Shergold’s failure forum: rethink risk, create plan for success

Martin Parkinson calls it the quintessential mark of leadership. A right stuff-up or two shouldn’t stop public servants rethinking risk — just as the Department of the Environment has begun to do — to enable more blue-sky thinking.

The Department of the Environment has begun devolving responsibility down to lower levels and appointed a chief risk officer, after facing 10 major external reviews since the botched Home Insulation Program of 2009.

Secretary Gordon de Brouwer said the department had done “an enormous amount” of work in response to the scrutiny of the past seven years, speaking to members of the Institute for Public Administration Australia in Canberra on Monday — video online via IPAA ACT and contentgroup.

At the same time, he said all the proposals in Learning from Failure — University of Western Sydney chancellor Peter Shergold’s recent attempt to explain why the HIP and other big government projects sometimes fail catastrophically — were still of “direct relevance” to Environment. ” … every person at every level can and should be expected to display leadership … ”

The department is also striving to learn from a more recent error — the ignorance of skinks and snakes that led to ministerial approval for the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland being overturned and then re-issued — without making scape goats.

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