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Dear public servants, do tell us about your departure lounge?

By johnboy 6 November 2013 34

With stories coming in of increasingly insistent voluntary redundancy offers, and the creation of “departure lounges” where undeployed public servants are required to sit idle all day and consider their futures we thought we’d try and bring some information transparency to the process.

So please share your experiences of the current darkness below?

What’s Your opinion?


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34 Responses to
Dear public servants, do tell us about your departure lounge?
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Ghettosmurf87 10:21 am 08 Nov 13

I’d like to know the Department you were at where you could score $200 bottles of wine as a kickback?

We can’t accept so much as a free sandwich, not that that ever gets offered anyway.

That kind of rort sounds far more like private industry where you are required to butter up clients etc. Or rorts to claim tax-back on what are essentially holidays by claiming they are business related. Though that is also a politician specialty.

Thumper 9:56 am 08 Nov 13

spinact said :

anonaps said :

I joined the APS a few years ago after 20+ years of contracting. After decades of looking in and seeing government incompetence, I had the naive idea that I could effect change from within.

I’ve never been more miserable in my life. I’d never contemplated suicide before joining the APS, but now I can see the attraction. The APS was designed to crush your spirit and destroy your soul.

Processes are byzantine, beyond repair, utterly hopeless. Simple jobs are so heavily laden with utterly worthless paperwork and procedure that, more often than not, they go months without resolution. Until somebody gets so frustrated they just ignore the “process” and do the work on the sly.

Middle-management is so bored with their lot in life that they pinch the mildly-interesting work from their staff, leaving the staff only with the drudgery. Sometimes middle-management will *delegate* down their own drudgery, so you end up with a double-shift of drudgery. Truly interesting work is deemed ‘too hard” and contractors are brought in.

Incredibly top-heavy structure. My division has more middle-management than actual workers. I’m not even including upper-management. That’s just immediate supervisors.

There is corruption everywhere. Everything from “free lunches” off vendors, to outright junkets such as around-the-world trips for “research’. Products are bought and never used. Literally shelved from day 1. They were just kickbacks to vendors in exchange for the free lunches. I’ve seen people come back from “lunch” completely sozzled, boasting of the $200+ bottles of wine they drank.

There is rampant bullying, turf wars, and political infighting. Public belittling is common; I’ve seen some shocking incidents happen to other people. Sometimes staff are ill-suited for their jobs but because the sacking process is so complex, they just get moved sideways to another ill-suited position. I have never seen *anybody* fired for poor performance…………………

Are you talking about the situation in one specific department?

I’ve worked in numerous departments and agencies, big and small, and have never come across anything even remotely close to the hellish work environment you’re describing above.

Got to admit, I’ve never seen this either.

spinact 9:38 am 08 Nov 13

anonaps said :

I joined the APS a few years ago after 20+ years of contracting. After decades of looking in and seeing government incompetence, I had the naive idea that I could effect change from within.

I’ve never been more miserable in my life. I’d never contemplated suicide before joining the APS, but now I can see the attraction. The APS was designed to crush your spirit and destroy your soul.

Processes are byzantine, beyond repair, utterly hopeless. Simple jobs are so heavily laden with utterly worthless paperwork and procedure that, more often than not, they go months without resolution. Until somebody gets so frustrated they just ignore the “process” and do the work on the sly.

Middle-management is so bored with their lot in life that they pinch the mildly-interesting work from their staff, leaving the staff only with the drudgery. Sometimes middle-management will *delegate* down their own drudgery, so you end up with a double-shift of drudgery. Truly interesting work is deemed ‘too hard” and contractors are brought in.

Incredibly top-heavy structure. My division has more middle-management than actual workers. I’m not even including upper-management. That’s just immediate supervisors.

There is corruption everywhere. Everything from “free lunches” off vendors, to outright junkets such as around-the-world trips for “research’. Products are bought and never used. Literally shelved from day 1. They were just kickbacks to vendors in exchange for the free lunches. I’ve seen people come back from “lunch” completely sozzled, boasting of the $200+ bottles of wine they drank.

There is rampant bullying, turf wars, and political infighting. Public belittling is common; I’ve seen some shocking incidents happen to other people. Sometimes staff are ill-suited for their jobs but because the sacking process is so complex, they just get moved sideways to another ill-suited position. I have never seen *anybody* fired for poor performance…………………

Are you talking about the situation in one specific department?

I’ve worked in numerous departments and agencies, big and small, and have never come across anything even remotely close to the hellish work environment you’re describing above.

LSWCHP 12:11 am 08 Nov 13

OpenYourMind said :

rosscoact said :

Lot of hate here for the raison d’être for this city.

Lot of hate and perhaps a tinge of jealousy.
Like all employment, there’s great places to work in the organisation and awful places.

