About this report

Welcome to the Public Sector Commission's Annual report 2014/15. This report is designed to provide you with information about the Commission and its purpose, services and performance.

It presents the Commission's work in the context of the priorities stated in its strategic plan, budget papers and other significant documents, and outlines its contribution to the broader desired outcomes for government. The report is divided into four key sections:

  1. Agency in focus presents an overview of the Commission, introduces the corporate executive team and reveals its workforce at a glance. It also provides a summary of its outcome-based management framework.
  2. Significant issues impacting the agency outlines the key challenges and opportunities facing public administration and management in Western Australia and how the Commission is currently addressing them.
  3. Agency performance presents detailed information against each priority area of the Commission's work and describes its major initiatives and projects.
  4. Disclosures and legal compliance includes the Commission's key performance indicators and financial statements, providing information on its performance measures and the financial situation. It also includes other legal requirements, such as our commitment to occupational health and safety and a summary of the freedom of information applications finalised during 2014/15.

Highlights

Sponsorship and hospitality

In July 2014, the Public Sector Commissioner (Commissioner) commenced an investigation into Healthway practices associated with the management of tickets, hospitality and other benefits in high value sponsorship agreements. The action was taken after receiving a formal referral from the Office of the Auditor General.

The investigation was undertaken using the Commissioner's authority under s.24(1) of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 (PSM Act). The investigation considered the appropriateness of Healthway activities in the context of government procurement policy, the adequacy of organisational governance arrangements and whether any public officers had derived a private benefit.

Our investigation concluded that funding decisions were not compromised by any deficiencies, nor did any Healthway officer deliberately set out to procure such resources for the purpose of deriving a private benefit. However, it did establish that integrity risks associated with corporate hospitality were not adequately addressed and some hospitality resources were used in a way that provided a private benefit to some Healthway officers.

The Public Sector Commission (the Commission) concluded the investigation in December 2014, and reports were provided to the responsible Minister and the Healthway Chair in February 2015. The investigation report, Acquisition and use of hospitality resources by Healthway, was tabled in Parliament on 19 February 2015.

In light of the report's findings, the Commission has been active in ensuring 'lessons learned' from the investigation are shared and understood by other public sector agencies. This has involved:

  • sharing a checklist for assessing risks and controls associated with tickets and hospitality obtained as part of any grant or sponsorship scheme
  • working with public sector chief executive officers (CEOs) on managing gifts, benefits and hospitality
  • delivering a series of 'lessons learned' seminars to CEOs and senior staff
  • providing a review service to assist agencies to update their relevant policies and controls.

The outcome has been an increased awareness around business imperatives and integrity risks associated with the acquisition and management of hospitality resources by public sector agencies, and state-owned commercial entities. The Premier and government ministers, subsequently provided responses in Parliament to two parliamentary questions relating to corporate hospitality.

Following a request from the Premier, the Commissioner has commenced a review to assess the responses to these parliamentary questions, report on specific agency activities, and identify whether any further steps are required to ensure proper governance and transparency around such activities. This work will continue in the next reporting period.

State-wide strategies

This year, two key state-wide strategies were completed:

  • Aboriginal employment strategy 2011-2015: Building a diverse public sector workforce.
  • Disability employment strategy 2013-2015: Ensuring a representative sector.

The Aboriginal employment strategy 2011–2015, developed in conjunction with agencies and Aboriginal employees, focussed on long-term, sustainable employment opportunities and career pathways for Aboriginal people across the sector. The strategy was part of WA's commitment to the Council of Australian Governments' Indigenous economic national partnership agreement to reach a target of 3.2 per cent of Aboriginal representation across the WA public sector.

In 2014/15, the sector reached 2.8 per cent Aboriginal representation in public sector employment. However, it is noted that during the five year period of the strategy the representation was as high as 3.3 per cent in June 2012. This highlights the ongoing challenge of retention. While falling short of its ambitious target, it is encouraging we continued to outperform all other states, except for the Northern Territory. The Commission now looks toward a new three year strategy aiming to:

  • build on the positive outcomes achieved around recruiting Aboriginal trainees
    (171 trainees over the past three years)
  • develop retention and career development strategies for Aboriginal employees
  • increase representation of Aboriginal employees across all classification levels, and
  • improve cultural competence across the sector.

The Disability employment strategy 2013-2015 was a joint initiative between the Commission and the Disability Services Commission. The strategy aimed to improve participation, inclusion and access for people with disability at all levels of employment in the public sector.

