Major public service restructure announced

by Chloe Taylor21 Jul 2015
Up to five layers of management will be discarded at some Commonwealth departments and agencies, according to The Canberra Times.

The changes will come as a part of the government’s newly released management manifesto, which was drawn up as a result of recommendations from Tony Shepherd’s commission of audit last year.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) released its new management structure guide for federal agencies, which will affect around 160,000 employees.

According to the documents, the APSC is attempting to eradicate the public service’s “top heavy” system, and have given departments three years to overhaul their management methods.

Under the new framework, an employee’s higher classification will not automatically place them on a higher tier of management.

“A layer should not be viewed automatically as one job classification level reporting upwards to the next classification level,” the documents reportedly said.

Those who were managing fewer than seven workers would need to prove that their teams were working in complex or technical roles in order to maintain their management status.

According to The Times, the number of management layer within agencies was “ideally” between five and seven.

This will affect some employers within the APS more than others – for example, the Department of Defence has been known to have up to twelve management tiers.

The APSC guide was devised by a team of deputy secretaries, who were instructed to focus on “efficiency”, but it was made clear that there was no one-size-fits-all approach.

It was also suggested that management layers could be condensed so that managers “may have a number of direct reports… all in one layer”.

Agencies have been given until 2018 to conduct self-assessments and develop a management plan – but the APSC expressed some concern around managers given more staff to control.

“Increased numbers of direct reports require increased management capabilities and increased management functions for managers,” the guide said. “Agencies that do not develop this capability and account for this change could jeopardise the sustainability of revised structures and limit the benefits of change.”

It was also noted that management restructures should not be designed solely for financial savings.

“Overly complex management structures are expensive, but the imperative to change is not cost,” the guide continued.

Departments should instead be striving for “improved decision making, accountability and communication”, as well as “maximised resource use, encouraging innovation and supporting capacity for change”.

“More direct reports and fewer layers can improve accountability,” the guide said. “This can lead to improved decision making and faster business response times.”


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