With performance management, one of the reasons it rarely happens is that the process is almost as soul destroying for the person under performance management as it is for the supervisor having to document, justify and account for everything. It sounds so simple. Just get rid of underperformers, they say.

Yeah…

I’ve had to terminate 4 employees since I took on my current role, which is in the private sector.

It was a necessary thing to do in each case, but those were the worst 4 periods in a career of 30+ years, and I can well understand why people are reluctant to do it. However, if people are being paid big bucks and they only do the nice and easy things and not the difficult and unpleasant things then they’re taking money under false pretenses and they should step aside and let someone have the job who is prepared to meet the responsibilities of the role.

Letting problem employees continue without correction or termination will screw an organisation totally in the long term, and I suspect that this is the major problem with many APS workplaces.

DrKoresh 11:27 pm 07 Nov 13

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

I’m told that in some departments, every new vacancy has to go first to those staff on the R&R register. Ie those who are awaiting redeployment for a variety of reasons, but most probably poor performance, often related to health issues.
I’m all in favour of looking after people, but if numbers are going to be cut, surely a specialist on a non-ongoing contract* deserves more consideration than a permanent APS6 who has been shuffled around between departments and jobs due to their inability to work in a work environment – and total lack of experience in any work environment outside the APS?
*I may or may not be a specialist employed on a six-month non-ongoing contract.

So what you’re saying is basically “cripples are taking my job!” then?

OpenYourMind 9:08 pm 07 Nov 13

rosscoact said :

Lot of hate here for the raison d’être for this city.

Lot of hate and perhaps a tinge of jealousy.
Like all employment, there’s great places to work in the organisation and awful places.

With performance management, one of the reasons it rarely happens is that the process is almost as soul destroying for the person under performance management as it is for the supervisor having to document, justify and account for everything. It sounds so simple. Just get rid of underperformers, they say.

Queen_of_the_Bun 7:50 pm 07 Nov 13

davo101 said :

Queen_of_the_Bun said :

*I may or may not be a specialist employed on a six-month non-ongoing contract.

You may be up a certain scatological watercourse without the required propulsion apparatus.

And about to chow down on a certain scatological culinary delight without the usual outsides.

Queen_of_the_Bun 7:49 pm 07 Nov 13

watto23 said :

They really need to get rid of the idea of a redundancy payout, because as it stands, its just a way to silence someone from complaining. Outside the APS, 1 month salary is as generous as it gets and I believe is a minimum employment standard anyway.

Not true. Media organisations pay much more than that – one of my journo mates has just been made redundant and should get about nine months pay. Of course, his chances of getting another job in a rapidly shrinking industry are not good.

rosscoact 2:23 pm 07 Nov 13

Lot of hate here for the raison d’être for this city.

JessP 1:32 pm 07 Nov 13

rosscoact said :

farout said :

Sandman said :

Nice plan on the Liberals behalf. Probably cost them more to cut jobs than it would to just find something useful to do for the extra 12,000 people.

Seems like only yesterday that Andrew Leigh was foretelling how this was going to decimate the ACT economy.

they’ve only been screwing us for a few weeks and already the economy is tanking. Leave it for a few more months and see how bad it is

Err, hello things have been slowing down long before the election. The former Governments plans to ‘quietly’ get rid of bodies via effiency dividends has been going on for several years. That has had an impact, and lets face it, if they had won the election it would have got a lot worse.

watto23 said :

What gets me is Abbott is quick to say “Why should public service get lucrative maternity leave and not everyone else?”, but at the same time everyone else doesn’t get redundancy payouts like the APS either.

They really need to get rid of the idea of a redundancy payout, because as it stands, its just a way to silence someone from complaining. Outside the APS, 1 month salary is as generous as it gets and I believe is a minimum employment standard anyway.

Actually no, I have worked in private enterprise and seen better VR offers (like 4 weeks pay for every year of employment, paid out sick leave….). The APS is good but not the best.

zorro29 said :

I totally agree the APS is too big and a great deal of people are over-promoted (and over-paid for their roles/skill levels).

Absolutely. The public service is too big. There is too many people and some need to go. Pay them and get on with it.

thebrownstreak69 1:18 pm 07 Nov 13

anonaps said :

I joined the APS a few years ago after 20+ years of contracting. After decades of looking in and seeing government incompetence, I had the naive idea that I could effect change from within.

I’ve never been more miserable in my life. I’d never contemplated suicide before joining the APS, but now I can see the attraction. The APS was designed to crush your spirit and destroy your soul.

Processes are byzantine, beyond repair, utterly hopeless. Simple jobs are so heavily laden with utterly worthless paperwork and procedure that, more often than not, they go months without resolution. Until somebody gets so frustrated they just ignore the “process” and do the work on the sly.

