Machinery of government

The Western Australian public sector supports the government of the day in serving the Western Australian community. The 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. Examples include the Department of the Attorney General, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Department of Commerce. Employees in a department are part of the ‘public service’. Public service departments are established, divided, abolished and renamed under s35 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994, by the Governor on the recommendation of the Public Sector Commissioner. 
  • SES organisations – are established under a written law to perform specific statutory functions, generally responsible through a board to the Minister. A SES organisation must be so specified in Schedule 2 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994. Examples include the Rottnest Island Authority, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Tourism WA. 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 – are, like SES organisations, established under a written law to perform specific statutory functions, generally responsible through a board to the Minister. Examples include Forest Products Commission, Swan River Trust, WA Sports Centre Trust, Legal Aid Commission. All employees are considered to be part of the general ‘public sector’.
  • Other organisations– are the remaining bodies and organisations that are 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. By way of inclusion in Schedule 1 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 are not considered to be part of the public sector for the purposes of that Act. These include trading enterprises such as Water Corporation, port authorities, LandCorp. It also includes other bodies such as the Independent Market Operator, Police Force, courts and tribunals, electorate offices and the Governors Establishment.
  • Independent Offices – are 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, Parliamentary Commissioner for Administrative Investigations, Public Sector Commissioner, Corruption and Crime Commission, Office of the Information Commissioner, Commissioner for Children and Young People.

The Commissioner also provides advice to the Government on appropriate machinery of government changes to achieve and maintain operational responsiveness and flexibility.

The Public Sector Commission provides advice and support to agencies during machinery of government changes.


Page last updated 26 July 2013