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Professional public administration — key initiatives

This objective fosters and promotes a high-performing public service. It ensures effective whole of government performance and outcomes. It protects the values of good public governance in support of public trust.

DPC’s outcomes on the following key initiatives have helped us achieve the Professional public administration strategic objective.

Office of the Governor initiatives

In addition to constitutional and ceremonial duties, the Governor hosted a wide range of events in 2019–20, making Government House and its grounds available in new ways for events, community programs and groups that might not have previously had the opportunity to visit it.

The Governor and her spouse, Mr Anthony Howard, continued an extensive international engagement program on behalf of the government. In early 2020, the Governor and Mr Howard had a particular focus on community engagement in the aftermath of the Victorian bushfires. The coronavirus (COVID-19) related physical distancing directions from March 2020 resulted in the Governor continuing a full program in virtual form. The Office of the Governor continues to modernise its business systems, work that will continue into 2020–21.

Implementing security upgrades for government buildings

In 2019–20, the Office of the Governor continued a significant program of projects, including security and conservation upgrade works. This program of works will be completed in 2020–21.

Chief Parliamentary Counsel services

In 2019–20, the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (OCPC) drafted a range of legislation to implement major government policy initiatives and reforms across a wide range of law.

OCPC drafted the large and complex COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 in an extremely compressed timeframe as part of the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Local Government Act 2020 was the most significant reform to Victoria’s local government legislation in more than 30 years. Other legislation to implement significant policy initiatives included the North East Link Act 2020, the Transport Legislation Amendment Act 2019, the Melbourne Strategic Assessment (Environment Mitigation Levy) Act 2020, the Workplace Safety Legislation (Workplace Manslaughter and Other Matters) Act 2019, the Wage Theft Act 2020 and the Crimes Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried Amendment Bill 2020.

OCPC drafted important environmental legislation such as the Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Act 2019 and the Great Ocean Road and Environs Protection Act 2020, the Parks and Crown Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Amendment Act 2019.

Over the 2019–20 period, 169 statutory rules were made. This involved a large number of remakes of sunsetting regulations such as the Fisheries Regulations 2019 and the Children’s Services Regulations 2020. Regulations were made to support amendments made by the Fire Rescue Victoria Act, and the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2019 were made to support reforms in the residential tenancies law. Several statutory rules were also made to implement changes required by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Throughout 2019–20, OCPC continued providing drafting services to parliament to facilitate the passage of Victorian Government legislation, the preparation of House amendments and the introduction of Private Members’ Bills.

The demand from opposition and independent Members of Parliament (MPs) for drafting services for House Amendments continues to be a challenge. Reflecting the anticipated rise in non-election years and minor party representation in the new parliament, the number of House Amendments for 2019–20 was 88, against a target of 60.

An amount of $250,000 was provided in the 2019/20 Victorian Budget to undertake initial scoping and business requirements and to develop a detailed business case for a replacement Integrated Legislative Database.

The database provides community access to current and historical Victorian legislation. OCPC worked closely with the Single Digital Presence team in DPC to build a new legislation website using updated technology and enhanced reliability, support and security. The new website was launched on 27 February 2020.

Securing public records by accessing a customised storage facility

During 2019–20, Public Record Office Victoria was able to increase its storage capacity for maps by another 15,000 flat maps. The planning for the transfer of 10,000 linear metres of general storage capacity to a State Library Victoria storage facility in Ballarat has been completed.

The transfer, initially planned for the last quarter of 2019–20, was delayed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is now expected to occur in the last quarter of 2020–21. The total expenditure for 2019–20 was $0.352 million ($0.500 million budget).

Establishing and leading the government’s Independent Remuneration Tribunal and compliance officer function

The Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal (Tribunal) was established in March 2019 to support independent and impartial decision-making about MP salaries and allowances and remuneration bands for executives employed in the VPS and prescribed public entities. The Tribunal completed its first Determination for MP salaries and allowances in September 2019 and made an annual adjustment Determination in June 2020. The Tribunal issued its first set of guidelines that govern the use of MP work-related parliamentary allowances. The guidelines were updated in late 2019, and the Tribunal began a major review of the guidelines in early 2020, with the release of an issues paper and stakeholder consultation.

In July 2019, the Tribunal assumed responsibility for administering the Public Entity Executive Remuneration Policy, which details the government’s approach to executive remuneration for executives in specified entities. In 2019–20, the Tribunal determined the total remuneration packages for 36 chief executive officers of specified public entities.

The Tribunal made its first Determination of remuneration bands for executives employed in public service bodies in May 2020. It also began the process for making the first Determination of remuneration bands for executives employed in prescribed public entities in late 2019, undertaking significant stakeholder consultation with public entity board chairs and executives.

