Morrison reveals Services Australia changes, comms department amalgamation

PM to slash government departments from 18 to 14

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Services Australia will be transformed into an executive agency sitting within the Social Services Department as part of an overhaul of the Australian Public Service’s (APS) structure announced today by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison announced the creation of Services Australia — a successor to the Department of Human Services — as part of a May 2019 . Modelled on Services Australia, the department reports to government services minister Stuart Robert.

As part of that round of changes, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) was moved from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to Services Australia, giving it oversight of government service delivery policy, whole of government information and communications technology, and ICT procurement policy and services.

(Last week Robert announced the release of an update to the government’s digital transformation strategy, with the minister revealing his ambition to explore the creation of a “whole of government technology architecture”.)

The changes announced today by the prime minister will reduce the number of government departments from 18 to 14. That includes the absorption of the Department of Communications and the Arts into a new mega-department: The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Another new entity is the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, which will bring together the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the energy functions of the Department of the Environment and Energy, and small business functions currently delivered by the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Businesses.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment will amalgamate the Department of Education and the remainder of the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will consolidate the Department of Agriculture and the environment functions from the current Department of the Environment and Energy.

“Australians should be able to access simple and reliable services, designed around their needs,” Morrison said in a statement.

“Having fewer departments will allow us to bust bureaucratic congestion, improve decision-making and ultimately deliver better services for the Australian people.

“The new structure will drive greater collaboration on important policy challenges. For example, better integrating the Government’s education and skills agenda and ensuring Australians living in regional areas can access the infrastructure and services they need.”

The changes will take effect on 1 February.

The government last year announced the creation of the Department of Home Affairs, which brought together the areas of immigration, border protection and domestic security and law enforcement.

A review of the APS lead by David Thodey in September submitted its final report to the government. The government is yet to publish the report or its response.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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