Review into Australia's Public Service now awaits government response

The final report of the review into the public service has been submitted to the Australian government.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor on

After considering 755 submissions and 814 online comments; holding more than 400 meetings, workshops, and information sessions in communities across every state and territory; and conducting numerous surveys and research, the final report of the review into Australia's Public Service (APS) has been submitted to the federal government.  

The review, chaired by CSIRO chairman David Thodey and launched by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, was to mainly understand whether those staffing Australia's government departments are capable of ushering in the "next wave" of digital.

Specifically, the review examined the capability, culture, and operating model of the APS.

In anticipation of the final report last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the review, which has been received by Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Phil Gaetjens, will "evaluate the review's recommendations and to report to Cabinet on relevant issues and findings".

"It's been a big undertaking. And it's been a fair dinkum effort," Morrison said

It is however, unknown when the government will provide a response to the final report.

The submission of the final report follows on from findings of the review that were released in March. It underscored that moving the APS to a more common way of operating -- a "stable spine of common digital platforms" -- would facilitate the change needed where collaboration and digital capability within the APS, along with the introduction of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) for service delivery are concerned.

The APS comprises of 18 departments of state, more than 100 agencies and authorities, and over 150,000 employees. Over 62% of the workforce is located outside Canberra.

There are currently over 170 bespoke IT systems being separately managed and maintained across the APS to deliver corporate services. There is also in excess of 200 bespoke business processes across government agencies with little coordination.

See also: Digital transformation: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Thodey had previously said for the APS to be capable of delivering on the expectations of the future, public-private partnerships -- as well as inter-government collaboration -- will be key.

At the time, he noted technology could be the enabler and driver of the future of the public service.

"Digital comes with risks and I have always argued we need to look closely at them, talk about them openly and see what we can do to manage them better," he said.


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