Kathy Leigh... promoted to head of the territory?s public service.

Kathy Leigh... promoted to head of the territory's public service. Photo: Graham Tidy

The head of the ACT’s Justice and Community Service Directorate has been promoted to chief of the territory’s public service.

Kathy Leigh will officially start work next week as head of service and director-general of the Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate.

Her appointment came as Chief Minister Katy Gallagher also announced that cabinet would not be expanded to include a sixth minister until the beginning of the new financial year in July.

Ms Leigh replaces Andrew Cappie-Wood, who resigned last year to take up a position in the NSW public service.

Ms  Gallagher said she had been impressed by Ms Leigh’s performance in the Justice and Community Safety Directorate over the past five years.

“I think there’s been some huge challenges across those portfolios in areas like corrections, and also in the courts,’’ Ms Gallagher said.

She had watched over the past five years how Ms Leigh had approached those challenges professionally, Ms Gallagher said. Ms Leigh had  ‘‘managed to bring people with her as she’s gone through a very significant reform process and delivered the results’’.

Ms Leigh, a former first assistant secretary and acting secretary in the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, is believed to be the first woman to head the ACT public service.

Ms Leigh said she was committed to continuing the process of turning the ACT bureaucracy into “one service’’ where different agencies worked together as seamlessly as possible.

“We’ve come along way in achieving one service,’’ Ms Leigh said. “I think we need to be very focused on the fact that when the people of Canberra deal with the government, they don’t really care which part of the government  it is that’s responsible for something.

“We need to respond to that so  people don’t have to go looking around and dealing with multiple areas.’’

Ms Leigh said the government’s tight budgetary position meant the public service needed to be more focused than ever on ensuring taxpayers’ money was used effectively and efficiently.

“That’s our responsibility at any time,  but when you’ve got a tight budgetary environment it’s all the more important,’’ she said.

Ms Gallagher said funding for  a sixth minister would be allocated in the budget with the minister to begin work next financial year.

 “That gives Kathy Leigh and I the opportunity over the next couple of months in lead-up to the budget to refine the structure of the public service as we want it – better align it to six ministers –  and then take some decisions.’’

Ms Gallagher said the appointment of an additional cabinet member would help make ministers’ workloads more manageable.  “It’s all around the workload and also setting the assembly up for a larger assembly in years to come.’’ MLAs are expected to agree later this year to the expansion of the assembly in 2016 from 17 to at least 25 seats.