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Senior Executive Fundamentals

Machinery of Government

The term ‘machinery of government’ refers to the way government functions and responsibilities are allocated and structured across government agencies. 

Machinery of government changes are a major driver of organisational change within the NSW government sector. They are used by the NSW Government to express policy priorities and meet policy challenges. Effective management of machinery of government changes to minimise transitional risks and associated costs presents an important challenge to senior executives.

Machinery of government changes vary greatly in scope and complexity and can involve: 

  • the abolition or creation of new government entities
  • the merger or absorption of entities
  • small or large transfers of policy, program or service delivery responsibilities to other entities.

The decision to make machinery of government changes is made by the Premier. Machinery of government changes are formally set out in Administrative Arrangements Orders, which are made by the Governor under the Constitution Act 1902. The Department of Premier and Cabinet provides instructions to Parliamentary Counsel’s Office on the drafting of any Administrative Arrangements Orders requested by the Premier. All Administrative Arrangement Orders are published on the NSW legislation website.

The heads of agencies subject to machinery of government changes are responsible for implementing them. For more complex changes, central agencies are also involved in providing guidance and monitoring progress.

As a senior executive you may be responsible for ensuring that machinery of government changes are implemented effectively. If a machinery of government change occurs you need to adhere to the guidance of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Treasury as the central agencies who manage these changes. 

There can be significant consequences if these changes are poorly implemented and it is your responsibility to understand how these changes will impact your people, business processes and our customers. You should work collaboratively with other affected agencies to ensure a smooth transition to new operating arrangements.