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Public Service Commission

About this report

State of the NSW Public Sector Report 2021

The State of the NSW Public Sector Report is the Public Service Commissioner’s independent assessment of the performance of the NSW public sector. It discusses the sector’s achievements and priorities, as well as the challenges it faces in delivering positive and enduring outcomes for the people of NSW.

How to read the data discussed in this report

This report draws on evidence from a range of sources, including the People Matter Employee Survey (People Matter survey), the Customer Satisfaction Measurement Survey (CSMS) and the Workforce Profile. Throughout this report:

  • the acronym ‘pp’ stands for ‘percentage points’
  • all diversity statistics are based on self-disclosed information
  • LGBTIQA+ representation is based on the People Matter survey, which had a sector response rate of 44.0% in 2021.

People Matter Employee Survey

The People Matter survey (PMES) asks NSW public sector employees about their experiences at work, with their teams, managers and leaders, and in their organisations more broadly. The 2021 survey was open from 23 August to 17 September.

Most of the survey results are presented as ‘per cent favourable’, which combines the number of ‘agree’ and ‘strongly agree’ responses to a question or set of questions. In this report, a score as a percentage is reported for theoretical and practical grouping of related questions as ‘favourable overall’. These scores provide an overview of workplace practices that impact employee experience, and they are each based on multiple questions in the People Matter survey

Customer Satisfaction Measurement Survey

The Customer Satisfaction Measurement Survey (CSMS), conducted by the Customer Experience Unit in the Department of Customer Service, tracks customer satisfaction with NSW Government services. The CSMS provides a holistic view of customer experience, benchmarking satisfaction with NSW Government services against those in other jurisdictions (for example, Victoria and South Australia) and industries (for example, airlines and banks). It captures data at a whole-of-sector level across 22 NSW Government services. The CSMS helps to improve customer satisfaction by identifying the areas of NSW Government services that require higher degrees of effort for customers.

The CSMS was concluded in 2020. To better understand the experiences of our customers, the Department of Customer Service is developing a new, more comprehensive customer experience program. The new data was not available when this report was published, so this report uses the 2020 data from the CSMS. The State of the NSW Public Sector Report in 2022 will report on the new customer experience survey measurements.

Workforce Profile

The Workforce Profile (WFP) is a comprehensive annual data collection relating to the demographic characteristics and employment arrangements of all public sector employees. The Public Service Commission (PSC) and all public sector agencies jointly complete the collection. The census date is the last payday of the financial year, and the census period is the two weeks leading up to and including the census date. The data in this report are for the census date, unless otherwise specified. For 2021, the census date was 24 June.


Throughout this report ‘metropolitan’ refers to the Greater Sydney metropolitan area and the Newcastle and Wollongong local government areas (LGAs). ‘Regional’ refers to the remainder of NSW.

The maps showing the geographic distribution of NSW public sector employees use the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Statistical Area Level 4 (SA4) classification. SA4s are the largest sub-state regions in the Main Structure of the ASGS and are designed for the output of a variety of regional data. SA4s represent labour markets. For ease of reporting, the PSC has amalgamated the SA4s that make up the Greater Sydney metropolitan area into Sydney East and Sydney West.

Areas of government this report covers

This report discusses the performance of the Public Service, government sector and public sector, which are defined below.

  • The Public Service includes those employed under Part 4 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (NSW) (GSE Act) in the service of the Crown.
  • The government sector, as defined by the GSE Act, includes the Public Service, the Teaching Service, the NSW Health Service, the Transport Service of New South Wales, the NSW Police Force and other Crown services such as the TAFE Commission.
  • The public sector incorporates the government sector and other government agencies, including the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Audit Office of New South Wales, the Parliament of NSW, the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, and State owned corporations such as water and energy companies.

The data in this report relate to the public sector, unless otherwise specified.


The Commissioner would like to acknowledge the assistance of:

  • PSC staff members who developed this report – Chris Lamb, Emilie Priday, Adam Bove, Nicholas Di Michele and Andrew Novak
  • the PSC Advisory Board – Sandra McPhee AM (Chair), Vince Graham AM, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, Jordan O’Reilly, Geoff Stalley, Michael Coutts-Trotter, Michael Pratt AM and Tim Reardon (until June 2021)
  • the Customer Insights team in the Department of Customer Service for its work on the CSMS
  • NSW public sector agencies for supporting the People Matter survey and Workforce Profile collection, and for sharing their stories
  • Editor Group and Metro Graphics for their expertise in editing and designing, respectively, this report.