Reputation and Demography of the Public Service

Couple of presentations this week by Lynelle Briggs, the Australian Public Service Commissioner.

First one is on responding to demographic change in the Australian Public Service.  It provides a decent overview of the operating environment facing the APS with changing demands being placed on service delivery and the challenge to recruit, retain and develop the people we need.  She also talks about the requirement for more flexibility in workplace practices – but different for younger and older cohorts. 

We covered some of these topics in an APSC Better Practice Forum on Workforce Planning Futures seminar that I conducted with Bronwynne Jones and Tess Walton in June this year.  What the Commissioner did not go into detail though was on the serious longer-term implications for the APS and that there is quite a deal of uncertainty on these topics.  In particular, will there be a continued demand for human contact in service delivery or will there be a furher trend towards seld-service on the Internet?  In addition, in a shrinking market of workers, to what extent will the power balance shift from employer to employee?  How will this affect the APS?

The second, ‘Building the reputation of the Australian Public Service’ was mentioned by Verona Burgess in the Financial Review on Friday.  There was an excellent description of the eight high-risk behaviours that can impact on the reputation of the public service.  These were change initiated by crisis management rather than regular and systematic analysis, poor allocation of resources to business needs, financial over and underspending, inadequate corporate planning and business plans, bad reports from Auditor-General or Ombudsman, ineffective information management, signs of unresponsiveness and a lack of staff and stakeholder surveys.  Many public sector agencies that I have worked with can tick off a number on this list!

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