Tasmanian State Service under review by former PM&C secretary

By Stephen Easton

Monday November 4, 2019

child sex abuse Tasmania
The specific charges and the man’s government agency remain unclear.(Image: thewest.com.au)

Tasmania’s public service is under review by Dr Ian Watt, a former secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet who also led the Defence, Finance, and Communications departments during his career in the federal government.

Premier Will Hodgman has released draft terms of reference for public comment during November, and expects a final report by the end of December, 2020.

“The State Service Act 2000 was developed in the late 1990s, and at nearly two decades old, it is high time we undertake this Review to ensure the service is best placed to serve Tasmanians today and into the future,” Hodgman said in a statement.

“The Review will identify structural, operational, service, practice and legislative improvements to ensure the public service is in the best shape to deliver the services Tasmania needs.

“The Government also wants to ensure it is doing everything it can to attract and retain the best possible people to the Tasmanian State Service and that it identifies ways to help develop the long-term capability of all State Service employees.”

Watt has been asked to “focus primarily on the governing framework of the TSS” and propose “structural, legislative and administrative improvements that will transform current structures, services and practices to deliver a more efficient and effective public service” but the government expects him to deliver “broader findings related to operational and cultural improvements” through the process.

However, “cultural and operational matters unrelated to the governing framework of the TSS” are out of scope.

“The review will not include wages policy and conditions for public sector employees that are negotiated through awards and agreements,” the Premier added.

Other matters outside the scope of the Watt review include: employment issues related to employees who do not work under the State Service Act, like the staff of state-owned corporate entities; the role of unions in the public sector; and overall staffing levels. The review is forbidden from considering “the introduction of either a minimum or maximum target” for the number of public servants on the payroll.

The public sector unions do get one place on a reference committee, however, along with one person from the not-for-profit sector and an additional “six to eight members with public and private sector experience” to provide advice and views from the community and industry. Watt will also be supported by agency heads and a project team in the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

There are nine terms of reference:

  1. Promoting public service change and innovation that delivers public policy and service delivery to improve the client experience and meet the needs of governments and the community;
  2. Identifying opportunities to deliver government services, programs, projects and other initiatives more efficiently or effectively, including information technology platforms;
  3. Identifying ways to promote collaboration and partnerships including to support more flexible movement between the private and public sectors;
  4. Achieving greater economies and efficiencies in TSS administration, including opportunities to streamline bureaucracy and services where suitable;
  5. Examining the feasibility, effectiveness and efficiency of further decentralisation of government services;
  6. Facilitating areas of cultural change within the TSS (e.g. promoting risk-based decision making, promoting innovation, improving accountability and identifying ways to enhance performance);
  7. Identifying ways to help develop the long-term capability of the TSS;
  8. Implementing enhanced workforce management processes across the employee life cycle, including opportunities to implement improvements to how the TSS manages and recognises employee performance;
  9. Attracting, developing and retaining a skilled public sector workforce with the capacity to meet emerging economic, social and technological opportunities and challenges.

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