A time to be silent and a time to speak

Richard Mulgan   How impartial is Australia's new top public servant, Martin Parkinson?

Latest articles

The commissioner's confused reforms

Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd has a plan to send elite executives to private companies .

Paddy Gourley   The two professional heads of the APS seem to have contradictory ideas about what's hampering the bureaucracy.

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Good govt requires more than mere memories

Another public service department has rejected a proposed pay deal.

How do we 'fix' policymaking? Respect institutions, evaluate policies properly, and discuss them deeply and openly.

Is Turnbull sticking with the 'programme'?


Public Eye   Which spelling of this mundane, yet now politicised, word has the imprimatur of the highest office in the land?

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Ten tricks to seem smart during aid meetings

Ask the presenter if they have a sustainability plan, a useful way to kill time.

Gary Owen   Like public servants, international development workers rely on a mastery of meeting-craft.

'My colleague breathes heavily near me'

'Learning to say "no" is as good for a woman's soul as the vote and Amy Schumer.'

Jacqueline Jago   Public service advice column: we put your workplace conundrums to an executive coach.

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Tackling staff underperformance

Making the effective management of underperformance a KPI would give managers 'skin in the game'.

John Wilson   Far more good comes from dealing with poor work than ignoring it.

How to dump Trump

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump makes a shooting gesture during a press conference in Iowa.

John Hart   The party's Byzantine nomination rules may pose too great a barrier to the front-runner.

When are terrorists not terrorists?

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Clive Williams   We regard our allies in the fight against Islamic State as worse than the Afghan Taliban.

The ILS has no place in recruitment

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Ann Villiers   Hiring the 'best and brightest' requires far more innovation than simply ditching selection criteria.

Three whinges about writing style

Illustration by Pat Campbell.

Richard Mulgan   Our irrational overuse of numbered lists does nothing to improve critical thinking. And they are rife in the public service.

APS war on 'red tape' is misguided

<i>Illustration: Michael Mucci</i>

Paddy Gourley   It's trendy to say the public service needs to be 'agile'. What a load of absolute twaddle.

The dangers of scrapping job selection criteria

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Andrew Podger   Job criteria aren't always used well, but getting rid of them opens the door to nepotism and inappropriate influences.

Privacy hooliganism: Jones & the NSW police


Public Eye   We know we shouldn't take this broadcaster seriously. So why does the NSW government?

Effective public service (yes, it happens)

Stuart Robert at the 2015 awards ceremony last week.

Stephen Bartos   This year's Prime Minister's awards again show that not all criticism of the bureaucracy is well-founded.

Model litigant: govt as a 'moral exemplar'


John Wilson   Government agencies are required to be model litigants, but enforcement is lacking.

Merger may be a crime against common sense

Crime in Canberra increased over the December quarter.

Colin Campbell   An internationally renowned research agency is being snuffed out after 43 years, with almost no debate.

Anzac Centenary Minister too busy to bother?

Australian soldiers at Gallipoli.

David Stephens   The government seems to have accepted it no longer needs a 'minister for the RSL'.

The lands that democracy forgot

The Commonwealth recently closed down Norfolk Island's elected Legislative Assembly.

Roger Wettenhall   The Commonwealth is smothering the distinctive cultures and societies of these communities.

Kerr's secret ANU seminars before dismissal

Governor-general Sir John Kerr and Gough Whitlam in Parliament in July 1974, when Kerr had just begun the role.

Stephen Holt   In September 1975, legal academics mostly backed the governor-general's view that his reserve powers existed.

'Why does my boss want me to be coached?'


Yvonne Richards   Public service advice column: we put your workplace conundrums to an executive coach.

Open data to use, catch up with the world


Stephen Bartos   Public servants need to ditch the control and encourage entrepreneurship.

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It's not just cricket: declarations and nepotism


Public Eye   Naming the public servants who sit on tender assessment panels them would be a powerfully simple way to encourage probity.

The trouble with transparency

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Richard Mulgan   Senior public servants' attitudes are skewed in favour of confidentiality over disclosure, and with some cause.

Bizarre advice for public service managers

John Lloyd near his Melbourne office.

Paddy Gourley   The Public Service Commissioner is ditching decades of painstaking work.

We need agile staff who see beyond the routine


John Lloyd   Coming challenges will demand more from government employees.

The love song of an office flunkey


Chris Johnston   An excerpt from an unusual, and unusually interesting, book of verse about the meaning of life in Canberra.

Public servants as 'silent members of society'?


John Wilson   Just how free are government staff to speak their minds on politics?

Will privatising schools improve them?

Private education can work out to be very expensive but you can make plans so you will find it less of a burden.

Ian Marsh   Public sector innovation is harder than just using price incentives.

Loneliness at the top of the greasy pole


J. R. Nethercote   An excellent chronicle of government life as seen through the eyes of a prime minister.

'How do I become a good team leader?'

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Yvonne Richards   Public service advice column: we put your workplace conundrums to an executive coach.

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Re-imagining recruitment

Don't hire people based on whether they fit an inflexible checklist.

Bureaucrats' hidden gifts

No agency makes its staff gift registry public. Why on earth not?

The end-of-year splurge

When will the government scratch the surface of this problem?

Transparency fades

More than ever, FOI needs a strong independent advocate.

A jaded country

Politicians must cede control to independent agencies.

Halton's missed chance

Conflicts of interest in the APS are usually managed extremely poorly.

Star-struck job panels

The STAR recruitment model encourages dishonesty.

Death by slogan

The PM said he could do better than Rudd and Gillard. He hasn't.

Future of public transport

Why is Canberra buying trams, which are a 130-year-old idea?

The doomed culture wars

Redirecting taxpayers' funds has little effect over progressive 'bias'.

Bureaucrats' dodgy pasts

Hiring and firing the basis of past convictions can be unlawful.

Selling APS integrity

The public should expect better of the Treasury.

Discounting future lives

We can't afford to miscalculate the costs of runaway climate change.

SBS sacking is contestable

A tribunal will pay no heed to the broadcaster's political problems.

The Bjorn legacy

Embrace cost-benefit analyses, but be wary of their limits.

Chaos on Capital Hill

Any other secretary would have been pressured to leave.

The costs of fear

Does the counterterrorism budget stack up to cost-benefit analysis?