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National

Gough Whitlam: Pied Piper of the baby boomers

J. R. Nethercote Appraisals of the Whitlam era have been marred by narrowness and selectivity.

Latest articles

Inquiry addiction: the art of delaying decisions

ballot bot

Grahame Morris Opinion There are benefits in seeking advice from outsiders but governments can't put off decisions forever.

Comments 8

Spy lies: the flimsy case against John Burton

Former departmental secretary and diplomat Dr John Burton in 1954.

Ernst Willheim It's time to withdraw public claims against one of Australia's most brilliant public servants.

Digging up the stark truth

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Public Eye The bizarre tale of Canberra's naked, frolicking executive, plus the Public Service Commission's disappointing decision to shield senior executives' payouts from scrutiny.

Needless secrecy surrounds contracts

Transparency secrecy generic

Richard Mulgan Opinion The bureaucracy, rather than private businesses, tends to be most enthusiastic about "commercial-in-confidence" embargoes.

Will we ever learn from our past debacles?

Soldier from the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando).

John Menadue Opinion 'Doing something' against Islamic State may make some people feel good but it won't deal with the problem.

Graduates in an old-world hierarchy

The long climb to the top.

Jacqueline Jago The challenge for agencies is to develop leadership models that keep their best young staff interested in a career in government.

Comments 26

'My bully boss is killing my career prospects'

Jacqueline Jago We put your workplace conundrums to an executive coach.

Legal limits of drug testing in the bureaucracy

Swab test: Courts have found the type of test - urine or saliva - affects its legality.

John Wilson How would courts react if the public service decided to drug test all of its employees?

What should agencies do when staff strike?

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood.

Jennifer Wyborn, Emma Vautin Industrial action is an evolving part of workplace relations law and a constant source of ambiguity for employers and their staff.

Risky business: pink batts and gung-ho policy

The deaths of four installers were linked to poor OH&S practices.

Richard Mulgan Opinion Public servants should heed the Hippocratic dictum: first, do no harm. If that makes them seem unduly risk-averse, so be it.

Our unexceptionally worthy AFP brass

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Public Eye We hope the federal police can avoid the kind of medal fetishism in which our military is mired.

'Get the people side right'

Allan Hawke

Allan Hawke Former departmental secretary Allan Hawke concludes his "People matter" series on managing staff.

Supervisors who hate their staff

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Jacqueline Jago Judy and Carina: a common tale of how our lack of self-awareness hurts others and ourselves.

'I've lost faith in my department'

Stressed executive

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

Elusive treasure: a useful govt job description

Generic newspaper job ads.

Ann Villiers Public servants still struggle with the basics of crafting an effective and helpful job description.

The Eurocrats behind our executive pay boom

Executive pay

Peter Wilson, Julia Pryor A law enacted by Brussels is forcing Australian businesses to change how they pay their top talent.

No 'trust and confidence' in contracts

Employment Matters dinkus

John Wilson Despite the recent Barker case, government agencies should play it safe by acting as model employers.

A good time to be a (bold) public servant

Bill Scales, inspector of Brimbank City Council in Sunshine, stands in front of a stained-glass window. Wednesday 16 September 2009. City of Brimbank. THE AGE, PICTURE BY CRAIG ABRAHAM

Stephen Bartos Opinion The bureaucracy is a great place to work - when its leaders are prepared to take risks.

Comments 11

'Innovation' snake oil and other business cant

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 29:  Jennifer Westacott has been Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia at China investment conference on August 29, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

Paddy Gourley Opinion Business Council chief Jennifer Westacott is at it again, telling the public service what it doesn't need to hear.

Don't sweep this mess under a big rock

Public Eye PSI dinkus

Public Eye Opinion The Indigenous Affairs Minister must not allow concerns about media commentary to hide a governance disaster.

Another defence review. Why not read the others?

HMAS Kanimbla. 
Source: Department of Defence

 


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David Smith Opinion The Defence Department was warned repeatedly against shedding technical staff, yet that is what it is now doing.

Together, we can lift this trainwreck

Strength in unity: Perth commuters push against a train to free a passenger’s trapped leg.

Nadine Flood Opinion The government has picked a fight with its staff. But does it have a strategy to win in the long term?

Comments 47

'Direct action' that could save the economy

Light bulbs.

Keywords:  Black Background, Bright, Color Image, Efficiency, Energy Efficient Lightbulb, Environmental Conservation, Fluorescent Light, Fuel and Power Generation, Glowing, Horizontal, Light Bulb, No People, Photography, Screw, Tungsten

Michael Smith The G20 summit is Australia's chance to begin addressing its poor productivity performance.

'Mr Perky is sleeping with my boss'

generic. Gossip whispering office workers
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Human Ear
Secrecy
Male
Female
Men
Women
Businesswoman
Businessman
Suit
Office
White Collar Worker
Confidential
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Curiosity
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Disbelief
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At Attention
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Talking
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Human Mouth
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Jennifer Wyborn, Jacqueline Jago Public service advice column. We put your workplace problems to an employment lawyer and an executive coach.

