About this report

The State of the NSW Public Sector Report is the Public Service Commissioner’s independent assessment of the performance, notable achievements, challenges and priorities of the NSW public sector.

Each edition represents an evolution in the reporting and analysis provided. This 2015 edition, To the next level, is PSC’s fourth annual report.

The 2012 report, How it is, focused on three key indicators of performance: values and ethics, capability and productivity. It included baseline data from the inaugural 2012 People Matter survey, a biennial sector-wide survey of how public sector employees perceive workforce management practices. The 2012 report also drew on a NSW Public Sector Ethics Stocktake, which focused on perceptions and practices relating to ethical issues in the public sector.

The 2013 report, Getting into shape, reported on reforms undertaken in response to the first report, especially in the areas of performance, capability frameworks and recruitment. This report also assessed issues around productivity, customer satisfaction and collaboration.

The 2014 report, A better picture, told a narrative about the state of the sector from the perspective of public sector employees, employers and customers. It also identified the six characteristics common among high-performing organisations.

In addition to a second People Matter survey, the 2014 report drew on the inaugural Agency survey and Customer Satisfaction Measurement Survey (the Customer survey) – each of which is introduced in more detail in this chapter.

The 2015 report, To the next level, assesses the state of workforce reform in the NSW public sector. Since 2011, a number of major reforms have been vital to improving how efficiently the public sector delivers services to the community and government.

This year’s report follows a similar structure to the 2014 report, but since it was an ‘off year’ for the biennial People Matter survey, it views the state of the sector primarily from an employer and customer perspective. It also assesses the state of the sector against the six factors common among high-performing organisations:

  • workforce capability and diversity
  • employee engagement
  • customer focus
  • leadership strength
  • culture and behaviours
  • productivity and innovation.

These factors are based on national and international research that assesses the most important contemporary issues, together with findings from the 2012 NSW Commission of Audit. Additional evidence for the 2015 report comes from a range of sources, including the 2015 Agency survey on agency workforce management practices; the 2015 Customer survey; the State of Workforce Reform Review (the Reform review); and a sector-wide workforce data collection, the NSW Workforce Profile. The report also looked at data from previous sector-wide People Matter surveys, and specific reviews and projects that assessed components of workforce management and reform across the sector.

How to read the data discussed in this report

The Agency survey

The 2015 State of the NSW Public Sector Agency Survey provides a qualitative self-assessment from an employer perspective on the extent to which specific elements of workforce management – such as values and ethics, customer service, change management, employment diversity, productivity and collaboration – have been implemented and/or improved within specific agencies. It also offers insights into workforce planning, talent management and capability-based practices. This year’s Agency survey was refined in response to sector-wide feedback from the inaugural survey in 2014.

The Agency survey assesses the extent of implementation as well as the level of development (giving a basic, developed or highly developed rating). In other words, rather than just measuring whether or not an agency has implemented a reform, the survey also measures how far advanced the agency is in reforming certain practices, and its success in applying these practices. The analysis used in this report looks at specific initiatives as well as groups of similar initiatives related to communication, planning, monitoring and assessment.

The Customer survey

The 2015 Customer Satisfaction Measurement Instrument supports the government’s focus on areas where customer service can be improved. PSC and the Customer Service Commissioner jointly developed this survey in 2013. It is delivered by the Office of the Customer Service Commissioner and assesses how customers perceive the performance of the public services that they have used in the last 12 months. It does this by measuring the satisfaction and expectations of individual consumers and business customers, and then benchmarks these results against other jurisdictions and industries.

The Reform review

A PSC-led State of Workforce Reform Review reflects the views of 120 staff members from five different clusters2 in assessing the workforce reforms underway and the effect of the resulting changes. The review included input from secretaries, public sector business and human resource leaders, people managers and employees in an attempt to understand the extent to which the reform intent has been realised in practice. The findings of the review have already helped define future initiatives and the policy changes required to address identified issues.

The review also identified areas across the sector where reform is limited and performance is already high. As such, this report provides a view not only of where the sector is placed, but also of what reform refinements are needed to take the sector to the next level.

The NSW Workforce Profile

TheNSW Workforce Profile is a comprehensive sector-wide collection of data regarding the demographic characteristics and employment arrangements of all public sector employees. The annual census is conducted as a joint exercise by PSC and public sector agencies, and the resulting data appears in different sections throughout this report.

Accessing the report

The 2015 report is available in print and PDF versions, and details are circulated widely in and beyond the public sector. The easy-to-navigate digital version – available on the PSC website: – includes report highlights, additional information and visual media not included in the printed version.

Separate reports for the Agency survey and NSW Workforce Profile are also available at

  1. Family and Community Services; Justice; Planning and Environment; Premier and Cabinet; and Industry