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Public service watchdog reappointed

Annwyn Godwin has been reappointed for another five years as Merit Protection Commissioner, charged with ensuring government agencies make fair employment decisions.

The statutory position within the Public Service Commission plays a key role by independently reviewing actions affecting individual public servants.

Ms Godwin joined the public service in 1990 and had extensive experience in SES ranks before moving into her current position.

Minister for the Public Service Gary Gray said Ms Godwin had performed impressively and diligently and was respected by her colleagues for her mature, fair judgement and professionalism.

"[The Commissioner] ensures that the APS values are being applied effectively by agencies, their agency heads and staff," he said.

Ms Godwin said recently her role was to discover and report on public service agency decisions, from minor administrative errors to serious defects in process and policy.

"I use the insight I gain from performing my statutory role to assist the APS agencies and their employees to understand their respective responsibilities within the APS employment framework in order to minimise the potential for recurrence," she said.

"This role gives me a unique position from which I can make observations on merit and its operation in the APS."

The Merit Protection Commissioner handled 17 whistle blowing reports in 2011-12 including finalising the eight cases carried over from the previous year.

The complaints received from public servants concerned allegations of bullying and harassment, making false complaints, failure to follow agency procedures and bias in decision making.

The commissioner received 56 applications for review of a decision that a staff member had breached the code of conduct.

Her annual report says inappropriate use of IT systems, including internet and email, continues to be the predominant action reviewed, with 17 cases having some degree of IT involvement.

"Ten of these cases concerned the inappropriate use of email systems, including the inappropriate distribution and storage of email messages or images, four involved forwarding confidential material outside the agency and three involved inappropriate access of agency records," the report says.

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