Mandarins to close the gap: new APS indigenous procurement, personnel targets

Commonwealth mandarins have to meet strict new employment and procurement targets to put more money in the pockets of indigenous Australians. Cabinet will have a very low tolerance for failure.

The minister left little wiggle room: the Australian Public Service will meet ambitious new targets to employ and do business with more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

That is the message cabinet has delivered to federal mandarins ahead of Close the Gap Day, and any failure will be noted, says Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.

The new targets, announced today, are to have 3% of the Commonwealth government’s procurement contracts go to indigenous suppliers by 2020 and 3% of its workforce indigenous by 2018. Speaking at a lunch event at Parliament House hosted by indigenous business council Supply Nation, Scullion did not mince words as he explained how public servants would be held to meeting them, and what would happen if they don’t.

“I will be watching,” the minister said of the employment target. “This is a KPI to secretaries. This is a KPI for department heads. If it’s something you fail in, we will note that failure, and movement up and down the political scale within the public service will no doubt take place.” The remarks could be interpreted as a threat that failure could result in a loss of ministerial confidence.

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