Gary Johns was Senior Fellow at the conservative Australian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, and the head of its Non-Government Organisation Unit. He joined the IPA in 1997 and left in 2006.
In March 2006 he joined the consultancy company, ACIL Tasman as a senior consultant "advise corporate and government clients in relation to social policy analysis in employment, education, immigration, Aboriginal affairs and corporate social responsibility." 
Johns was elected as a Labor Party representative to the House of Representatives in 1987 and served as the Special Minister for State and Assistant Minister for Industrial Affairs in the Keating Labor Government to 1996. In 1997 he joined the IPA as a member of staff.
In 2002, he was awarded the Fulbright Professional Award in Australian-United States Alliance Studies, and was based at Georgetown University's Centre for Australian and New Zealand Studies in Washington D.C. . His studies in the US were part of work as head of the IPA's Non-Government Organisation Project which "studies NGO transparency and accountability, particularly in their relations with government and the corporate sector in the formation of public policy." 
At an awards ceremony for the Australian Fulbright Award recipients Johns said "I believe Fulbright gives us the obligation to do the best we can in our time in the U.S. and to build relations, and also to deepen and improve our understanding and knowledge and then to apply it and try to make this a better place, 'this' being the U.S., Australia and the world." 
While in the US Johns spoke at a seminar organised by the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Myron Ebell with the topic "NGOS: What do we do about them?".  In June 2003 Johns also spoke at a seminar hosted by the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society titled "The NGO Challenge: Whose Democracy Is It Anyway?". 
In 2003, he was appointed as an Associate Commissioner of the Commonwealth Productivity Commission, a government policy research and advisory body.
- "Gary Johns Senior Fellow, Institute of Public Affairs, Australia: Biographical Details", 2004.
- Pdf of cached Bio profile on IPA website, January 2006.
- "Dr Gary Johns joins ACIL Tasman", Media Release, March 27, 2006.
Articles and reports by Johns
- Gary Johns and John Roskam, "The Protocol: Managing Relations with NGOs", Institute of Public Affairs, April 2004.
- Gary Johns, "When 'charity' really means 'lobbyist'", The Age (Melbourne), June 12, 2004.
- Gary Johns, "Participatory Democracy: Cracks in the Facade", IPA Backgrounder, July 31, 2005.
- Gary Johns, "Deconstructing Corporate Social Responisbility, Institute of Public Affairs, August 5, 2005.
- Gary Johns, "Integration must take over from separatism", The Australian, September 22, 2005.
- Gary Johns and Don D'Cruz, "Charity begins at home for the collectors with closed books", Sydney Morning Herald, January 18, 2006.
- Various articles by Johns on Bennelong Society website, accessed Aporil 2006.
- Gary Johns, "Government without a cause, attacking its friends", The Australian, April 29, 2010.
- Competitive Enterprise Institute, "Gary Johns To Discuss NGOs at CEI", November 7, 2002.
- "Fulbright 2002 National Awards Dinner at Australia's National Parliament House", Fulbright Quarterly Newsletter, October 2002.
- Paul Kerin, "Do-gooders gone wrong: Truly responsible companies are improving shareholder value rather than trying to win corporate beauty contests", BRW, May 5, 2005.(Mentions Johns criticisms of corporate social responsibility).
- Gary Johns, "A charter to affirm rights that we already have. Who needs it?" The Age, January 25, 2006.