Policy capability profiles

The policy function

The framework provides a whole-of-public sector perspective of the capabilities for the policy function. At a high level, it defines the capabilities that the policy function must develop if it is to be recognised as a source of expertise and guidance to the public sector. It provides policy practitioners, directors and managers with a common language on which to talk with their organisations about the work of the policy function and to define its value to the organisation.  It is the also the basis on which the capabilities for the individual policy practitioner are defined.

The core capabilities

The framework identifies and defines four interrelated core capabilities designed to build the capabilities of policy officers and the policy function. 

They are:

  • Strategic alignment: shape and manage the development of policy options aligned to government policies and priorities and the public interest.
  • Critical thinking: develop responsive, innovative, evidenced-based, practical policy and programs that deliver desired outcomes and value for money
  • Communication and engagement: build and manage productive and effective relationships and partnerships that engage stakeholders.
  • Policy implementation and evaluation: manage policy implementation and ensure ongoing monitoring and evaluation of policy performance to deliver. 

The policy practitioner views

The policy function capabilities are the basis on which the capabilities of the policy practitioner are defined. Each of the policy function capabilities is mapped to various levels to detail the capabilities required of the individual policy officer.

The Individual profile view

The individual profile view shows all the capabilities applicable to a level range that individuals need to develop and apply in order to be successful and effective policy professionals.

This view provides policy practitioners with a tool to define the expected capabilities for policy roles within their organisation. It provides individuals with an overview of where they may need to develop particular aspects of a capability to more effectively and efficiently perform their role, or role to which they aspire.

Each individual profile view comprises:

  • the level of policy knowledge and policy activity that is expected of the policy practitioner at that level range
  • a description that clarifies the objective of each capability for the policy practitioner at that level range
  • the elements that the policy practitioner at that level range must meet to demonstrate the achievement of the capability and its objective.

The Comparative profile view

The comparative profile view provides a snapshot of each capability and all its elements as it applies to the policy practitioner. It scans across levels 3 to 8 and above to identify the changes in activity, knowledge and capability at each level. This view is particularly useful for individuals wishing to transition to the next level of expertise.

Each comparative profile view comprises:

  • the level of policy knowledge and policy activity that is expected of the policy practitioner across the levels
  • a description that clarifies the objective of each capability for the policy function and, alongside that, a description for the policy practitioner at each level range
  • the elements that must be met by the policy function to demonstrate the achievement of that capability and its objective, and alongside that, the corresponding elements that the policy practitioner at that level range must meet.

Grouping of levels 

Each of the policy function capabilities is mapped to various levels to detail the capabilities required of the individual policy officer.

The individual profile is not a job classification tool—it allows the identification of critical capabilities and development needs of individuals to effectively and efficiently fulfil their policy function role.

The policy officer capabilities do not translate directly to a particular level. They apply across a range of job levels that may require a similar range of capabilities. The levels referred to are those of the Public Sector and Government Officers General Agreement 2014 or equivalent.

The following groupings apply:

These groupings more accurately reflect the reality of the differences in roles across agencies, accommodate agency specific requirements and business needs, and take into account that issues and challenges will vary from agency to agency and consequently from role to role.

These profiles describe the degree of activity and knowledge that should be developed in individuals in roles within each range.

A lower range activity focuses on analysis, research and providing support to the policy development process. 

The complexity of activity and knowledge increases with each level until it reaches the most senior policy practitioner in the organisation, who is expected to champion innovative policy options and ensure the successful implementation of policy initiatives.

Benefits of the Policy cap​ability framework

The framework offers a number of benefits and can be used to assist both agencies and individuals. It is intended that the framework be utilised to assist and guide in:

  • job design and recruitment
  • performance development discussions
  • policy training interventions for both individuals and the broader sector both at an agency level and whole-of-sector
  • workforce and succession planning
  • fast-tracking talent
  • general career planning with the aim to increase the mobility of expert skills.

The Policy capability framework can assist policy practitioners to map their career progression pathways.


Page last updated 3 October 2014