Appointments & staffing

It is important to be aware that different legislative frameworks can apply to entity appointments and staffing.

Many entities operate under the provisions of the Public Service Act 1999 or other common acts such as Defence Act 1903 and Parliamentary Services Act 1999.  

Other entities have their own employment provisions in their enabling legislation.

Topics covered in this section of the guide:

  • Appointments
  • Staffing

Useful resources and contact information are available in the tables below.


Accountable authority (Chief Executive Officer/Agency Head)

The appointment of the accountable authority will be governed by the enabling legislation or other relevant legislative requirements. The Cabinet Handbook provides guidance about these appointments, including those that require approval by Cabinet. The Cabinet Handbook also lists contact details for the Cabinet Secretariat within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, where assistance is required.

Appointments can be made under the Public Service Act 1999 or under another Act.

The APSC Integrity, Performance and Employment Policy group can arrange a briefing for new Australian Public Service (APS) agency heads on their responsibilities under the Public Service Act. Contact

The accountable authority of a Commonwealth entity has certain duties and responsibilities under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). The online Guide to the PGPA Act for accountable authorities supports accountable authorities in understanding and meeting these duties and responsibilities.

Finance also offers face to face briefings to new accountable authorities.

Remuneration and other terms and conditions for accountable authorities may need to be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. Executive Remuneration is publicly reportable.

Multi-member accountable authorities

Accountable authorities can be either a single person or multi-member. Multi-member accountable authorities, such as a board of directors, are more common in corporate Commonwealth entities.

Enabling legislation will normally set out who the members of a multi-member accountable authority will be, including how many there are, what skill sets are required and who appoints them, along with procedures to be observed and employment terms. 

Among things that make for a successful multi-member accountable authority are a well-versed and knowledgeable secretariat and a common understanding among the members of their group responsibilities and goals.

Persons invited to become a member of an accountable authority should be made fully aware of the responsibilities under the PGPA Act and the entity’s enabling legislation before being appointed. Do not assume that they are familiar with being part of the Australian Government and their accountability to Parliament. 

Key Tasks





Consult with the Remuneration Tribunal Remuneration and terms and conditions of employment for the new office holder will need to be established. The Remuneration Tribunal's role is to determine, report on or provide advice about remuneration, including allowances and entitlements for offices within its jurisdiction.  

Remuneration Tribunal Secretariat enquiry line

02 6202 3930

Appointment of the accountable authority

(Public Service Act)

Executive agency - Appointment is by the Governor General following an order made in the Gazette.

Other Commonwealth entities - Described in the entity’s enabling legislation.

Merit and Transparency Policy

APS agency head briefings

APSC: Executive Remuneration and Statuary Offices

APSC: Integrity, Performance and Employment Policy

Appointment of the accountable authority

(Other than Public Service Act)

The appointment of the person or group of persons who govern your new Commonwealth entity will be described in the entity’s enabling legislation.


Merit and transparency portal


APSC: Executive Remuneration and Statuary Offices



Your enabling legislation sets out whether your entity is an APS agency employing staff under the Public Service Act 1999 or has other staffing arrangements.

An entity can also be established in legislation as ‘dual staffing’ i.e. it may employ some staff under the Public Service Act and other staff under provisions in its enabling legislation.

APS agency

The Public Service Act, establishes an integrity framework for all APS staff and agency heads and is the legislative basis for the APS Values, APS Employment Principles, including merit based recruitment, and the APS Code of Conduct.

APS agencies will need agreement from the Public Service Minister on the number of senior executive roles that will be filled – their senior executive Cap.

Terms and conditions

Employment terms and conditions, including pay rates, are established in each entity’s industrial instruments. This could be through individual common law contracts or collectively through a determination based on the Public Service Act (or an APS agency) or enabling legislation (for a non-APS agency).

A common approach is to establish a comprehensive determination setting out all terms and conditions to apply across the entity. New entities should seek legal advice when establishing a comprehensive determination, as it may interact with other relevant industrial awards. 

All Commonwealth entities are subject to broader Commonwealth employment policies such as the Government’s bargaining policy of the day. All new entities should engage with the APSC early in the process, as it administers the Government’s bargaining policy. 


In some cases, staff are made available to a new entity from another organisation. This arrangement may be established in the enabling legislation, or it may occur though formal or informal secondment arrangements, transfers, or memorandums of understanding between entities.

Depending on the new entity functions, staff may be moved into the new entity from other Commonwealth bodies through Machinery of Government provisions in the Public Service Act.

The way in which an entity will recruit new staff depends upon whether or not it is an APS agency employing staff under the Public Service Act, or has other staffing arrangements described in its enabling legislation.


All jobs in the APS that are for a period of more than 18 months are advertised online at APSjobs.

Jobs are also advertised on individual agency websites and jobseeker sites.


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