What is the public sector?
The term ‘public sector’ refers broadly to the entities that exist and people employed for public purpose. The public sector supports all three arms of government - the ‘executive’ arm (the Government of the day), the ‘legislature’ (Parliament) and the ‘judiciary’ (judges of the various courts). For more information on this, visit Structure of the Western Australian government of our Public Sector Induction page.
The Western Australian public sector can be considered as comprising of a number of categories:
- Public service departments – primarily responsible for providing policy advice and administrative support to its minister. Employees in a department are part of the ‘public service’. Public service departments are established, divided, abolished and renamed under s. 35 of the PSM Act by the Governor on the recommendation of the Public Sector Commissioner.
- SES organisations – established under a written law to perform specific statutory functions, generally responsible through a board to the minister. SES organisations are specified in Schedule 2 of the PSM Act. Chief executives and members of the senior executive service employed within a SES organisation are part of the ‘public service’. Other employees are considered to be part of the general ‘public sector’.
- Non-SES organisations – like SES organisations, are established under a written law to perform specific statutory functions, generally responsible through a board to the minister. All employees are considered to be part of the general ‘public sector’.
- Other organisations – the remaining organisations constituted by law to undertake specific public functions. They tend to operate somewhat at arm’s length from their minister and Government and in a commercial/semi-commercial environment. Organisations in Schedule 1 of the PSM Act are not considered to be part of the public sector for the purposes of that Act.
- Independent offices – offices or agencies that, by having a direct reporting relationship to Parliament, operate at distance from the government of the day. The office holder is generally appointed by the Governor and supported in his or her operations by a department or other non-SES organisation. Examples include the Office of the Auditor General, Public Sector Commission and the Corruption and Crime Commission.
Page last updated 7 September 2019