Public servants, political appointments and good government

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 19 July 2018

We need to inject some ultimate responsibility into public administration. The buck has to stop somewhere.

What was perceived in some circles as two highly political appointments to plum roles in the federal public service highlights a need to re-examine government administration in the 21st Century. Not because these appointments were necessarily inappropriate, but because they exposed a basic disconnect.

We still like to pretend we have an olde-worlde apolitical public service consisting of career bureaucrats who have no political leanings and/or are never influenced by them. If this was ever the case, it is no longer.

Worse still, the way public servants pursue their upward career mobility results in a surplus of generalists and a dearth of subject matter experts.

Continue reading “Public servants, political appointments and good government”

Generalists and specialists in the Australian public service. Why the ‘theory of empty spaces’ hurts public sector performance

By LAURIE PATTON | 19 April 2016

The other day I was talking to a friend who recently retired from the public service. After a career lifetime of studied discretion he now wears as a badge of honour his entitlement to express independent views. Many of these are critical of the processes that played a pivotal part in his rise to a very senior posting.

I have a number of colleagues who are now ex-public servants, having held extremely high level executive roles. I enjoy hearing about their work experiences more now that they are unencumbered by ambition. Continue reading “Generalists and specialists in the Australian public service. Why the ‘theory of empty spaces’ hurts public sector performance”