Scrutinising the costs of counterterrorism

Mark Stewart, John Mueller   Funds directed at a hazard that kills few are sometimes more productively directed at one that kills many.

Latest articles

Abbott's allegories of bad government

Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a doorstop at Old Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 26 February 2015. Photo: Andrew Meares

Paddy Gourley   Cheap politics is trumping good policy in the public interest.

Audit commissions and fake budget 'disasters'

Campbell Newman and his wife Lisa address LNP supporters on election night. The Queensland premier lost his seat and his part lost government.

Richard Mulgan   Business leaders who demand radical, unpopular policies do conservative politicians no favours.

Intelligence: sledgehammer for a few nuts?


Public Eye   It's time for an honest, open chat about the counterterrorism budget, what it buys and the extent to which we should be willing to pay.

Immigration's moving, but what are its limits?


John Wilson   Michael Pezzullo's department can legally transfer its staff out of Belconnen, though it may face several hurdles.

Performance management has lost its purpose

Man in suit sweating during an interview.

Deborah Blackman   To perform well, an employee must know not only what to do, but why it matters.

If debt talk turns to tax, will the Tele stay true?

<i>The Daily Telegraph</i>'s February 12 front page.

Markus Mannheim   If the Daily Telegraph wants a surplus, it will need to recant its past beliefs.

'We're struggling to manage underperformers'


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

In-house govt lawyers: write your own briefs

Former Attorney-General's Department secretary Roger

Markus Mannheim   The government's legal bills continue to rise despite significant cuts to agency budgets.

Comments 12

Fifty years on: Caiden's 'Career Service'

Public service commissioner Duncan McLachlan, who held office from 1902-1916.

J. R. Nethercote   Fifty years ago, one of the greatest works of scholarship on the federal bureaucracy was published.

Economic growth can make us happier

Illustration by Stephen Clark.

Andrew Leigh   Some argue that economic growth has 'gone too far'. We shouldn't lose sight of how much it helps us all.

Abbott's mockery of 'methodical' government

Illustration: Pat Campbell

Paddy Gourley   The Finance Minister needs to think more deeply about independence in the machinery of government.

Parkinson's fall: a lesson for secretaries

Martin Parkinson

Richard Mulgan   Senior bureaucrats should take part in public debates, but only with the consent of ministers and without provoking opposition parties.

Are public servants over or underpaid?

MONEY 040219 AFR .PICTURE BY Gabriele Charotte /   GENERIC money, purse, savings, bank, atm, economy, interest rates, home loan, wages, salary, superannuation, bills, notes, pay, coins, investment, share market, sharemarket, stock exchange, trading, shares, funds  , fifty-dollar notes, wallet, $50-dollar bills, cash. 50 dollar notes. 50 dollars

Markus Mannheim   It's time for a systematic review of public servants' pay: a genuine attempt to determine the value of their labour.

The fluffy argument behind asbestos secrecy


Public Eye   The ACT government's bizarre, and embarrassing, approach to the question of whether to tell Canberrans which houses may be toxic.

Lloyd equipped to tackle long-neglected woes

Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd in his new office last month.

J. R. Nethercote   The new commissioner may restore relevance to the Public Service Commission's work.

Norfolk Islanders' democracy is being stolen

An old whaling boat at Kingston, Norfolk Island.

Jon Stanhope, Roger Wettenhall   Federal Parliament appears to be removing a group of citizens' right to self-government without hearing arguments.

Luke Foley: from faceless man to media tart

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley.

Stephen Holt   The NSW Opposition Leader's many past rebuffs show he is in politics for the long haul.

No compo after boss snapped worker's breasts

Woman studying

John Wilson   A Queensland case highlights the shifting area of law that covers workplace psychological injuries.

'Do I tell my colleague I know they're gay?'


Jacqueline Jago   Your obligation to respect privacy extends to your colleagues. Gently signal support and then leave it alone.

'I don't know how to stop feeling bitter'


Jacqueline Jago   Public service advice column. We put your workplace conundrums and questions to an executive coach.

Corruption must be managed, not wiped out


Mark Jarratt   Security vetting, fingerprinting, drug testing and other "silver bullets" will not prevent staff misconduct.

When prejudice overwhelms good pay policy

Pay day, remuneration, money in envelope.

Andrew Podger   The labour market, not budget restraint, should determine the price of the skills the government needs.

Car allowances: a lesson in driving prices up


Public Eye   Senior executives have been receiving ever higher car allowances on the basis of "recovering" allegedly increasing costs - for no clear reason at all.

No tipping, please: a clumsy stance on climate

Steam rises from a chimney at the Junliangcheng power station in Tianjin, China.

Robin Davies, Jonathan Pickering   There are no good reasons for the Abbott government to refuse to support the fund and plenty of good reasons to take part.

The delicate dance of the PM's top bureaucrat

MAIN MAN: The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's new head, Michael Thawley.

Richard Mulgan   The Abbott government has shown no sign of seriously threatening the APS's non-partisan professionalism.

'Crying in the office? No thanks'


Jacqueline Jago   Coach at work advice column: we put your workplace conundrums to an executive coach.

Clearing a brief without breaking a heart

Red pen, editing

Jacqueline Jago   Supervising with sensitivity doesn't need to be a divine mystery.

Improving, but we must improve even faster

Australian Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick.

Stephen Sedgwick   The bureaucracy faces smaller budgets, a more demanding public - and the need to be better than ever.

Off to war in 1914, without a way of funding it

Gallipoli Peninsular; Turkey.

J. R. Nethercote   Australia entered World War I on the cusp of an election, and funded its military campaign illegally.

Chaos in Canberra as strike action nears


John Wilson   Large-scale disruptions to the bureaucracy would irritate the public and hurt the government.

Who cops it if a contractor breaks safety laws?

A caution sign warning of a wet floor.

Jennifer Wyborn, Emma Vautin   The punitive powers of the federal Work Health and Safety Act 2011 may stretch very far.


Smaller government

Mathias Cormann neglects the role for independence in government.

Are bureaucrats overpaid?

It's time for a systematic review of public servants' pay.

ACT's asbestos secrecy

The government's bizarre attempts to hide dangerous properties.

Ludicrous, pay policy

Linking pay to productivity at the agency level is bad economics.

Gough: the Pied Piper

Appraisals of the Whitlam era have been marred by selectivity.

The art of delaying 

Governments can't put off decisions forever.

Sex, spies and lies?

The spurious case against one of our finest servants: John Burton.

'Bully boss is killing me'

We put your workplace woes to an executive coach.

The Speaker & 'the Aussie'

The parliamentary row that reached from London to Canberra.

How worthy are cops?

The federal police appear to be suffering from medal fetishism.

Useful job descriptions

Agencies still struggle to write effective, helpful job descriptions.

'I hate my staff'

Judy and Carina: a common tale of our lack of self-awareness.

No trust and confidence

The recent Barker case shows agencies should play it safe.