Home Affairs staff can expect more deployments to different teams in response to the COVID-19 crisis, department secretary Michael Pezzullo has said.
The prominent bureaucrat said the federal public service needed to shift to a model that deployed staff to new tasks rather than working in narrow silos.
Mr Pezzullo told the Institute of Public Administration's podcast on Monday that his department, created in a 2017 restructure of the national security apparatus, had permanently adopted staff deployments to tasks.
"The ethos and the organisational culture that we are instilling is that yes you've got a desk or you've got a workstation, that's where you put your bag down in the morning and that's where your home is, but by the end of the day you might well be deployed under something else and if you embrace that, that's terrific," he said.
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The Home Affairs Department had matched skills among staff and created teams responding to the pandemic, Mr Pezzullo said.
Staff working in the department's teams for communications, the Home Affairs website, and liaison with ethnic communities were assembled into a new group countering disinformation during COVID-19. Mr Pezzullo indicated it was uncertain when some of the newly-assembled units might be disbanded.
"How you wield, mix and match your capabilities and bring those bricks together, which potentially might be for years in some cases because some of these teams I suspect will be going through into next year and maybe depending on how the situation unfolds, well into 2022 as well, or it might be for three weeks or three months," he said.
Departments, home divisions and branches however should remain as a base for staff professional development, career and performance management, and payroll, he said.
"We need to have departments of state because you need to have accountability, you need to have budgets that are allocated, but increasingly we should be working in this much more flexible and fluid way."
Mr Pezzullo said department secretaries at a retreat next week would discuss to what extent the public service should embrace the disruption of COVID-19 and its organisational consequences.