director of Studies of the Government Law specialisation in the Melbourne Law Masters, a Convenor of the Constitution Transformation Network and the founding Director of the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies. At earlier stages in her career, Cheryl Saunders has been President of the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies, of the International Association of Constitutional Law and of the Administrative Review Council of Australia.

In 1994, Cheryl Saunders was made an officer of the Order of Australia, for services to the law and to public administration.  She was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2003, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Cordoba, Argentina in 2005. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.

Professor Gary Sturgess

Professor Gary Sturgess holds the NSW Premier’s ANZSOG Chair in Public Service Delivery at the University of NSW, and is Professor of Public Service Innovation at Griffith University. He has spent 25 years studying public service contracting, including seven years as a non-executive director of a large British public service company, and eight years as executive director of a corporate think tank researching public service markets. He helped to establish the first industry association in the UK representing the public service industry, the Public Services Strategy Board in the Confederation of British Industry, and served as board adviser for eight years. Since returning to Australia in 2011, his research has focused on the commissioning of public services from public, private and not-for-profit providers. He has advised national and sub-national governments and parliamentary committees in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and currently chairs the Commissioning and Contestability Advisory Board, advising the NSW Minister for Corrections on the re-commissioning of NSW prisons. He is the former Director General of the NSW Cabinet Office and has served on a number of public sector boards over the years.

Professor Paul ‘t Hart

Professor Paul ‘t Hart is Professor of Public Administration at Utrecht University, Associate Dean of the Netherlands School of Public Administration and a core faculty member of ANZSOG. He was Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University from 2005-10. His research, teaching and training has been in the areas of public and political leadership, crisis management and the dynamics of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ in government. On the latter subject he currently holds an Advanced Grant from the European Science Foundation and the first major publications from this research program include two books of case studies of policy successes: M. Compton and P. ‘t Hart (eds), Great Policy Successes (Oxford University Press 2019) and J. Luetjens, M. Mintrom and P. ‘t Hart (eds), Public Policy Successes in Australia and New Zealand (ANU Press 2019). He has extensive experience in advising governments and as a member of various government review and evaluation commissions in the Netherlands. He has extensive experience in advising governments and as a member of various government review and evaluation commissions in the Netherlands.

Professor Anne Tiernan

Professor Anne Tiernan is Dean (Engagement) for the Griffith Business School, Griffith University. A political scientist, with earlier careers in government in the Commonwealth and Queensland, and in teaching and consultancy, she is respected for her independent, professional and research-informed analysis and commentary on national politics, public administration and public policy. She consults regularly to Australian governments at all levels. Her research focuses on the work of governing. Her scholarly interests include: Australian politics and governance, policy advice, executive studies, policy capacity, federalism and intergovernmental coordination. She has published extensively on the political-administrative interface, caretaker conventions, governmental transitions and the work of policy advising.

Professor Tiernan is a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia and a Fellow of ANZSOG. She is Chair of the Queensland Independent Remuneration Tribunal and an Ordinary Commissioner of the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Simone Webbe

Simone Webbe is a Barrister and former senior public servant with significant public sector reform experience in legislation and implementation of post-Fitzgerald Inquiry reforms in Queensland. She has subsequently been appointed to conduct independent reviews of public integrity systems, integrity bodies or public accountability frameworks in practice, and has recommended further reform to successive state governments on issues of good governance, right to information and police misconduct. She is currently an advisor to the Interim Administrator of the Ipswich City Council following the 2018 parliamentary dismissal of the local government mayor and councillors after the findings of the Crime and Corruption Commission into culture and corruption risks, and governance failures. She has extensive public sector experience in constitutional and public law, governance, accountability, anti-corruption and integrity reforms, and recently undertook a Strategic Review of the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman.