Implementing and Embedding APS Management Reform

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Policy Essentials


The Australian Public Service is undergoing reform to strengthen its focus on implementation and effectiveness in serving the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public. APS staff have a variety of roles in achieving these objectives and need complementary skills to implement reform so that it becomes embedded. This course examines the long-term objective of embedding reform so that its management priorities do not need to be repeated in the future.

Participants will develop an understanding of the elements of management reform, plus the different contributors to implementing reform, maintaining its momentum and the extended timing required to change APS practice. Participants will learn the differences between a project and a program in implementing and embedding change in the APS. They will also learn how to contribute to designing that implementation so that the changes can be evaluated later and the outcomes established.

Course date: 
9.30am–4.30pm 12 November 2020
#132 Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Before 28 October 2020: $1,195

After 29 October 2020: $1,495

Group discounts available.

Course overview

The course discusses meanings of projects and programs, management reform, implementation within and across the APS, what reform change can mean and who undertakes those changes. A focus is on the extended time to achieve outcomes from reform changes. A critical distinction is made between reform changes being considered implemented in the short-term and the long-term embedding required to achieve permanent reform. The course draws upon recent research into the APS management reform cycle.

Course structure:

  • Participants will be given an opportunity to introduce themselves and share experiences of past reforms;
  • Discussion of the purposes of the APS and their professional places in it;
  • Perceptions of meanings of projects, programs, reform, APS origins, implementation processes, who undertakes the changes and where these might occur, how long they last, evidence of effectiveness;
  • Context of Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and interactions with next steps of Thodey Review;
  • The practice of evaluation;
  • Discussing the jigsaw of effective reform implementation.

Teaching methodology:

The day will be interactive, drawing upon participants’ current roles, experiences and perceived APS futures. It will also draw upon Peter Graves’ PhD thesis: The Secretary Said: Make it So. Can Change Management Theory Explain the Challenge of Achieving Enduring Public Sector Management Reform?

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding of APS management reforms, with specific appreciation of:

  • Implementation practices;
  • Contributions by staff;
  • Impacts of management reforms;
  • Methods of establishing long-term effectiveness;
  • Meanings of embeddedness.


  • This course contributes to the Australian Public Service Commission’s Integrated Leadership System, as it relates to the levels ASO 6 to Executive Level 2.
  • In particular, to the Core Capabilities Shapes Strategic Thinking and Achieves Results, and that sub-element “steers and implements change and deals with uncertainty”.

Anticipated behavioural and business impacts include:

Participants developing a greater understanding of the framework for implementing effective management reform in the APS and their participation in those implementation practices.

Participants could apply this learning in three areas of the APS in 2020:

  1. Further reform of the APS is expected to result from the Government’s response to the Thodey Review of the APS.

  2. The Prime Minister has emphasised the priority of policy implementation, as a core skill of the APS;

  3. The Department of Finance has recently outlined the significance of program evaluation in implementing the non-financial performance requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013: Morton, D., & Cook, B. (2018). Evaluators and the Enhanced Commonwealth Performance Framework. Evaluation Journal of Australasia, 18(3), 141-164.

Who should attend?

  • This is a course intended for general administrative/executive level staff of any agency, including APS levels of ASO 6 and Executive Levels 1 and 2 (or equivalent).
  • Participants are both the current worker levels of the APS and also its future managers and leaders in the Senior Executive Service.

This course is of interest to:

  • Policy areas of all departments, responsible for implementing management reform.
  • Operational areas of departments, responsible for implementing the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
  • Any areas of departments charged with assessing operational effectiveness.

Participants are presumed to have some knowledge of the APS and its structures; some knowledge of federal relationships between Commonwealth and States and a basic understanding of contracting services to non-government agencies.

Course presenter(s)

Peter Graves

Peter Graves had an extensive APS career with over thirty years experience at the executive levels in the Departments of Customs, Industry and Health, which were combined with policy contributions at the Finance Department and Public Service Commission. His background has included developing a risk-management strategy for excise revenue collection, completing APS policies on contracting out and staff competencies, with a major contribution to one Department’s program evaluation guidelines.

He has been a member of the Institution of Public Administration Australia since 1993, where he helped assess and judge the qualities of Departmental Annual Reports. He has also been a member of the Australian Evaluation Society since 2007 and assisted in writing the Society’s submissions to the 2017 Review of the Implementation of the PGPA Act and the 2019 Review of the APS. He has a Master’s degree in public health and has completed researching whether change management theory can explain the challenge of achieving enduring APS management reform.

Updated:  1 June 2020/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team