Public service values taken for granted in push for private sector recruits

Blithe ignorance of the most basic public management principles has sparked a broadside call about risks of hiring private sector hot shots for public sector leadership roles.

The shocking misuse of public funds by the board and senior managers of the publicly owned Mt Buller and Mt Stirling alpine resort demonstrates the risk of public bodies hiring executives from the private sector, according to Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass.

A strong sense of frustration and disbelief comes through in her excoriating report, which details a list of inappropriate perks blithely enjoyed by the board chair, chief executive, property manager and other employees.

In arrangements that might be acceptable in some privately owned companies, there were also tales of freebies to family and friends for no discernible business purpose, and questions about conflict of interest around contracts with a company part-owned by the CEO’s wife.

Their responses, on the other hand, collectively display an almost unbelievable level of ignorance about why their behaviour was unacceptable for the stewards of a government-owned company. Glass sees a “cultural risk associated with private sector individuals” that needs to be taken seriously during recruitment processes for directors and other employees of public enterprises like the ski resort.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.