Victorian DPC shake-up: Chris Eccles rings in the changes

By The Mandarin

Thursday January 15, 2015

New Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is making his mark on the bureaucracy, with hand-picked public service chief Chris Eccles launching a radical restructure of the Department of Premier and Cabinet yesterday.

The Mandarin understands the department’s three deputy secretaries — Brendan Flynn (policy and cabinet group), Joanne de Morton (governance and operations group) and Mark Duckworth (intergovernmental relations and citizenship group, acting) — have been moved on and given other senior roles within the department.

A new management line will be appointed. But Eccles (pictured), a new recruit from the New South Wales public service, told staff yesterday there would be no job losses.

It’s understood a new structure — effective from March 2 — has been built around policy priorities for the new government, decentralising some functions to spread out the responsibility.

The policy and cabinet group has been split into separate economic and social areas, one source says.

An emphasis has also been put on workplace planning and staff development, with a “culture” team to be appointed at the department for the first time.

One staffer told The Mandarin it’s the biggest shake-up of the central agency “ever”.

Spring Street players were still piecing together the ramifications today, but the mood is said to be buoyant. There’s “excitement” about changes some say were a long time coming.

The Mandarin has asked for clarification from both the department and the Premier’s office but hasn’t heard back.

Eccles took over the department in November after former secretary Andrew Tongue was sacked a day after Labor won back office. Eccles headed the NSW DPC (before being thrown out when Mike Baird replaced Barry O’Farrell as premier) and previously was secretary of South Australia’s Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

Eccles was seen as a moderniser of the NSW bureaucracy and was brought in by Andrews as a new broom in a beefed-up department he saw ripe for reform.

DPC is taking on the new portfolios of Equality and the Prevention of Family Violence under machinery of government changes introduced on January 1. It’s also providing assistance to a host of agencies including the Independent Broad-Based Anti-corruption Commission, the Victorian Electoral Commission and the Auditor-General, and will co-ordinate the sale of the Port of Melbourne.

The Health and Human Services departments were merged, under secretary Dr Pradeep Philip, and a new Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources brings together a range of portfolios contributing to the state’s economic development under the direction of secretary Richard Bolt. Nine departments have been reduced to seven overall.

More at The MandarinVictorian service reshuffle: super-departments born

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