Key successes of the strategy included the reinvigoration of government traineeships for people with disability, the establishment of a transition from traineeship to employment program and the launch of Supporting good mental health in the workplace: a resource for agencies, in partnership with the Mental Health Commission.

People with disability demonstrate strong representation among Commission traineeships, with 16 per cent of full-time trainees and 12 per cent of school-based trainees identifying with a disability. This year, the Commission supported the employment of three full-time trainees and two school-based trainees that identified as having a disability.

While there have been some successes, people with disability continue to be under-represented across the sector. The WA public sector has around 2.2 per cent of its workforce comprising of people with disability and these people are disproportionately represented in certain job groups. Over the year ahead we will work in partnership with the Disability Services Commission and public sector leaders, to examine agency practices and potential barriers to the employment of people with disability.

Enhancing the regions

With around one quarter of the state's public sector workforce located outside the Perth metropolitan area, Royalties for Regions funding has been essential to the Commission delivering programs, information sessions and employment initiatives to the regions.

This year marked the end of the three-year funding initiative that generated practical benefits for regional public sector employees, including an increased understanding of ethics and integrity, public sector renewal, workforce reform and leadership development. During the year, the Commission delivered 24 professional development sessions and placed 19 Aboriginal trainees in regional locations.

The Commissioner also personally visited the west Kimberley, Goldfields and Mid-West to deliver good governance sessions to public sector and local government CEOs and board chairs. These sessions highlighted the integrity risks people face when they live and work in regional areas, and showcased the good work being done by public sector agencies and local governments. The visit to Kalgoorlie coincided with a meeting of the Regional Heads of State Government Agencies Group, where he met with 23 senior public officers holding key roles in the Goldfields region. The Commissioner noted he had a greater appreciation for the good work being carried out by public sector agencies and local government in regional WA, and more insight into the particular integrity risks people face when they live and work in the community they serve.

A legacy of the funding has been the introduction of electronic infrastructure, including video conferencing and webcasting facilities, and recorded content and online training capabilities. This has significantly improved accessibility options for regional stakeholders which the Commission will continue to use over the years ahead.

With the prevention and education role under the new minor misconduct jurisdiction, and the ongoing commitment to promoting integrity within public authorities, the Commission will continue to deliver initiatives to the regional public sector workforce into the future.

Partnership and collaboration

Collaboration across Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions has a role in strengthening public sector reform and renewal. This year, we worked with the Australian Public Service Commission to broaden the membership of the Australian Public Service Commissioners' Conference. The membership will now include the Singaporean Public Service Commissioner who will attend the conference in October 2015.

The Commission also led an inter-jurisdictional working group to produce a joint statement outlining their commitment to develop strategies to reinforce the human resource function as the custodian of organisational capability, culture and leadership. This work will continue into the next reporting period.

These close working relationships enabled the Commissioner and his colleagues, the Australian Public Service and New South Wales Public Service Commissioners, to share their thoughts with the sector. This included the direction of the public service, and its capacity to meet future challenges and opportunities at a national conference held in Perth.

Following the success of this session, the Commissioner invited the New Zealand State Services Commissioner and met with the South Australian Public Sector Commissioner to provide their 'big picture' view on public administration.

Public Sector Renewal Inter-Jurisdictional ConferencePublic Sector Renewal Inter-Jurisdictional Conference

Recognising achievement across the sector

The Australian Honours System represents the highest level of national recognition for outstanding achievement and service by Australians. The Commissioner is WA's representative on the Council for the Order of Australia and the Chair of the State selection panel for the Public Service Medal.

In 2014/15, there were 52 WA recipients in the Australia Day Honours List and 45 WA recipients in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, including four WA public sector employees (Mr Ricky Dawson, Mr Alexander Errington, Mr David Hartley and Ms Gail Milner) who received the Public Service Medal which recognises an outstanding contribution to the public service.

The Commission acts on the Premier's behalf in the promotion, coordination and management of the Premier's Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management. In 2014/15, 50 nominations were received, all demonstrating a high level of commitment to public service delivery and excellence in public sector management. The Department of Housing's 'Shared Equity EOI program' won the 2014 'Developing the economy' category, and the overall winner's trophy.

We also sponsor the 'Public Sector Commission Award for Good Governance' as part of the annual Institute of Public Administration Australia WA (IPAA WA) WS Lonnie Awards. The 2015 winner of this award was the Economic Regulation Authority.

Colin Barnett and Mr Grahame SearlePremier Hon. Colin Barnett and Mr Grahame Searle, Director General, Department of Housing


Page last updated 24 September 2015