The Office of Compliance Officer, attached to the Tribunal, was also established in 2019 to hear and determine appeals from MPs in relation to use of parliamentary allowances and the separation payment. During 2019–20, the Compliance Officer heard one appeal being the first appeal made by an MP, and published a statement of findings in relation to that appeal.

The Tribunal and Compliance Officer are supported by a secretariat that sits within DPC.

Fostering innovation and new ways of working in the public sector

Human-centred design

Human-centred design is an approach to problem solving that puts the people we are designing for at the heart of the process. By taking an empathic approach we can align government services with the needs and desires of people. By continually validating, refining and improving our work we can discover the root causes of complex problems, generate more ideas, exercise our creativity and arrive more quickly at fitting solutions.

In 2019–20, DPC’s Digital, Design and Innovation branch produced the Human-Centred Design Playbook, an online practical learning guide for public servants who are designing, procuring or managing human-centred design projects. The playbook is targeted at VPS staff who are new to human-centred design practice to help them collaborate better with citizens, technologists and external design agencies. Since its launch early in 2020, the website ( has been visited 2,963 times and the playbook downloaded 245 times.

In 2019–20, Digital, Design and Innovation championed the human-centred design approach by providing advisory and technical assistance to 30 government entities. It also served an additional 417 people from across government through training, workshops and presentations at seminars and conferences.

Modernising systems and processes to improve government productivity

Single Digital Presence

Built for government, by government, Single Digital Presence (SDP) is a sustainable, scalable, secure and accessible publishing platform that reduces the cost and time to deliver high-quality digital presences for government agencies.

As a result, SDP has made it easier for Victorians to find, access, understand and use Victorian Government information.

In 2019–20, SDP completed the DPC business case and transitioned to operations. Over the life of the business case, SDP simplified the community experience of online government information by consolidating 79 websites. This was achieved by publishing content on by default and joining up user journeys.

To support digital capability uplift in the VPS, SDP has trained more than 300 public servants to use the platform’s content management system, and more than 600 VPS have attended a writing for the web training session.

Victorian Government Digital Guides

Victorian Government Digital Guides uplift VPS capability in important and challenging areas of digital delivery. In 2019–20, DPC delivered two new guides, bringing the total number of guides to 22.

‘Make your project open source’ encourages the VPS to make projects ‘open source’, which means to publicly share intellectual property for software, design and content. Opening projects and making them available for sharing and re-use avoids duplication and drives innovation and collaboration across government. Open source projects also give back to the Victorian community.

‘Protect privacy’ helps VPS staff meet obligations under the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 when delivering a digital service. Good privacy practices protect human rights, build trust and engagement with the community, prevent privacy and data breaches and reduce the time and cost of responding to privacy complaints.

DPC offers continued support to modernising departmental processes through the whole of government Application Programming Interface (API) Capability Program.

In September 2019, the Victorian Secretaries Board formalised the program to support all departments and Victoria Police to surface the valuable information stored in core business systems and make this available in a secure and reusable manner — not only within each department but also across government and in some cases to the general public.

The API capability program provides a range of modern technology products and professional services that have supported API integration and data-sharing initiatives across DPC, DHHS, DELWP, DJPR and DJCS.

By partnering with each department on their initiatives, DPC has been successful in promoting the re-use of existing government data to support service delivery to citizens and improving government productivity through reducing manual processing effort.

The API capability program was central to the creation and open publishing of the National API Design Standards (NAPIDS). In December 2019, the Council of Australian Governments endorsed NAPIDS as the common design standard for APIs. This allows all levels of government to develop independent or shared services more efficiently through secure data sharing and re-use across jurisdictions.

Supporting our integrity agencies

Integrity system and public information reforms

Reforms introduced by the Integrity and Accountability Legislation Amendment (Public Interest Disclosures, Oversight and Independence) Act 2019 strengthened the public interest disclosure system and streamlined Victoria’s integrity and accountability system. The reforms began on 31 December 2019 and 1 January 2020 respectively. The 2019 Integrity Act:

  • expanded the definition of ‘improper conduct’ under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2012
  • simplified confidentiality obligations under the public interest disclosure scheme
  • streamlined oversight of the integrity agencies under the new Integrity and Oversight Committee
  • provided greater independence for the Victorian Ombudsman, Independent
    Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission and Victorian Inspectorate in their budget processes (draft budgets will be determined in consultation with the Integrity and Oversight Committee and the annual appropriation will be specified in the Parliament Appropriation Bill)
  • brought the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) into the public interest disclosure regime. (OVIC can now investigate public interest disclosures referred to OVIC by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission).

