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Rush of jobs for departmental secretary and agency head sidekicks

The new year has started with a rush of $200,000 to $300,000 public service jobs as several large departments look to introduce new blood and fresh ideas at the elite management tier answering to secretaries and agency heads. 

Golden gigs were up for grabs at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Department of Health and Department of Social Services, Australian Taxation Office, Defence Department, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, IP Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive. 

Some of the jobs come with politically-sensitive baggage. The Tax Office wanted an assistant commissioner to look after its huge "people" division - overseeing human resources amid 4700 job cuts - and DFAT was searching for a general manager of security and property to work for Austrade and manage its overseas and domestic consulates at a time of heightened terrorism alert.

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation needed a deputy chief scientist to "shape the future direction" of the organisation, which some feared was under threat of privatisation after the Commission of Audit raised the possibility last year.  

Other coveted public service jobs available were for first assistant and assistant secretary positions. 


Public service expert Professor John Halligan, from the University of Canberra, said the jobs of high-level executives in the federal bureaucracy were becoming more challenging, as there was a greater need for them to come up with ways to get their message through to increasingly enclosed ministerial offices. 

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Professor Halligan also said the higher the pay grade, the more executives were required to think about long-term issues. 

"I've encountered people at the sub-SES level who just do their job and keep their heads down, narrow in their horizons, but to go up you need to think broader," he said. 

The Department of Health and the Department of Social Services teamed up in their recruitment drive in an attempt to find the best talent.

First assistant secretaries, attracting packages worth close to $300,000 a year, were being sought in the areas of portfolio strategies, medical benefits, the office for sport and indigenous and rural health.  

The two departments wanted assistant secretaries to help oversee the areas of regional services grants, medical specialist services and the national integrity of sport. 

The Department of Social Services also was advertising senior executive level two jobs.

Group manager positions may be available in areas of the department dealing with social security, families and communities, corporate and delivery, disabilities and housing, ageing and aged care.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet wanted a first assistant secretary to oversee human resources, business support services including property and facilities, records management, departmental security, procurement, travel and library services and ICT functions.