First Principles Review: Creating One Defence

The First Principles Review was commissioned in August 2014 to ensure that Defence is fit for purpose and is able to deliver against its strategy with the minimum resources necessary.

The review identified the need for Defence to cease operating as a federation of separate parts and become an integrated organisation. This was termed the 'One Defence' approach.

The review was founded on 7 principles:

  • Clear authorities and accountabilities that align with resources: decision-makers are empowered and held responsible for delivering on strategies and plans within agreed resourcing.
  • Outcome orientation: delivering what is required with processes, systems and tools being the means not the end.
  • Simplicity: eliminating complicated and unnecessary structures, processes, systems and tools.
  • Focus on core business: Defence doing only for itself what no one else can do more effectively and efficiently.
  • Professionalism: committed people with the right skills in appropriate jobs
  • Timely, contestable advice: using internal and external expertise to provide the best advice so that the outcome is delivered in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.
  • Transparency: honest and open behaviour which enables others to know exactly what Defence is doing and why.


To create the One Defence business model and give effect to the principles, the review identified 6 recommendations:

  • Establish a strong, strategic centre to strengthen accountability and top level decision making.
  • Establish a single capability development function within Defence to maximise the efficient, effective and professional delivery of military capability.
  • Fully implement an enterprise approach to the delivery of corporate and military enabling services to maximise their effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Ensure committed people with the right skills are in appropriate jobs to create the workforce.
  • Manage staff resources to deliver optimal use of funds and maximise efficiencies.
  • Commence implementation immediately with the changes required to deliver One Defence in place within two years.


First Principles Review (PDF, 4.21 MB)