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Government Agency entry Public Service Board (1895 - 1988)

New South Wales

New South Wales
Regulatory Body


The Public Service Board was established under the Public Service Act, 1895 to replace the Civil Service Board (1885-1895). The Public Service Board was to consist of three full-time members appointed for a term of seven years and being then eligible for re-appointment. The new Board was appointed on the 15 January, 1896 . The functions of the Board were to carry out inspections of departments, grade officers and classify work, hear appeals against decisions made, conduct inquiries and investigations, arrange for examinations for officers to be conducted, keep minutes of meetings and furnish annual reports.

The Departments administered by the Public Service Board in 1902 where the Chief Secretary’s Departments, Treasury, Attorney - General’s, Lands, Public Works, Justice, Public Instruction, Mines and Agriculture, and the Office of the Public Service Board.

The Public Service (Amendment) Act, 1910 provided for the creation of Departmental Boards, repealed the provision regarding quinquennial grading and altered provisions regarding the transfer of temporary employees to permanent staff. The Departmental Board consisting of the Under Secretary and Branch Head of the relevant Department, and a Public Service Board member were to make salary determinations for all classifications below branch head level. Appeals from dissatisfied officers could be made to a tribunal of the two other Public Service Board members not involved in the Departmental Board. An inconsistent decision by this tribunal allowed a further appeal to a tribunal of the two Public Service Board members and District Court Judge.

The Public Service (Amendment) Act, 1919 followed from the Royal Commission appointed in 1917, providing for Board members to hold office for life, for the Chairman to possess the right of over-riding the votes of the other members, for the appointment of Public Service Inspectors, and for the subjection of Heads of Departments along with all other appointments in the Service to the provisions of the Act

In September 1979 the new Public Service Act, 1979 (Act No.89, 1979) repealed most of the 1902 Act and brought some fundamental changes to Public Service management in the State. Under this Act the Public Service Board no longer oversaw the management of the Public Service or exercised a continuous inspecting role. The Board had to comply with directions issued by the Government, except in its traditional personnel functions of salary determination, classification of work, grading of officers, recruitment and promotion. Any directions by the Governor in Council be published in the Government Gazette. Department Heads were deemed clearly responsible for the management of their organisations and directly accountable to the appropriate Minister. The Board’s day to day inspectorate role was replaced with a program of efficiency audits. Ministers could now request the Board to conduct special inquiries. The public sector employees not regulated by the Act included, judges and senior legal officers, The Director of State Lotteries, police and parliamentary employees.

Departments became responsible for many major activities which up until then were administered by the Board, such as promotion, and they now had more flexibility in managing their operations. The Board retained those functions which required central co-ordination, such as industrial matters and base level recruitment, and was to have a close liaison with both Departments and Statutory Authorities in conducting efficiency audits and special inquiries, providing management consultancy and advice, and monitoring and reporting on Departmental personnel policies and practices.

Under the Public Sector Management Act, 1988 the Board was abolished on 2 September 1988, with devolvement of its functions to department heads. The new Office of Public Management, headed by the Director of the Premiers Office, was to assist with the organisation and administration of the public sector, and the functions of the Premier under the Act included securing the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the Public Service. Responsibility for industrial relations was placed with the new Public Employment Industrial Relations Authority.

Ross G. Elford