Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick puts lazy bureaucrats on notice

Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick puts lazy bureaucrats on notice

The public service has no place for workers who don't "pull their weight" in an environment of growing intolerance for "mistakes or waste”, one of the nation’s top bureaucrats has warned.

Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick also took a swipe at “activities that do not matter,” and says the service has to improve its performance management and accountability - or risk being replaced as the main service provider to government.

Australian Public Service Commissioner, Steve Sedgwick.

Australian Public Service Commissioner, Steve Sedgwick.Credit:Melissa Adams

As the list of agencies and departments looking to offload staff through redundancy processes grows, Mr Sedgwick has been in Malaysia telling a conference of international public sector leaders that Australia’s bureaucracy must continue to reform itself.


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The commissioner said that the public sector has to play a part in the drive for greater productivity in the Australian economy, even if it was difficult to measure the productivity output of a public servant.

But in a time of efficiency dividends, job losses and with most departments and agencies struggling with their budget positions, performance management and accountability had to improve.

“There’s been lots of talk about improving efficiency and effectiveness, new ways of thinking about design and delivery of services and a favourite topic of mine, accountability and performance management,” the Commissioner said.

“As resources tighten, we cannot afford to have resources wasted on activities that do not matter; nor can we afford staff who do not pull their weight.

“We have work to do here which has the potential to transform the efficiency and effectiveness of workplaces by changing the way that staff are tasked and their performance is managed.”

The commissioner told the conference at the Borneo resort of Kuching that moving with the times and meeting the modern needs of citizens and governments while engaging young people were all vital, if the public service was to keep its position as the main provider of government services.


“Addressing these is critical if we are to remain the policy and service delivery providers of choice to governments in a contested marketplace for ideas and solutions,” Mr Sedgwick said.

“The risk otherwise is that we in public service become less relevant to citizens and those elected to represent them; and others fill the void.”