‘Public servants are doing political work, staffers are doing policy work’

Cost shifting and efficiency dividends have created a cult of the individual agency over a unified public service, says policy and public sector expert Ian McAuley. Public servants are also losing touch with the public as consultants and staffers take over.

Australia’s public service is “a hell of a good asset there that is not used to its potential” thanks to poor management and interference, says public sector expert Ian McAuley.

GovernomicsMcAuley (pictured), who recently published a book titled Governomics: Can We Afford Small Government? with Miriam Lyons, told The Mandarin that managerialism and politicisation have “really infected the whole public sector”, creating an impediment to effective public administration.

KPIs have become ends in themselves, McAuley said: “You have to have goals, but unfortunately we get a set of performance indicators that morph into perfomance measures and eventually morph into goals themselves. They’re not really measures, they’re simply indicators.”

A small government culture that sees the public service as unworthy compared to the private sector does not help, argues McAuley. He recalls a course he ran a few years ago for newly-recruited public service graduates.

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