CPD takes up cudgels against the efficiency dividend

johnboy 7 December 2010 8
cpd report cover

The Centre for Policy Development has pushed out a paper on why the public service’s efficiency dividend is not such a great idea.

The key points of the paper are listed as:

    — The Efficiency Dividend is counterproductive – not only is it starting to have a harmful impact on service delivery, it actually creates incentives for long-term inefficiency in some cases.
    — International experience does not support the Efficiency Dividend as an effective mechanism to improve public sector performance.
    — Alternative approaches to promoting public sector efficiency have the potential to increase efficiency without compromising service delivery.

While it is, in my opinion, a lazy tool and almost certainly counter-productive does anyone have any alternatives for getting a leaner public service?


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8 Responses to CPD takes up cudgels against the efficiency dividend
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The Traineediplomat The Traineediplomat 7:00 pm 08 Dec 10

SpellingAndGrammar said :

Give us the tools to get rid of the mid-level oxygen thieves that exist. Current processes take too long and are resource intensive on those trying to deliver on government policy and programs within the confines of the (ever reducing) budget.

Add a mile thick overlay of reporting requirements – again, mostly in legislation, but also imposed by Ministers, and you do not end up with a rational or optimal method of allocating and using resources.

Here here. The termination process takes too long and is too hard for some managers and departments to implement due to PS rules, regulations, better practice guides etc.

breda breda 11:40 pm 07 Dec 10

“does anyone have any alternatives for getting a leaner public service?”

PS is great at adding people/functions/capability but not so good at deleting. Decide what we are not in the business of doing – even as infrequently as on an annual basis – and remove it.

peterpete – service delivery agencies just do what the legislation says they have to do, so don’t have that discretion. Policy agencies basically have do what the Minister tells them to do, so don’t have much either. Both types of agencies have had to cut their core funding every year under the ED, and then try to claw back money for all the new functions that have been foisted on them that year.

Add a mile thick overlay of reporting requirements – again, mostly in legislation, but also imposed by Ministers, and you do not end up with a rational or optimal method of allocating and using resources.

SpellingAndGrammar SpellingAndGrammar 11:33 pm 07 Dec 10

Give us the tools to get rid of the mid-level oxygen thieves that exist. Current processes take too long and are resource intensive on those trying to deliver on government policy and programs within the confines of the (ever reducing) budget.

peterepete peterepete 10:31 pm 07 Dec 10

“does anyone have any alternatives for getting a leaner public service?”

PS is great at adding people/functions/capability but not so good at deleting. Decide what we are not in the business of doing – even as infrequently as on an annual basis – and remove it.

2620watcher 2620watcher 9:34 pm 07 Dec 10

Notwithstanding the crazy ideas coming down from Parl House, efficiency increases wont happen until performance pay is properly implemented. While I can turn up and earn $100K as an EL1 without busting my backside, the PS will continue to be inefficient.

Having such a linear pay scale almost makes it a right of passage to move from band to band.

The mid levels of the APS are quite full of slow moving objects who are generally overpaid for the work they do compared to the private sector, however the higher levels are not. This causes the talent to generally jump ship to private sector at the higher levels, or even worse, get promoted to SES well before they should.

breda breda 7:43 pm 07 Dec 10

Well, you have politicians sitting up in PH passing more and more legislation which has to be implemented, while demanding cuts to the resources of those who are supposed to implement it. It is absolutely true that the mark of a good senior executive in the PS now is the ability to game the efficiency dividend, thus avoiding embarrassing the Minister when their pet initiative is unable to be delivered.

Until politicians are prepared to do the unsexy work of repealing or simplifying legislation, not just piling new stuff on all the time, it’s hard to see a way forward. Public servants can’t decide not to do things required by statute – only governments can change that.

For example, simplifying the taxation system would enable many millions in savings, right across the community as well as in the PS. Instead, the ATO keeps growing as each new tweak and anomaly is added to that ramshackle structure.

I am not holding my breath.

The Traineediplomat The Traineediplomat 7:25 pm 07 Dec 10

Cut the Department of Defence’s budget…

or here’s a fun one, each year swap Defence and AusAID’s budget back and forth…that would be interesting…

Deref Deref 12:25 pm 07 Dec 10

How about a rationale for having a leaner public service? It’s an article of faith of the Right that the PS should be leaner, but it’s ideological, not rational.

Where’s the evidence that the PS is inefficient? I deal with large corporates and they make the PS look fantastic by comparison. Basing PS service delivery on private industry standards is often bogus – the right’s cry for a business case for the NBN is a classic example. The business of government is government, not business.

What we need is a PS that delivers the broad range of public services that we deserve, and does it well. There will always be the odd example of failure – sometimes spectacular (e.g. child protection in NSW and Tasmania), but by and large I see no evidence that the PS is any worse than private industry.

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