The federal Treasury Department does not listen to anyone else, Foreign Affairs does not talk to anyone else and Finance is not very good at talking to itself.

These are some of the frank and fearless criticisms in the latest round of ''capability reviews'', the warts-and-all report cards produced as part of the long-term reform effort in the Australian Public Service.

And staff at all three of the high-profile departments, considered among the elite of the bureaucracy, quite frankly need to get a life, according to the Public Service Commission.

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The commission's review teams have employed diplomatic language to confirm what the capital's bureaucrats have muttered about other departments for years. Treasury, for example, was found to be a high-performing ''can-do'' department with a ''strong and dominant culture'' and a commitment to perfection in its output.

But the commission politely suggested that the department might sometimes seem a little ''arrogant and dismissive'' and that people around town might not appreciate it.

''There is a widespread view among stakeholders and line agencies that Treasury is closed to external experience and expertise and that practical implications are not always given sufficient consideration in forming policy advice,'' the review found.

''The department has been variously described as institutionalised, proud and lacking exposure to non-Treasury ideas and practices. A number of stakeholders still referred to Treasury as arrogant and dismissive.''

The possibility of Treasury officials perhaps getting out of the office a bit more was also raised by the review team. ''A sustained commitment to promoting work-life balance may be needed to ensure the concept is effectively understood and entrenched within the Treasury DNA,'' the commission wrote.

Foreign Affairs and Trade won praise for its self-motivated and committed staff, their dedication to getting the job done and DFAT's highly regarded responses to overseas crises such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami or Christchurch earthquake.

But there was the small matter of DFAT's organisational ''culture'', with other public servants complaining Foreign Affairs was a ''closed shop''.

''DFAT still faces difficulties in clearly articulating to outsiders what it does and adequately measuring the outcomes of its activities,'' the review team wrote.

''DFAT is seen as too detached from the work of the APS as a whole, not contributing sufficiently to (or learning enough from) the wider public service.''

Even departmental secretary Peter Varghese was quoted in the report saying his staff were living in DFAT's ''self-contained universe''.

Finance and Deregulation impressed the review team with its highly skilled and professional approach, the ''remarkable spirit within'' the workforce and workers' high regard for their boss David Tune.

But the commission worried about the level of togetherness at Finance and expressed concern that people might be taking advantage of the situation.

''Co-ordination and a common sense of direction and purpose across the department has … proved difficult,'' according to the review team.

''The image of the department as a 'federation' is reinforced by the geographical location of groups, including some of the deputy secretaries, in different buildings."