Commissioner: the ‘knot in my stomach’ over insulation findings


New Zealand's Industries Await May 28 Budget

Bureaucrats failed to heed the warning signs in the home insulation rollout in the haste to deliver for government, the public sector commissioner has admitted.

The Commonwealth’s public sector chief has questioned the sense of personal responsibility among bureaucrats, describing the “knots in our stomach” over the failings identified by the royal commission into home insulation.

Speaking frankly on a panel of public sector commissioners at a conference in Perth, Stephen Sedgwick said the royal commission identified “capability issues that hadn’t been properly thought through” and “governance matters that didn’t properly get addressed in the haste to get it done in time”.

And he questioned performance management frameworks in the public sector, which are institutional rather than directed at individuals. “They don’t say Bill or Betty stuffed up, they say Department X,” he told the audience at the Institute of Public Administration Australia annual event. “… the sense of personal responsibility that people feel when something goes wrong is not as strong as it should be.”

“There is something about the way we go about the performance management, the accountability, the feedback loop that we probably have to work on. And I have a suspicion that the sense of personal responsibility that people feel when something goes wrong is not as strong as it should be,” he said.

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  • Andrea Grosvenor

    Agree that the bureaucrats in the Depth of Environment should have pushed back. And what about the bureaucrats in the central agencies who were pushing them?