Middle-management is so bored with their lot in life that they pinch the mildly-interesting work from their staff, leaving the staff only with the drudgery. Sometimes middle-management will *delegate* down their own drudgery, so you end up with a double-shift of drudgery. Truly interesting work is deemed ‘too hard” and contractors are brought in.

Incredibly top-heavy structure. My division has more middle-management than actual workers. I’m not even including upper-management. That’s just immediate supervisors.

There is corruption everywhere. Everything from “free lunches” off vendors, to outright junkets such as around-the-world trips for “research’. Products are bought and never used. Literally shelved from day 1. They were just kickbacks to vendors in exchange for the free lunches. I’ve seen people come back from “lunch” completely sozzled, boasting of the $200+ bottles of wine they drank.

There is rampant bullying, turf wars, and political infighting. Public belittling is common; I’ve seen some shocking incidents happen to other people. Sometimes staff are ill-suited for their jobs but because the sacking process is so complex, they just get moved sideways to another ill-suited position. I have never seen *anybody* fired for poor performance.

I get good performance reviews and I’m in a top position, but my work is so depressing and empty that I can’t stand it anymore. I’ve had enough. Glad to be going. Used to think there was value in the APS, not anymore. Hope Abbott gets the right idea and sacks 99% of the APS, leaving behind just enough people to answer the phones and tell Australians “We’ve figured out the public service was a waste of time, sorry for the inconvenience”.

What the hell possessed you to leave contracting and go permie?

farout 12:55 pm 07 Nov 13

anonaps said :

Hope Abbott gets the right idea and sacks 99% of the APS, leaving behind just enough people to answer the phones and tell Australians “We’ve figured out the public service was a waste of time, sorry for the inconvenience”.

The Government should look at the APS as one resource pool, with an alternative being contractors and private companies. If they aren’t getting sufficient value from one, they just use more of another.

anonaps 12:25 pm 07 Nov 13

I joined the APS a few years ago after 20+ years of contracting. After decades of looking in and seeing government incompetence, I had the naive idea that I could effect change from within.

I’ve never been more miserable in my life. I’d never contemplated suicide before joining the APS, but now I can see the attraction. The APS was designed to crush your spirit and destroy your soul.

Processes are byzantine, beyond repair, utterly hopeless. Simple jobs are so heavily laden with utterly worthless paperwork and procedure that, more often than not, they go months without resolution. Until somebody gets so frustrated they just ignore the “process” and do the work on the sly.

Middle-management is so bored with their lot in life that they pinch the mildly-interesting work from their staff, leaving the staff only with the drudgery. Sometimes middle-management will *delegate* down their own drudgery, so you end up with a double-shift of drudgery. Truly interesting work is deemed ‘too hard” and contractors are brought in.

Incredibly top-heavy structure. My division has more middle-management than actual workers. I’m not even including upper-management. That’s just immediate supervisors.

There is corruption everywhere. Everything from “free lunches” off vendors, to outright junkets such as around-the-world trips for “research’. Products are bought and never used. Literally shelved from day 1. They were just kickbacks to vendors in exchange for the free lunches. I’ve seen people come back from “lunch” completely sozzled, boasting of the $200+ bottles of wine they drank.

There is rampant bullying, turf wars, and political infighting. Public belittling is common; I’ve seen some shocking incidents happen to other people. Sometimes staff are ill-suited for their jobs but because the sacking process is so complex, they just get moved sideways to another ill-suited position. I have never seen *anybody* fired for poor performance.

I get good performance reviews and I’m in a top position, but my work is so depressing and empty that I can’t stand it anymore. I’ve had enough. Glad to be going. Used to think there was value in the APS, not anymore. Hope Abbott gets the right idea and sacks 99% of the APS, leaving behind just enough people to answer the phones and tell Australians “We’ve figured out the public service was a waste of time, sorry for the inconvenience”.

watto23 11:45 am 07 Nov 13

What gets me is Abbott is quick to say “Why should public service get lucrative maternity leave and not everyone else?”, but at the same time everyone else doesn’t get redundancy payouts like the APS either.

They really need to get rid of the idea of a redundancy payout, because as it stands, its just a way to silence someone from complaining. Outside the APS, 1 month salary is as generous as it gets and I believe is a minimum employment standard anyway. On top of the fact that APS having been getting well above the superannuation of private sector employees and in the last 15 years are probably earning more than many private sector people. The number of times people have called me dirty money sucking contractor (or similar, mostly in jest), when I’m a full time private employee who earns less than the EL1 or APS6 accusing me of such 🙂

Of course changing this would be incredibly difficult, but should be done. Even the recruitment process which poses as some fair and open recruitment process is far from it. They’d be better off dumping that and allowing people to be hired because that is who they want, even if its because it was someone they knew. In the end that is what happens anyway it just takes time, paperwork and wasted time on many others part.

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