What an agency MUST do in a review

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Information on what an agency MUST do in a review process

What must an agency do in a review process?

The review of actions scheme is a statutory process.

There are 8 main things that an agency must do:

Agency review

  1. undertake reviews of eligible applications, and
  2. provide information on privacy, and
  3. record evidence relied upon, and
  4. advise applicants of outcomes and right of review to the Merit Protection Commissioner.

Assisting the Merit Protection Commissioner with reviews

  1. make available evidence relied upon in agency reviews, and
  2. meet timeframes for providing information, and
  3. consider confidentiality, and
  4. advise applicant of outcome of Merit Protection Commissioner review.

Consistent with the Australian Government Digital Transition Policy, all APS agencies are invited to electronically lodge review of action paperwork by email to review@apsc.gov.au To assist with this process we have developed business rules for electronic lodgement of applications for review of action by the Merit Protection Commissioner and checklists (also available on the Resources page).

Steps 1 and 4 how must agencies undertake reviews and advising of review rights?

If an employee legitimately applies for review, and the action is reviewable, an agency head must review the action and make decisions.

There are few constraints on how agencies conduct reviews (Regulation 5.27).

If the review is about disputed facts, usually an inquiry to establish facts is required.

A review may involve:

  • listening to and considering an employee's concerns
  • assessing available documents and relevant argument.

Formal reviews are only one option for an agency to resolve employment related issues.

Information on other options is available.

The agency head must tell the employee in writing of (Regulation 5.27(5)):

  • any decision made on the review application
  • the reasons for the decision
  • any action to be taken as a result of the review
  • the right to apply for secondary review to the Merit Protection Commissioner.

Steps 3 and 5 how must agencies record evidence and make the evidence available?

Recording evidence in agency reviews

All the evidence considered by the reviewer must be documented and kept on file.

This includes keeping records of interviews with the applicant or other review participants.

Interviewees are usually given the opportunity to accept the content of the record of interview and to clarify the reviewer's understanding of what they said at interview.


A record of all evidence considered in the review is important if the review applicant wishes to apply for an external review by the Merit Protection Commissioner (Regulation 5.30).

Agencies must make available to the applicant all relevant documents relied on in their review when an applicant makes a request for a secondary review.

Step 6 what timeframes must agencies meet?

Agencies must provide information to the Merit Protection Commissioner in the required timeframes. 

These timeframes are different for primary and secondary types of reviews.


Timetables to provide information...Comment

Primary review

The applicant has applied directly to the Merit Protection Commissioner for a review of:

No specific timeframe.

General policy (Regulation 5.1(3)): 'Employee's concerns are intended to be dealt with quickly, impartially and fairly.'

Merit Protection Commissioner considers 14 days is a reasonable period for forwarding all relevant papers.

Secondary review

The applicant is dissatisfied with the review undertaken by the agency. They have applied to the Merit Protection Commissioner for a review of the agency decision.

The agency must refer the application to the Merit Protection Commissioner and provide all information relevant to the primary review.

Promotion review

This must happen within 14 days, although the agency can apply for an extension.

The review team contacts the agency and asks for selection documentation to be provided within 14 days. Regulation 5.17 requires the agency to provide the information in the time specified.

Steps 2, 5 and 7 what confidentiality and privacy requirements are a must for agencies?


Agencies must not guarantee confidentiality when gathering evidence for reviews conducted within the agency.

Information gathered in the primary review by the agency is made available to the Merit Protection Commissioner and review applicants if employees apply for secondary review by the Merit Protection Commissioner (Regulation 5.30).

Privacy issues

Review applicants and witnesses must be given information about the likely use and disclosure of personal information gathered in the course of review (Privacy Act 1988).

Information on the Merit Protection Commissioner's Privacy Policy is available.

Step 8 is there information that must be given to review applicants in writing?

The Merit Protection Commissioner advises the employee of the outcome of the review and makes a recommendation to the agency head in writing. The agency head must consider the recommendation and make a decision.

The agency head must tell the employee and the Merit Protection Commissioner in writing of (Regulation 5.33(4)) of their decision and the reasons for the decision.