Lies and trickery in the job market

Employment?Matters?thumbnail for Public Sector Informant.

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John Wilson Even a little white lie in a resume could lead to an APS code of conduct investigation, or worse.

Remember when public servants were impartial?

Pat Campbell cover illo for Public Sector Informant, August 2014. ABC, SBS, public service, public servants, appointments, impartiality

Paddy Gourley Opinion Too many government officials are seemingly ignoring their legal obligation to be apolitical.

Comments 51

Loosen the reins, end the pointless spats

Australian coat of arms.

Stephen Bartos Opinion Australia needs Tony Abbott's mooted reforms of the Commonwealth-state relations to succeed.

Comments 16

Forgotten plan for an anti-graft agency

Eddie Obeid

Richard Mulgan The NSW ICAC's bag of scalps does not necessarily mean a federal version would work well.

The dull work of heretics

Public Eye PSI dinkus

Public Eye A recent experience suggests that Attorney-General's Department officials are taking slavish devotion a tad too far.

At war on four fronts: Robert Gates

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates speaks during a joint news conference with Japan's Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo October 21, 2009.  REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao (JAPAN POLITICS)

J R Nethercote The US defence secretary served both Republican and Democrat presidents, but his memoir shows he did not enjoy the role.

A privileged chief and his discourteous dispute

Michael Pezzullo

MARKUS MANNHEIM Opinion When public servants enter Parliament to give evidence, they step beyond the Public Service Act's reach.

Comments 9

The derailing of a bizarre misconduct inquiry

Employment?Matters?thumbnail for Public Sector Informant.

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John Wilson A little common sense goes a long way in helping disciplinary investigators avoid embarrassing errors.

Coaching staff while managing them

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Jacqueline Jago The Public Service Commission wants all managers to be coaches, too. But what does that actually mean?

'The minister's office wants a contract altered'

Generic man on phone

Jennifer Wyborn, Jacqueline Jago Counsel & coach advice column: we put your workplace conundrums to an employment lawyer and an executive coach.

Some advice: Google 'staff engagement'

Google.

Allan Hawke Former departmental secretary Allan Hawke continues his 'People matter' series on managing staff.

Where are the women in business and government?

Pat Campbell raw image for Public Sector Informant cover, July 2014. Women, gender, executives, management, public service, business

Allan Hawke Former department head Allan Hawke continues his 'People matter' series on managing staff.

Hiding behind cabinet's cone of silence

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Stephen Bartos Opinion New Zealand has shown that doing away with unnecessarily secretive traditions poses no harm.

It may seem 'smaller' but it's not 'rational'

National Commission of Audit chair Tony Shepherd joins in the laughter as Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann says

Paddy Gourley Opinion There is no evidence of 'methodical thinking' behind the latest restructures of once-independent agencies.

Costing the public service cuts

Dinkus for Public Eye column of the Public Sector Informant

Public Eye We acknowledge that the Parliamentary Budget Office has a tough gig, but its advice to the Coalition on reducing the bureaucracy was poor.

The ethics of public servants' sexual secrets

Sunday Life  it's not only men having affairs adultery. models photographed at the Arthouse hotel, August 12th 2004.  SMH Sunday Life Photography by Stephen Baccon. spb040812.001.001 SPECIALX 26739 , affair , bar , nightclub , infidelity , generic, legs

MARKUS MANNHEIM The new Public Service Act makes it easier for bureaucrats to conceal conflicts of interests. Why?

Comments 16

Nepotism, patronage and public trust

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LAW, JUDGE, COURTS, SUPREME COURT, BARISTER, QC,
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David Solomon Has government in Australia changed so dramatically that merit is now seen as admirable but impractical?

Managing your boss to boost your career

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ILLUSTRATION BY MICHAEL FITZJAMES
LADDER WAR SOLDIERS BUSINESS

Jacqueline Jago Public servants can use the APS work-level standards systematically to gain their next promotion.

'I need supervision but worry about asking'

Small business generic SPECIAL 240710 Stress paperwork businesses headache
BRW Picture by iSTOCK

Jennifer Wyborn, Jacqueline Jago Counsel & coach advice column: we put your workplace problems to an employment lawyer and an executive coach.

Forty years on: the Coombs commission

ARCHIVE 50000:971119:SMH NEWS: PIC-FILE: Queensland Dr Herbert Cole Coombs 17 May 1967.***FDCTRANSFER***

J R Nethercote Too often, governments set up inquiries to investigate the public service without knowing what they are seeking.

Labor town or just an effective party branch?

121020 NEWS Canberra Times Photograph by Graham Tidy Story by Tallyroom staff. ACT Election, At the Labor Party function at the National Press Club. Labor leader, Katy Gallagher during her speech, is accompanied by Andrew Barr.

Stephen Holt The Canberra branch wins elections because it resists union power and pursues enlightened social policies.

