Auditor-general Grant Hehir has decided not to look into Centrelink's debt recovery efforts, as requested by shadow minister Linda Burney. He'll wait
Government agencies around Australia are standing up to support the campaign to end violence against women today for White Ribbon Day.
ALL THINGS P: The federal government wants to know which open data would be most useful to business, researc
We recently moved our readers to a new system. You may need to reset your password here to login.
Not a member ? Join here for free.
Forgot your password?
Home Features Policy proof: Mrdak on Infrastructure’s evaluation renaissance
Text size :
DEPARTMENTSDepartment of Infrastructure and Regional Development
TAGS Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Evaluation, Evaluation methods, Mike Mrdak
It’s not good enough to simply enact the policies of government and assume it’s all going according to plan, says one department head. Public servants need to make sure policies aren’t just good on paper by rediscovering the lost art of evaluation.
Evaluation is a scary word that conjures up images of scathing past audits for a lot of public servants. But it wasn’t always that way, according to Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development secretary Mike Mrdak.
Speaking to the Canberra Evaluation Forum yesterday about his efforts over the past five years trying to build a new culture of “evaluative thinking”, Mrdak said the difference between internal evaluation and external auditing had become lost on some sections of the department. Evaluation had been in decline right across the Australian Public Service since around the dawn of the millennium.
“Up until the turn of the last century … we had a very strong, centralised focus on evaluation through the Department of Finance, and the decision to effectively devolve responsibility for that and to no longer provide resourcing for that function … has become a great risk and cost to the Australian Public Service,” Mrdak told the CEF, a group formed by Finance in 1990 that spun off as a not-for-profit and was absorbed into the Institute for Public Administration Australia’s ACT Branch in 2013.
In the secretary’s view, one result of decentralising responsibility for evaluation was a loss of “enthusiasm and motivation” across the service. “And I think as a result, evaluation fell quickly across the APS among competing priorities, and with it went … much of the cultural thinking and the skills to be able to conduct, plan and manage evaluations.” It was in this context that Mrdak, shortly after becoming departmental head in 2009, set out to put evaluation front and centre in the minds of his staff.
Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.
The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
Read Related Content
Education costs went up significantly over 10 years without a commensurate improvement in school performance. Evaluation is the answer, a Productivity Commission inquiry has decided.
When conducting evaluations don't try to do everything in one go -- maintain a tight focus and resource properly, recommends DFAT. And make sure you follow up once it's done.
Hiking fuel excise is essential for building the infrastructure needs ahead, the Commonwealth's senior infrastructure bureaucrat told a conference this month.