The strategic outcome of this work is that Victorians trust the public sector.
A public sector that:
- is transparent and accountable
- has strong governance
- is trusted and acts with integrity.
Driving a preventative approach to integrity and governance issues
We responded to 201 queries about the Codes of Conduct and Standards for the Application of Victorian Public Sector Employment Principles, referring matters to departments and agencies where required.
In 2020-21, we assessed 13 applications for reviews of action and undertook 6 reviews, making 1 recommendation in total.
We maintained the Victorian Lobbyist Register, registering 68 lobbyists and government affairs directors in 2020-21. Our communications highlighted people’s obligations under the Victorian Government Professional Lobbyist Code of Conduct.
We developed and implemented a Pre-employment Misconduct Screening Model Policy for prescribed public entity executive recruitment and published a guide to implementing it. We also published a guide to maintaining integrity when working remotely.
We reported to the Public Sector Administration Committee on implementation of the Respectful Workplaces Framework and Sexual Harassment Model Policy. By updating the Guide for Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, we acquitted recommendations 9, 10 and 11 of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office audit report: Sexual Harassment in the VPS.
This included adding new sections on investigating allegations of sexual harassment where there are no independent witnesses, information organisations can share with parties at the conclusion of an investigation, and reporting matters to external agencies or authorities.
Strengthening integrity and governance capability
The guidance targets integrity issues identified by the Victorian Ombudsman in the report: Investigation into allegations of improper conduct by officers at Goulburn Murray Water. It addresses awareness and knowledge of public sector policies and obligations, helping people understand when and how to apply them in decision making.
We have also commenced development of a comprehensive suite of resources for public entity board directors covering multiple integrity and governance topics.
Reviewing and enquiring into critical issues
The Commission conducts reviews and enquiries to provide public sector organisations with an objective assessment of how their people, processes and systems enable outcomes.
Conducting reviews is one of the Commission’s functions under section 39 of the Public Administration Act 2004. We completed one review in 2020-21 and commenced another.
Reviews identify opportunities for an organisation to improve its performance, repositioning and equipping itself to meet future challenges. The findings of reviews also inform the Commission’s preventative integrity work which aims to ensure a professional, accountable, responsive and efficient public sector.
Promoting and advocating for an impartial and professional public sector
The COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Board of Inquiry made one recommendation directly to the Commissioner: that the public sector Commissioner examines the evidence that emerged in the inquiry as to the lines of accountability and responsibility as between Departmental heads and Ministers and gives guidance across the public service as to the obligations, both in law and in practice, on heads of departments and senior public office holders.
The Commissioner accepted the recommendation and has progressed work on developing the guidance. We expect to publish it in 2021, consistent with commitments made in the Victorian Government response to the Inquiry’s Final Report. The guidance will provide advice about Secretaries’ obligations and responsibilities when informing and advising Ministers.
We developed a compliance certification process for public entity employers, delivering on a recommendation made in the Final Industry Segment Reviews Report as part of the government’s executive employment policy reforms.
We commenced implementation of the Public Entity Executive Classification Framework, completing 387 assessments in 2020-21. We advised the Department of Premier and Cabinet on policy aspects of the Public Entity Executive Remuneration Policy in its connection to work value assessments.
These reforms, along with the establishment of the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal, are making executive classification and remuneration more consistent between the VPS and public entity employers.
The Commission maintained executive employment matters. We answered queries from departments, entities and individuals about the executive employment contracts and handbooks. We used stakeholder feedback to refine the standard contract and policy settings in the handbooks.