Strengthening our capability

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Body text for: Analysis of performance against purpose - Strategic priority 05 - Strengthening our capability

Our work to improve the skills and leadership of staff ensures that the Department has the capability to deliver outcomes that support our purpose.

Table 2.6 Performance criteria outcomes





We demonstrate high level, strategic leadership and corporate citizenship across Government, the portfolio and within the Department. We will create opportunities for our people to demonstrate outstanding public sector leadership skills at all levels. We work to embed a culture of collaboration, innovation, high performance and respect.

Design and deliver capability development programs that increase individual and organisational leadership, management, and public policy and program management skills

Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 13


The Executive Leadership Team is focused on developing the leadership capabilities of our staff and the culture of the Department

Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 13


We continue to be an early adopter and user of effective and innovative technologies. We will continue to recruit, develop and retain skilled and motivated staff. We ensure our corporate functions provide systems and processes which support the delivery of our strategic priorities and will strengthen our business planning, prioritisation, resourcing and performance management processes. Our organisation supports continuous learning.

The Department leads the way across the Australian Public Service (APSDefinition:Australian Public Service) in effective and innovative use of leading-edge information and communications technologies, and flexible work practices

Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 13


We will continue to improve our capability in designing rules-based regulation and other market interventions to deliver effective policy outcomes. Focusing on this capability enhances the quality of our advice to the Government on ‘best fit’ regulatory solutions to policy issues.

The Department provides regulatory solutions which are best fit and the Department provides high quality advice

Corporate Plan 2016–17, p. 13


Over the year:

  • Our Office of the General Counsel arranged training for policy and legal officers on best practice regulation and contributed to whole-of-government information sharing through the Senior Executive Service Working Group of Regulation Reform hosted by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  • We provided regulatory solutions relating to media reform, telecommunications reforms, spectrum management and interactive gambling.

Over the year we continued to invest in a wide range of development programs and initiatives that build individual and collective capability, including leadership and management, public policy, quality conversations and performance training, program and project management, addressing unconscious bias, stakeholder engagement, writing for Parliament, about the Budget and about Parliament.

We measure the effectiveness of these programs through staff participation, feedback and data from the 2017 Australian Public Service (APS) employee census.

APS census results indicate that staff believe the courses offered by the Department support effective learning. They also show we are 15 per cent above the APS average and 7 per cent above the average for policy agencies in terms of staff agreeing or strongly agreeing there is access to effective learning and development.

Organisational culture

In 2016–17, we held a number of activities to contribute to organisational culture, including: the Secretary’s Leadership Seminar Series, an ‘Ideas Incubator’, debates and hypotheticals, Reward and Recognition Program (#thankyou) events, and the development and launch of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

These activities created opportunities for our people to demonstrate public sector leadership skills and enhance our collaborative and innovative organisational culture. Effective leadership and organisational culture underpins and supports all departmental strategic objectives.

APS census results show that in comparison to the APS as a whole, our departmental staff are more engaged with their job, team, supervisor and agency.

Our staff rate the quality, visibility, communications, alignment of work effort and change leadership of their immediate Senior Executive Service (SESDefinition:Senior Executive Service) manager well above the APS benchmark (from +11 to +18 per cent). Staff also rate the senior leadership of all SES above the APS benchmark (+3 to +7 per cent).

Our staff are also more positive than their APS peers in relation to workplace culture: respect for colleagues (+6 per cent), consultation about change (+12 per cent), work–life balance (+11 per cent) and demonstration of the APS Values (+7 to +13 per cent).

Flexible working arrangements and the use of leading edge technologies

During the year, we reviewed our Flexible Work Policy to better leverage opportunities for increased flexibility. Some 17 per cent of staff have formal flexible working arrangements in place, a similar percentage to the 2015–16 rate. This is expected to increase with the implementation of the revised Flexible Work Policy and as better data are captured about informal flexible work arrangements.

In 2016–17, we delivered a number of new internal information and communications technology (ICTDefinition:information and communications technology) services. These services improved the agility of the organisation, provided enhanced user access, simplified user services, and increased financial or sustainability efficiencies in support of departmental and whole-of-government outcomes. Our technology solutions will be a key enabler of flexible work practices that support organisational requirements as we transition to the Nishi building in 2017–18.

We measure the effectiveness of our ICT systems and flexible working arrangements through staff participation, feedback and data from the 2017 APS census. The APS census indicates an increase of 5 per cent in staff who are satisfied or very satisfied with access to flexible working arrangements compared to the previous year.