Policy Forum Pod Extra: Making the public service fit for the future

An inside look into the Australian Public Service review

David Williamson, Sue Regan

Government and governance | Australia

27 November 2018

In this special Policy Forum Pod Extra, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet David Williamson discusses the Australian Public Service review and what it’ll take to make the country’s policy machinery fit for purpose.

What will it take to make the Australian Public Service fit for the future? That was the key question addressed by David Williamson, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and leader of the team supporting the Australian Public Service review panel. He spoke during Thursday’s Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) ACT Future Leaders Series finale 2018, hosted at Crawford School of Public Policy. This podcast is a recording of that speech and is hosted by Sue Regan. Listen here: https://simplecast.com/s/45aa412b


As the leader of team that supports the review panel, Mr Williamson talked about the high expectations and difficult questions surrounding the review.

“Some of the questions that keep coming up in this review are: How much of what needs to happen in or for the public service actually needs formal agreement from anyone? How much is more about getting on with things and doing what you’re supposed to do? And how much of it has already been called out in previous reviews?

“Our panel has looked at 2030 and asked: Firstly, what could a fit-for-purpose APS look like by then and secondly, what might it mean for the APS?”

Mr Williamson made clear that the APS was facing a range of issues: from becoming too reactive, lacking in confidence, not fulfilling potential, to struggling to attract, retain and nurture people the APS needs.

“Even though that is a pretty gloomy list, we’ve also found that that is not the case everywhere. In fact, we’re really interested in the examples of excellence across the service and understanding why and how we might help extrapolate them.”

During his speech, Mr Williamson also encouraged members of the public service to get involved and take matters into their own hands.

“Don’t sit on the sidelines and complain. Get involved and don’t wait for the review. Don’t wait for David Thodey to hand down whatever is going to be handed down. If something can be done now, why wait for the review?”

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

Institute of Public Administration Australia Future Leaders Program

Podcast: Is Australia’s policy machinery fit for purpose? – with Glyn Davis and Helen Sullivan

Policy Forum Pod is available on iTunesSpotifyStitcher, and wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or find us on Facebook.

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