The Australian Public Service and Policy Advising: Meeting the Challenges of 21st Century Governance



This concluding article summarises the case study findings comprising the Special Issue on ‘Advising Australian Federal Governments: Assessing the Evolving Capacity and Role of the Australian Public Service’, identifies and discusses cross-cutting issues, and considers strategic implications for future practice and research. It reviews key findings from six case studies – Treasury, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Intergovernmental Relations, Housing, the BER Stimulus program, and Defence – and assesses the policy advising capacity of the Australian Public Service, with a focus on the policy-political interface between governments and officials. Putting recent experience in historical context, it considers the performance of the Commonwealth's policy advisory system, the impact of prime ministers and centralisation, the link between advising and analytic capacities, the system's resilience and readiness, whether recent dissatisfaction over APS advising reflect lack of capacity or a culture clash, and the responsibility for ensuring high-quality policy advice. It recommends developing a more systematic approach to assessing policy advising capability, building on recent APS reforms.