DPC supported implementation of the 2019 Integrity Act, including the making of the following regulations to give effect to the Act:

  • Victorian Inspectorate Amendment Regulations 2019
  • Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Amendment Regulations 2019
  • Ombudsman Regulations 2019
  • Public Interest Disclosures Regulations 2019
  • Freedom of Information Amendment Regulations 2019
  • Local Government (General) Amendment Regulations 2019.

The regulations prescribe forms for a witness summons and confidentiality notice.

DPC also liaised with the Information Commissioner on developing Professional Standards issued in accordance with Part IB of the Freedom of Information Act 1982. The Professional Standards prescribe how agencies must discharge their obligations under the Act.

On 1 May 2020, as part of machinery of government changes, the integrity agencies transferred to DJCS.

Driving and leading a new information culture and leading freedom of information activities

During 2019–20, OVIC:

  • developed resources for upholding information rights when responding to coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • issued Professional Standards under Part IB of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act on 2 December 2019
  • delivered a suite of updated and new guidance materials on FOI in the form of practice notes and agency templates
  • delivered a report on the state of FOI in Victoria to provide a five-year overview of FOI in Victoria from 2014 to 2019
  • published a discussion paper and started consultation on a proactive and informal release of government-held information
  • began the Monash University pilot study into FOI and information access culture in Victoria
  • published a book, Closer to the Machine, with contributions from eight notable experts in the field aimed at explaining concepts in artificial intelligence to VPS staff
  • published a Privacy Management Framework to provide organisations with guidance on the policies and procedures that promote good privacy practices within an organisation.

On 1 May 2020, as part of machinery of government changes, OVIC transferred to DJCS.

Implementing the Jobs and Skills Exchange to expand opportunities for VPS staff

Since its launch in July 2019, the Jobs and Skills Exchange (JSE) has designed and implemented new approaches to enhancing workforce mobility and career development in the VPS. The JSE successfully delivered a jobs platform, other digital tools and a recruitment policy that provides greater visibility of and access to career opportunities for VPS employees. At the end of the JSE’s first year of operations, over half of the VPS workforce have registered as JSE members and more than 10,000 VPS jobs have been advertised. The JSE has begun the transition to a technology platform that provides an enhanced user interface and better user experience, particularly with respect to accessing holistic career development content.

The JSE has engaged widely across the VPS to develop policies and service offerings that promote diversity and inclusion as well as recruitment that focuses on the growth potential of existing VPS employees. JSE has undertaken research to better understand the barriers to mobility and how these can be addressed. Governance mechanisms have been established so that the input of departments and other key stakeholders can actively inform the JSE’s priorities and growth.

Through analysis of job platform data and feedback from hiring managers, the JSE has a unique ‘intelligence bank’ about the specific needs and availability of skills and capabilities to deliver government priorities. The launch of Member Profiles has allowed the JSE to understand the skills and professional experience that exist across the VPS workforce, which will help to inform future reform in learning and development and to create professional cohorts. The strong uptake of Member Profiles indicates there is an appetite from the workforce to participate in new ways of sharing information about its skills and career ambitions.

In 2019–20, the JSE also supported employee mobility during delivery of a whole of government mobilisation program to support the Industrial Relations Framework for managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This work has established strong foundations to support future anticipation of and response to urgent and emerging workforce needs.

Enhancing public sector integrity and governance capability through the Victorian Public Sector Commission

The Victorian Public Sector Commission’s (VPSC) initiatives to enhance public sector integrity and governance capability this year included a restructured State of the Public Sector in Victoria report that provides public sector organisations with an evidence base to continually improve the way they build, manage and lead the workforce. The focus in 2019–20 was on the following issues: building workforce capacity; strengthening senior leadership; workplace mental health and wellbeing; and a values-based culture. The VPSC placed particular emphasis on these priorities in the context of responding to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the VPS workforce and broader community.

The VPSC also developed a workforce capability framework, identifying five domains of capability that the public sector will need in its future workforce: meaningful outcomes, enabling delivery, authentic relationships, people leadership; and personal attributes. These capabilities provide a solid foundation for a wide range of workforce management and development activities including role design, recruitment, learning and development and workforce planning.

The VPSC recruited 92 people to the 2020 Victorian Government graduate program, adding new streams in data analytics and program delivery. Inclusive recruitment practices increased participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with disability.

Pre-employment screening was broadened, extending the VPS executive screening to cover non-executives too. The Victorian Leadership Academy established an induction program for executives that explains the integrity, governance and ethical standards required of leaders in senior public service roles. Thirty-nine people joined the first induction program, reinforcing the critical role that leaders play in modelling and upholding a values-based culture.

The VPSC provided HR guidance to help the public sector transition to remote management of the employee lifecycle during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This included publishing a guide for remote recruitment and supporting development of a remote working checklist and advice about managing performance development plans remotely.