Politics with Michelle Grattan

On the ‘creeping crisis’ in the public service

August 13, 2019

Scott Morrison has voiced his intention to shake up the federal public service - seeking to make it more efficient in implementing the government’s agenda. A review of the public service led by David Thodey is now finished.

Meanwhile, Professor Beth Noveck and Professor Rod Glover have released a timely study of the public service, titled Today’s problems, Yesterday’s toolkit. Commissioned by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, it builds on interviews with almost 400 public servants - most of them Australians.

In this podcast episode, Noveck and Glover discuss the “creeping crisis” of effectiveness and legitimacy the Australian public service is facing.

"Blunt public sector management tools, including hiring freezes, efficiency dividends, and funding cuts that hobble innovative or experimental initiatives, are creating what interviewees for this study describe as a creeping crisis for the public sector."

To reverse this trend, they say the government must ensure public servants have a “ 21st century toolkit” to solve public problems. They point to the private sector’s “use of creative problem-solving methods, enabled by new technologies” as an example to follow.

They argue that “improving individual skills provides the linchpin for tackling public problems and restoring trust in government”.

The report is now available online and open to the public for comment.

Additional audio: 

A List of Ways to Die, Lee Rosevere, from Free Music Archive.

 

Image: 

Shutterstock