Shining a little more light on the budget

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Richard Mulgan The Parliamentary Budget Office has proved useful, though it is hampered by confidentiality.

In government, small isn't always efficient

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Christopher Stone The evidence on public sector efficiency tends to be ignored or misrepresented to suit other agendas.

Selling the budget's 'stinking carcass'

More than a thousand Students protest the Abbot Hockey Budget on the steps of the State Library and then march on Parliament House in Melbourne.
21st May 2014. Photo by Jason South

Stephen Bartos Opinion Last month's budget was only the first instalment of reforms that Australia must undergo.

Comments 29

'All politics, no policy': Abbott nails himself

Prime Minister Tony Abbott congratulates Treasurer Joe Hockey after he delivered his first budget.

Paddy Gourley Opinion The Abbott government's once useful political mantras have turned it into a policy cul-de-sac.

Comments 213

A pillar of irony? Some not-so-ancient wisdom

Dinkus for Public Eye column of the Public Sector Informant

Public Eye The words quoted by Angus Taylor on budget morning are a stirring warcry for conservatives, but they are not Cicero's.

'We deliver pizzas, not policies'

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MARKUS MANNHEIM British civil servants are embracing plain English, while our reports seem more arcane than ever.

Comments 12

The latest Australian Border Farce

Sea Patrol

Opinion A former customs officer reflects on the government's plan to revisit past failures.

Motivation always trumps the myth of talent

Outside linebacker and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith of the Seattle Seahawks holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy following victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 48 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on February 2, 2014. Seattle's Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns and the Seahawks' ferocious defense overwhelmed Denver's record-setting offense, forcing three turnovers on the way to a stunning 43-8 victory in Super Bowl 48.   AFP PHOTO /   Timothy  A. CLARY

Allan Hawke Former departmental secretary Allan Hawke continues his 'People matter' series on managing staff.

Cut waste with a scalpel, not a hammer

generic sledgehammer 
for sport. use once

Alexander Philipatos Opinion The dividend's usefulness has expired. Governments need to be more deliberate in how they cut spending.

A testing time for APS wage bargaining

The CPSU held a protest outside the Public Service Commission in Woden.

Jennifer Wyborn, Nathan Moy This round of bargaining will be brutal, and any gains in pay and conditions must be clearly offset.

Comments 44

Counsel & coach: The trouble with feedback

Stressed out woman in home office computers

Jennifer Wyborn, Jacqueline Jago We put your workplace problems to an employment lawyer and an executive coach.

Love hurts: legal risks of office romance

Affairs, sexual harassment, office romance, relationship, flirting.

John Wilson When workplace relationships end in tears, the legal fall-out can affect employees and employers.

Bringing the ABC back home

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Jock Given Why restrict the ABC's focus when, in the online age, every broadcaster is international?

Selection criteria mistakes to avoid

preparing a resume - generic pic. Think Stock.

Sharon Akinyi To get a look-in, job seekers need their first impression - their application - to shine.

The Diary: November

Courses, conferences and events for public servants.

The Speaker & 'the Aussie'

The row that stretched from London to Canberra.

Ethics all at sea

Stopping the boats, and corrupting the state.

Lost age of impartiality

Too many officials are ignoring their obligation to be apolitical.

Comments 51

Where are the women?

Allan Hawke's 'People matter' series on managing staff.

Starving the FOI watchdog

The Office of the Information Commissioner was set up to fail.

'All politics, no policy'

The Libs' once useful mantras made it a policy cul-de-sac.

Comments 213

'We deliver pizzas, not policies'

British civil servants are embracing plain English; ours are not.

Comments 12

The audit's not that bad

Public service reforms will take a lot of time and negotiation.

Comments 23

Operation Absurdity

The Abbot government might as shut up the accountability shop.

Waiting for government

Coming up with effective policies is harder than the Coalition expected.

Comments 67

The trouble with 'truth'

Adapting to a new government's language and philosophy is normal.

Idiocy of the freeze

The government must resist blind, across-the-board spending cuts.

Crusade of dated ideology

The audit commission's advice will contain a lot of 1980s thinking.

Comments 9

Yes, Prime Minister

Public servants must learn what type of minister they now have.

Comments 2

Nonsense jobs

Why are we not all working three- to four-hour days?

Comments 98

A 'cancer on democracy'

The temptation to spend voters' own money is just too strong.

The to-do list

Andrew Podger's wish-list for building a better government.

Forecasting folly

Treasury's budget guessing game and circus that surrounds it.

Operation Sunlight?

The budget papers contain too little meaningful information.

A good global citizen

We must not allow uncertainty to destroy faith in our aid program.

And the next faux crisis ...

Professional sport is entertainment. So why is it so heavily regulated?

Young talent drowning

How will we react to the next immigration scandal?

Cheers to the end of days

How long before we realise that people just don't care?

Informant: the blog

The latest titbits from the editor of The Public Sector Informant.