Work with Purpose | Episode #92 part 1 | 11 September 2023

EPISODE #92 part 1 | Exploring capability uplift in the Australian Public Service

In 2019, the Thodey Review highlighted capability challenges and untapped potential within the Australian Public Service (APS). Two years have passed, and the APS Reform Agenda is providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build capability and improve public service. With growing awareness of APS Reform across the service and 270 specialist capabilities within various agencies and departments, we explore the challenges and opportunities of building and sustaining capability across the APS’ large and diverse workforce.

In part one of this special episode of Work with Purpose, we sit down with Dr Rachel Bacon, deputy secretary at the APS Reform Office, and Dr Subho Banerjee, deputy commissioner and head of the APS Academy and Capability, to explore the nuances of capability within the public service. They discuss the role of the Secretaries’ Board and the capability committee in setting strategic priorities, including attracting talent, embracing technological advancements, and fortifying leadership integrity. Tune in to discover how the APS is taking a decentralised, outward-facing approach to drive continuous improvement in public service.

Discussed in this episode:

  • The meaning of ’building capability’ in a workforce context
  • Challenges relating to the APS Workforce Strategy's three focus areas for capability uplift
  • Role of the Reform Office in building capability
  • Collaboration between the Reform Office and Australian Public Service Commission.



Dr Rachel Bacon
Dr Rachel Bacon is the deputy secretary for APS Reform. She has previously served in key roles across various departments, including infrastructure, environment, and the Northern Territory Government. With experience leading taskforces and implementing policy in areas like environment regulation and national security, her expertise spans administrative law and organisational change, as evidenced by her PhD.

Dr Subho Banerjee
Dr Subho Banerjee is the deputy commissioner and head of the APS Academy and Capability at the Australian Public Service Commission. With a diverse background in education, industry, and climate change portfolios, he has also overseen finance, human resources, and governance in multiple departments. Prior roles include work in the private sector, not-for-profit organisations, and academia, particularly at the intersection of public sector reform. Trained initially in physics, he also holds qualifications in economic and social history, and environmental change, being a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford.




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