Applying APS Values: Managing information

In February 2016 the APS Commission released a guide APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice.

Section 4 of the Values publication covers managing information. What’s relevant to applicants?

The material covers confidentiality of information, the value of good record keeping in meeting accountability obligations and how records provide evidence of communication, decisions and actions.

Relevant resources

If your role involves recordkeeping you may need to be familiar with relevant sections of the following:

  • Public Service Regulations 1999
  • APS Code of Conduct
  • Freedom of Information Act 1982
  • Privacy Act 1988
  • Crimes Act 1914
  • Archives Act 1983
  • Public Service Act 1999
  • Protective Security Policy Framework
  • Criminal Code Act 1995.

Part of an application or interview may involve showing your knowledge of these documents and their relevance to what you do.

Examples of where this material may be relevant
  • When it’s appropriate to disclose information and when it is not. This decision can be relevant to discussions with stakeholders as well as staff.
  • Information communicated in confidence.
  • Personal information and how it is used, including during recruitment processes.
  • Commercial-in-confidence information. Often relevant during procurement processes.
  • Making public comment in an official capacity. Relevant if your role is as a media spokesperson, representing your agency at a meeting, conference, consultation process.
  • Providing information to Parliamentary Committees of inquiry.

Section 4.7.2 sets out why good recordkeeping is important. This information is useful for explaining the value of your recordkeeping.

‘Good recordkeeping is important for an agency to:

  • demonstrate it has taken all reasonable steps to identify and manage risks
  • provide assurance that administrative processes are adequate and have integrity
  • record significant events and demonstrate consideration of policy alternatives and decisions
  • be able to review its decisions and processes to identify strengths and weaknesses in the process and lessons for the future
  • provide support for the Commonwealth’s position in the event of a legal challenge.’

Section 4.7.3 sets out other benefits of records beyond the conduct of Commonwealth administration. They also:

  • ‘assist the Government and the public to scrutinise the decisions and activities of Commonwealth institutions
  • allow the community to retain and transfer knowledge, learn from past experience, and protect the interests of Australians collectively and individually
  • help satisfy people’s interest in the decisions and actions of Government that affect their and previous generations’ lives or shaped the development of Australia.’

What to record and maintain is set out in 4.7.5:

  • ‘decisions by Ministers, and the basis for them, including advice on options and risks
  • program decisions, including decisions affecting individuals or individual businesses that may be subject to administrative review, together with the basis for the decisions and the authority for making the decision
  • significant events, including meetings and discussions with Ministers or stakeholders or members of the public which may be significant in terms of policy or program decision-making.’
Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.