Administration of Public Sector Commissioner's Circulars

Purpose

Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars are instruments issued by the Public Sector Commissioner to communicate public sector management policy or arrangements or mandatory compliance obligations that do not originate from the Public Sector Commissioner’s functions or the PSMA.

Authority

Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars are issued by the Public Sector Commissioner in carrying out his functions under Section 21A of the Public Sector Management Act (1994), (the Act) which requires among other things, the Commissioner to “promote the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the Public Sector, having regard to the principles set out in Section 7

It is the responsibility of Chief Executive Officers to remain informed of Circular content, comply with their directions and disseminate information to relevant staff.

Application

Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars should apply to all entities covered by the Act, that is all entities created under statute for a public purpose except for those listed in Schedule 1 to the Act.  Departments and statutory authorities, both SES and non-SES, are thus included but Government Enterprises, courts and tribunals and others, such as universities are excluded.

If it is intended that a particular Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular should apply to one or more of the entities listed in Schedule 1, then the relevant Minister/s may be able to issue the policy as a directive or instruction. The originating agency will need to ensure that:

  • the Schedule 1 entity (or entities) to which the Circular is intended to apply is constituted under an Act which provides the relevant Minister with the power to give directions or instructions;
  • the content of the circular falls within the scope of matters on which the Minister can direct or instruct the entity;
  • Cabinet approval is obtained for the Circular content to be applicable to the entity or entities;
  • arrangements are made for the Circular to be forwarded to the relevant Minister/s for issuing as a direction or instruction.

Possible exemptions

There are situations where a specific public sector entity may be exempt from a particular Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular. This could occur for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • A Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular may identify a specific sub-set of public sector entities to which the Circular applies, or it may specify that certain entities are exempt from compliance. 
  • A Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular may detail a specific process by which public sector entities can seek an exemption from compliance with that Circular.
  • A public sector entity may consider that it has a valid case for seeking an exemption from a particular Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular. For example, there may be provisions in the enabling legislation of the agency that conflict with the content of a specific Circular.  In such instances the agency concerned should contact the Public Sector Commission, who will examine the issue and provide a recommendation to the affected agency, or if necessary to the relevant Minister.

Administration

Any agency can put forward a case for a Circular, which is reviewed by the Public Sector Commission before being endorsed by the Public Sector Commissioner. It is important that agencies comply with the process outlined below.

Prior to commencing drafting a Circular, agencies should consult the Public Sector Commission for advice regarding whether or not a Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular would be an appropriate means of communicating the information.

Contact: (08) 6552 8600 or circulars@psc.wa.gov.au

A draft Circular should not be attached to a Cabinet Submission. The Cabinet Submission can indicate that a Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular is proposed to be issued, and the Circular can be developed concurrently with the drafting of the Cabinet Submission, and with the advice of the Public Sector Commission, but should NOT be attached to the Cabinet Submission.

As the responsibility for monitoring compliance with Circulars resides with the Chief Executive Officer of the originating agency, originating agencies should consider how they propose to monitor compliance. They should also take into consideration the impact the requirements of the Circular may have on agencies. 

All new circulars are to be issued according to the following arrangements.

Format and Content of Circulars

All current Circulars and the template format for Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars are available online.

Circular content is to be related to matters of cross-government policy and process that promotes the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the Public Sector. Circulars are titled ‘Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars’ to reinforce the fact that they are to have broad application and accessibility across the public sector.

Circulars relating to policies of the Government of the day and whole of State legislative/policy requirements that do not come under the provisions of the Act will continue to be issued as Premier’s Circulars. This may include matters warranting cross-government attention, such as announcements of significant events. Premier’s Circulars are administered by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

Process

  • Proposals for a new Public Sector Commissioner’s Circular are forwarded to the Public Sector Commissioner. 
  • The proposed Circular is reviewed by the Public Sector Commission for appropriateness, style and consistency before endorsement by the Public Sector Commissioner.
  • All Circulars are issued with a review date, which is to be no more than two years from the date of issue, or previous review. 
  • Circulars may be rescinded by the Public Sector Commissioner on advice from the Chief Executive Officer of the originating department.
  • Circulars whose content is relevant for a finite period are to be issued with an expiry date.  The Circular is automatically rescinded at this date.

All Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars are to be reviewed after a State General Election is held to ensure Circulars are consistent with any new policy commitments.

Distribution

New Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars and information regarding replaced or rescinded Circulars is distributed via email.  Emails are sent to all Chief Executive Officers, members of the Senior Executive Service, Ministers’ Offices and to email groups HRShare, HRM Directors, FinShare and PolicyNet. 

Agencies are encouraged to put information regarding Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars on their agency Intranet and to establish internal mechanisms to ensure centralised management and distribution of Public Sector Commissioner’s Circulars.

Further Enquiries

Any queries about these procedures should be directed to Mr Andrew Dores on (08) 6552 8633 or to circulars@psc.wa.gov.au.

 

 


Page last updated 12 September 2012