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New arrangements for merit and transparency in senior public service appointments.

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Senator the Hon John Faulkner, Special Minister of State

Special Minister of State

Media Release

02/2008 5 February 2008

New Arrangements for Merit and Transparency in Senior Public Service Appointments

The Government has decided to strengthen transparency and merit based selection when appointing senior public servants.

The new arrangements apply to agency heads - other than departmental secretaries - and statutory offices working within or closely with APS agencies.

The arrangements cover more than 130 senior positions including 65 agency heads.

Under the new arrangements all relevant positions will be advertised, the assessment process will be based on merit, and each process will be oversighted by the relevant departmental secretary and the Public Service Commissioner.

In each case the relevant Minister will receive a considered report based on a process that applied merit and openness - but he or she will remain responsible for the appointment decision.

Appointments will normally be for five years, but could be for other periods if requested by the prospective office holder or required by the supporting legislation.

The new arrangements will also require that Ministers ensure existing office holders are given reasonable notice as to whether or not they will be reappointed.

There will be some limited exceptions to these arrangements - a Minister may not wish to advertise a particular position in special circumstances, for instance where there is another office holder at a similar level who could be moved to the position. Any exceptions will require the Prime Minister’s approval. As well, where a board is responsible for appointments, it will have responsibility for the process.

The new arrangements, which meet an election commitment, will come into effect immediately and will be fully implemented by 1 July this year. The list of current offices to be covered, and those excepted, is attached.

List of agency heads and statutory offices subject to merit-based selection [PDF - 1.64MB]

Media Enquiries: Media Adviser - Colin Campbell - 0407 787 181