Commissioner’s foreword

The last 12 months has proven strong leadership in a dynamic environment is pivotal to enduring reform.

I am pleased to deliver the Public Sector Commission Annual Report 2016/17 to the Parliament of Western Australia, in a year that has brought transformational change to the sector.

Following the State election, our immediate focus shifted to better support Government policy and facilitate the most significant public sector reforms in over a decade. The Machinery of Government agenda announced in April proved to be a substantial task as we worked with Government to reduce the number of departments by 40 per cent. As part of the reforms, we have also assisted agency heads to reduce the size and cost of the Senior Executive Service. 

To further drive efficiencies across the sector, I have been pleased to work with Government in establishing the Service Priority Review and initiating a Directors General working group into red tape reduction. The findings from these reviews will set our course over the year ahead.

At the direction of the Premier, the Hon. Mark McGowan MLA, under sections 24H(2) and (3) of the Public Sector Management Act 1994, I also arranged for the Inquiry into Government Programs and Projects. The special inquiry will examine the governance arrangements, decision-making processes and financial consequences associated with a number of government programs and projects. Led by former Under Treasurer John Langoulant AO, it is anticipated findings from the inquiry will further strengthen the accountability and transparency of State Government contracts.

To deliver on our new priorities and ensure we remain responsive to a shifting Government agenda, we focused on making the Commission more nimble and mobile. As part of this, we reviewed our internal operations and reprioritised the way we do our business. This included establishing a Machinery of Government team to work exclusively on the changes. We also continued to embed key staff members within agencies undergoing significant reform.

With a large number of staff working across whole-of-government projects, we put a dynamic organisational structure in place, reducing our senior executive and the number of directorates to our three priority areas – Workforce, Engagement and Conduct. We also more closely aligned our conduct, oversight and reporting functions with our misconduct prevention and education functions, driving efficiency in this area and further strengthening integrity and accountability in public authorities.

To ensure our strategic priorities remain consistent across the Commission, and to continue to deliver the best outcomes for our clients, we worked with our employees to develop a new strategic plan and employee value proposition. The new plan, which was launched on 1 July 2017, reflects our collective vision and values going forward.

In my view, to successfully implement organisational change, positive messaging, strong leadership and proper processes are required to ensure a smooth transition and the best outcomes for those involved. Whether it be implementing changes within the Commission, or throughout the wider public sector, we will continue to practice these fundamental principles. 

While I acknowledge that explicit changes are often difficult to anticipate, we can be certain that change will continue to impact the sector for the foreseeable future. Public sector leaders must take action and prepare their agencies for this. The work undertaken by the Commission over the reporting period has positioned us well to assist public sector leaders through this process.

What I have observed over the last year is that leadership matters. Public sector leaders have showcased their ability to be mobile, agile and resilient. The leadership provided across the sector during a year of change has enabled high-quality services to be delivered to the community, while workforce outcomes have been implemented.

It has certainly been a unique year for the Commission and I would like to thank my staff for remaining committed and flexible. This year’s achievements, contained within the report, reflect their passion for the diverse work we do and their professionalism in undertaking this work.


M C Wauchope AO
Public Sector Commissioner
14 September 2017

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Page last updated 14 September 2017