In early September, the Prime Minister gave an important but little reported speech that included the establishment of the Advisory Group on Reform of Australian Government Administration, led by the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Terry Moran.
The Advisory Group has been tasked with delivering a blueprint for reform of Australian Government Administration by early 2010. The blueprint will outline steps needed to rejuvenate the Australian public service and enable it to serve the government by addressing the challenges facing Australia in the 21st century.
The initiative seeks to build the “world’s best public service”. In developing this, the Advisory Group will consider reforms to improve the performance of the public service in delivering:
- A values driven culture that retains public trust;
- High quality forward looking and creative policy advice;
- High quality, effective programs and services focused on the needs of citizens;
- Flexibility and agility; and
- Efficiency in all aspects of government operations.
One of the critical questions facing the Advisory Group is how to develop a more flexible and agile public service. The Rudd Government has made specific moves to develop and implement delivery type programs in agencies that have traditionally been more concerned with policy development, rather than practical program delivery. PM&C Secretary Terry Moran has compared the Federal Public Service unfavourably in this respect to its state counterparts. Most recently, the Grech – OzCar program from Treasury (underwriting car dealer finance plans) illustrates the problems that can be encountered.
Since the announcement, Mr Moran has announced an additional nine members of the Advisory Group, including Treasury Secretary Dr Ken Henry, DEWHA Secretary Robyn Kruk Professor Glyn Davis, and (Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Chris Blake (NAB) and Carmel McGregor (acting Australian Public Service Commissioner).
The Advisory Group has released a discussion paper and is seeking submissions addressing the questions in the discussion paper or raising any additional matters they believe may be relevant to the work of the Advisory Group in the development of the blueprint. Submissions are sought by 30 November 2009.
A series of online discussion forums on topics related to reform of the Australian public service will be held during October and November 2009. Interested participants can register their interest on the PM&C Online Forums website.
Both the Prime Minister and Terry Moran clearly seek improved program delivery capability as important across all agencies. The Advisory Group will seek ways to achieve this.