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Public Sector Informant : PSI - October
2 THE PUBLIC SECTOR INFORMANT [OCTOBER 2010] your annual report we can help nationalpublishers.com.au writing, editing, layout, production National Publishers Ian Davis 02 6239 3923 Email firstname.lastname@example.org NATPUB364 10-01337/1 99 london circuit. tel 6257 9995 call us now for expert information and advice on your employment issues. Visit our new website www.nicholasdibb.com Feeling like Fair Work is passing you by?.... HBA Consulting HBA Workplace Investigations HBA Consulting has undertaken many workplace investigations over the years.To deal with the increasing demand from public sector agencies we have established HBA Workplace Investigations. HBA Workplace Investigations offers the highest level of experience and professionalism. 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Ph: 02 6247 4490 Email:email@example.com www.hbaconsulting.com.au H.R & Workplace Relations Specialists October 2010 CONTENTS 3 Public Administration: Appointing a new PM&C secretar y now would risk undermining the bureaucracy's professionalism -- Richard Mulgan 4 Public Administration: To regain the public's trust, the bureaucracy must learn to admit to its mistakes -- Stephen Bartos 5 Leadership: The best public ser vants strive continually to find more efficient ways to spend public money -- Lee White 6 Integrity: The APS is not nearly as politicised as commentators tend to describe it -- Paddy Gourley 8 Personnel: Job selection panels regularly flout the merit principle in favour of "commonsense" decisions -- Suzanne Eggins 26 Histor y: The bureaucracy's postwar leaders were, in many ways, the architects of modern Australia -- J. R. Nethercote 28 Personnel: The changed politics of the 43rd Parliament require a dif ferent kind of public ser vant -- Terry Fewtrell 29 Science: Commercial concerns, risk aversion and closed-access copyright are compromising scientific advice -- Michael Borgas 30 PSI Diar y: courses, conferences and events 31 Notes for File: Even hung parliaments eventually get back to work, much to the section's regret -- Charles Augustus Dent 32 Language: Ef fective use of Jargon will help keep the public, and your superiors, at bay -- George Fripley EDITORIA L Markus Mannheim Phone: (02) 6280 2230 firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING Karl Chamberlain Phone: (02) 6280 2361 email@example.com [ PUBLIC EYE ] A brief for whom? TREASURY and the Finance Department pleasantly surprised onlookers last week by publishing their incoming government briefs, albeit censored versions, on their websites. Freedom of information requests had prompted the departments to issue the red books pre-emptively, which no doubt frustrated those who hoped to obtain the briefs exclusively. But the Informant cannot fault the approach and, as a publication that repeatedly urges government to get over its often pointless secrecy, congratulates those behind the decision. Let's see more of it. The documents themselves are surprising- ly unremarkable and, even allowing for the redacted text, contain mostly material that is available publicly elsewhere; indeed, poten- tial cabinet ministers should already have been aware of most of the content. There are some interesting titbits, though, such as Finance signalling its desire to prune Defence's funding privileges and its sugges- tion that agencies share corporate services. However, the Informant cannot help but suspect that the red books were written with their potential public release at least partly in mind. What drives this suspicion further is that the briefs -- which were finalised after Labor's post-election negotiations with the Greens and Independents -- make excellent cases for adopting what is now Government policy as opposed to what was Labor policy. Even though Treasury's red book appears to advocate against Labor's pre-election stances on climate change and population, those positions were so clearly products of a desperate campaign that they were always going to be abandoned. One also wonders why Treasury makes the case for a parlia- mentary budget office, when it implies the department is deficient. After all, if Treasurer Wayne Swan had not selectively briefed a journalist during the campaign and thus allowed the Coalition to falsely accuse public servants of leaking, there would likely have been no debate over whether Parlia- ment needed such an office. One test of the red books' quality and objectives would be to compare them with those prepared for the Coalition. Unfortun- ately, Finance secretary David Tune says that, as his department did not complete the blue book ''and because the Coalition did not have the opportunity to review its content, it will not be published''. Treasury also noted Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's ''strong views . . . that release of incoming government briefs would contravene the Westminster conventions''. There's some merit in their decision, but one hopes the blue book reflects the same policy arguments as the red. Intellectual honesty demands it. Facilitating a coup LAST week, elements of Ecuador's police and military forces mutinied and attempted a coup d'etat (which, as the Informant went to print, appeared unsuccessful). Less well known is that, 21G2 months earlier, Ecuador's military police set up a ''prevention wing'' comprising 400 soldiers. Our facilitation sources were abuzz with the news, so we looked deeper. The wing utilises ''invincible defence technology'', which its troops learn by practising transcendental meditation twice a day. The wing's success apparently requires a number of soldiers at least equal to the square root of 1 per cent of the country's population (382 troops in Ecuador's case). The American behind the unusual scheme, management scholar Dr David Leffler, explained it to his facilitator-followers in July. ''The recently established prevention wing of 400 yogic flyers in the security forces of Ecuador is already big enough to create invincibility for the country. This week, a new layer is being added: the main officers' training academy has started [tran- scendental meditation], and in a few months there will be a further 700 yogic flyers . . . Already, relations between Ecuador and Colombia are improving.''All of a sudden, the rebellion begins to make sense.
PSI - September