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PM talks changes for APS

public-service-shuffle_sept2019

THE PRIME MINISTER has outlined his future ambition for the Australian Public Service (APS) ahead of the Thodey review of the APS expected in the coming weeks.

Scott Morrison emphasised six key components in an address to the Institute of Public Administration in Canberra on the 19 August, which he hopes will “evolve” the public service.

Putting Australian middle class in sight

Overhauling service delivery to make interactions “simpler and less bureaucratic” and minimising congestion within departments and agencies was one key concept. From this a forward-facing approach from public servants would assist in tackling a public trust issue.

public servants should be more open
to “outsiders” (read outsourcing)

“There is strong evidence that the ‘trust deficit’ that has afflicted many Western democracies over recent years stems in part from a perception that politics is very responsive to those at the top and those at the bottom, but not so much to those in the middle,” he said.

“Looking beyond the bubble” in this case would shift the public service’s approach to place everyday Australian citizens in their line of sight when decision-making, mitigating this deficit.

Morrison affirmed performance and outcomes should also be a top priorities moving forward. Bureaucrats must set priorities and “look at the scoreboard” to measure their performance against citizen outcomes, and not just KPIs or promotions.

Privatising in the public service

A considerable increase in outsourcing within the public service has caused controversy in an ongoing APS review, but Morrison stated bureaucrats need to be “more open to outsiders”.

By utilising the knowledge of “external partners” and joining different departments, Morrison argued that government could harness skills and energy from outside those who “have only ever worked in public service”.

Keeping the public service apolitical

Urging the APS to focus on their honour code, Morrison reaffirmed the APS’s commitment to being apolitical, merit based and of a high integral standard.

However, ministers don’t need to be apolitical. Morrison argued that ministers “remain clear” about their policy direction, while public servants must respect their government’s policy direction moving forward.

“It is also about respecting the fact that responsibility for setting policy lies with the elected representatives of the people and expecting Ministers to provide that leadership and direction.”

SOURCE: Government News.  IMAGERY: Krzysztof Nahlik / Dreamstime; District Bulletin.

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