The public service saw a sharp spike in bureaucrats behaving badly in 2015-2016 with official investigations for breaches of the APS code-of-conduct soaring by nearly 30 per cent, the federal workplace authority has revealed.
The latest State of the Service report from the Australian Public Service Commission also reveals a lack of future opportunities was most commonly cited as the reason for leaving public service jobs in the past year.
This year's SOTS shows confidence in APS senior leadership is less than glowing, with fewer than half of workers believing their departments had "high quality" senior executives.
The public service made progress in its war on sickies during the reporting period, managing to reduce the average rate of "unscheduled leave" by a small margin of 45 minutes per year per worker.
But it is the first decrease in the key indicator in four years.
There were Code of Conduct investigations into 717 employees finalised in 2015-2016, a substantial increase on 557 in the previous year with 87 per cent of the accused found guilty.
Most wrongdoers received a reprimand, demotion or pay cut but 87 public servants were sacked for breaching the code.
Resignations from the service outnumbered redundancies for the first time since 2013, the report noted, but the most common reason given by public servants walking away from their jobs in 2015-2016 was a lack of faith in their future prospects if they stayed.
"The exit surveys show that it is imperative to provide attractive and flexible work environments," the report notes.
"This area will remain a focus for the APS, although staff turnover is relatively low."
The rate of "unscheduled absence" in the public service decreased slightly from 11.6 days per employees in 2014-2015 to 11.5 days, or about 45 minutes per employee per year, with the Commission noting the rate remains "high".
"The APS continues to investigate the drivers of workplace attendance and the connection between employee engagement and sick leave use," the report notes.
"The Commission is also examining the factors that influence leave-taking behaviour.
"The objective is to reduce the relatively high unscheduled absence rate in the APS."
This report also reveals lacklustre levels of confidence among rank-and-file public servants.
"In the 2016 APS employee census, almost 49 per cent of respondents agree that the SES in their agencies are of high quality," the report notes.
"In contrast, 29 per cent agreed that the SES in their agencies give their time to identify and develop talented people.
"It is important to note that, in both instances, over a third of respondents provided a neutral response to the relevant questions, neither agreeing nor disagreeing."
Public Service Commissioner said the report showed room for improvement.
"The APS can improve performance," the commissioner wrote.
"During 2015-2016, a review of APS workforce management identified a number of areas in which the APS can improve workforce practices.
"Driving high performance and increasing workforce flexibility are key priorities."