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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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‘Stewardship’: buzzword, inkblot, or a new way to deliver human services?

The concept of ‘stewardship’ features in the Productivity Commission’s recent preliminary findings report on human services. Is stewardship just a buzzword, or is it a new way for governments to oversee client choice in the market-based delivery of human services? Or is stewardship like a Rorschach inkblot test—a poorly-defined collection of features onto which we project our own interpretations and assume that other stakeholders see what we see? This FlagPost discusses stewardship as it emerges in Australia, with reference to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and other areas of service delivery. Read more...

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A new way to set up a Commonwealth organisation

On 1 July 2016, two new corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs) will be established: the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) and Old Parliament House (OPH). While their functions will differ greatly, they will be the first CCEs established using a mechanism that became available in July 2014 under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). The new mechanism enables CCEs to be established (and abolished) by means of disallowable legislative instruments made by the Minister for Finance, rather than by Acts as has generally been the case previously.  Read more...

Reducing Red Tape in the public service 2: legislation

The recent Belcher Red Tape review made 134 recommendations. This second FlagPost on the Red Tape review provides summary information about recommendations likely to require legislative amendments. Read more...

Reducing Red Tape in the public service 1: committees and the Senate

'This needs a sledgehammer,' I declared. 'We must cut through the red tape.' ... Bernard piped up again. 'You can't cut tape with a sledgehammer, it would just...' and then he made a sort of squashing gesture. Rather than Jim Hacker’s sledgehammer in Yes, Minister,  the recommendations of a recent review of Red Tape in the Commonwealth public service evoke the accuracy and precision of a scalpel. The vast majority of the review’s 134 recommendations can be implemented administratively within the public service. However, full implementation of about 10 per cent of the recommendations will require action by the Parliament. This FlagPost provides summary information about recom... Read more...

Procurement strategy for Indigenous business: The Canadian experience, and lessons for Australia

It has been estimated that, in 2012–13, Indigenous businesses secured only 0.001% of the overall Australian Government spend (around $6.2 million of the $39 billion spent). This is despite a specific provision in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) to encourage procurement from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with at least 50 per cent Indigenous ownership. The ANAO will report on the administration of current procurement initiatives in support of Indigenous Australians in a performance audit to be tabled around June 2015. Following up on a recommendation made in Creating Parity (the Forrest Review), on 17 March the Government announced that by 2020 the Commonwealth will have... Read more...

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013—consequential amendments

On 1 July 2014, the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act) will implement a new financial management framework for the Commonwealth and Commonwealth entities. However, implementation of the PGPA framework requires the enactment of five Bills in June. The first of these was passed on 19 June 2014. The remaining four consequential and transitional Bills were introduced on 24 June and passed by the House of Representatives on 25 June. Read more...

Amendments to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013

Since the report of the National Commission of Audit and the handing down of the government’s Budget 2014‒15, media coverage has highlighted measures that will reduce the number of government bodies and the number of public servants. Less well-known is that, from 1 July 2014, the financial and reporting framework applicable to government bodies will undergo its most comprehensive overhaul since 1998. The foundation of the new framework is the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act), which must come into effect on 1 July 2014, replacing the the FMA Act and the the CAC Act. However, implementation of the PGPA framework from 1 July will require the... Read more...

Public Service Amendment (Employment for all of us) Bill 2014

On 26 February 2014, Greens member Adam Bandt introduced a private members’ bill to deal with ‘the high unemployment and underemployment rates amongst people from two very important groups in our society … people from non-English speaking backgrounds, and … Australians with a disability’. This fulfilled a 2013 election commitment by the Australian Greens that ‘workplaces should reflect the diversity of Australian society and that everyone should have equal access to meaningful paid employment’. The Public Service Amendment (Employment for all of us) Bill 2014 ‘requires the Australian Public Service (APS) to double the number of employees fr... Read more...

Public sector staffing reductions in the states and territories

Since 2011 the state and territory governments have introduced public sector staffing reductions as savings measures (some jurisdictions also had reduction programs in place prior to 2011). A summary of the reductions is provided below; ‘FTE’ is not a headcount but refers to full-time equivalent staffing levels. For the Commonwealth Government, the 2012–13 Budget estimates a staffing reduction in the Australian Public Service of 3 074 FTE for 2012–13 to be achieved in the main by a combination of natural attrition and voluntary redundancies. In November 2011 the Government also increasedits efficiency dividend rate to 4.0 per cent for 2012–13 (up from a rate of 1.5 per cent per annum). In 2... Read more...

Australian Public Service staffing

Australian Public Service (APS) staffing levels have received attention recently with the Opposition indicating the possibility of abolishing one government department if it is in government and reportedly searching for further public service expenditure reductions.The Opposition has had a policy of reducing public service staff numbers for some time as part of a broader drive to identify savings in government expenditure. In its May 2010 response to the 2010–11 Budget the Opposition stated that in government it would reduce staff numbers by 12 000 over two years through a recruitment freeze and natural attrition (i.e. without redundancies), with exemptions for front-line service and uniform... Read more...