How do we feel about the public service?

johnboy 19 July 2011 41

The Centre for Policy Development is touting their latest research “Attitudes towards the public service” of which an extract is available.

Here’s the skinny:

    • Most Australians support government exercising an active role in society and the economy.

    • There is strong community preference for public (rather than private) sector agencies delivering services including transport, policing, health and education.

    • Outsourcing and privatisation occur despite and contrary to these preferences.

    • Australians are generally supportive of increased public service funding, even if that means paying higher taxes.

    • A majority of citizens express reservations about the current bipartisan determination to return the Australian budget to surplus as soon as possible. Surveys indicate that this is not widely supported if it comes at the expense of adequately funded public services.

    • Surveys indicate a higher level of confidence in public service agencies than major companies.

    • Agency surveys provide an inadequate assessment of client satisfaction.

    • The mainstream media communicates primarily negative stereotypes of public servants.

    • Australian politicians reinforce these stereotypes, expressing distinctly less positive attitudes toward the public service than those of other community members: they are less likely than citizens to express satisfaction, confidence or willingness to fund and regularly invoke very negative stereotypes.

    • Studies of APS employees toward their workplaces and employers present contradictory impressions. Surveys administered by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) present a largely positive picture including high levels of employee satisfaction, motivation and sense of personal accomplishment. These surveys also indicate that many APS employees feel that their agencies discourage innovation and that their interactions with Ministers and other elected representatives are often difficult.

    • Surveys conducted by the Commonwealth Public Sector Union (CPSU) present a significantly less positive impression. For instance, a significant proportion of female public servants report their work-life balance difficulties and bullying in their workplaces


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41 Responses to How do we feel about the public service?
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shadow boxer shadow boxer 11:35 am 25 Jul 11

Thanks Classified, there are some idiots in the PS and you may have come across one of them.

Don’t totally give up on it as a career though, personally I find the pursuit of public policy and helping people far more rewarding than the endless pursuit of the $$’s.

It depends what drives you but stick at it and you will find lots of areas in the PS where people are doing meaningful, important work and striking a nice family/work balance.

CamillaG CamillaG 12:11 pm 24 Jul 11

shadow boxer said :

CamillaG said :

shadow boxer said :

So let me get this staight, you are a tall poppy management consultant who made a living off the public service by advising them on the best management structurers and policies to put in place to deal with paper pushers, beaurocrats and bullies.

However on moving to a contracted mid level management position (which being contracted would have a very clear job description) in the public sevice you find yourself totally at sea, whinging on the internet and totally unable to implement or leverage these wonderful theories to assist you to cope with a pretty routine job or difficult manager.

Those that can do, those that can only theorise consult. I suggest you roll up your sleeves and get to work producing some outcomes and you may get a more sympathetic ear.

Government wasn’t our only client but that’s besides the point.

Firstly, I do not have a job description, KPIs or anything really. Just a level that I get paid according to. This has partially to do with the fact that I interviewed for a different position but the pay for that position was too low so they created a different position for 10 months out of surplus budget for me.

Secondly, I work in a tiny agency and since team member 3 went off on extended leave due to PTSD, it’s just my boss and I left.

Thirdly, I cannot work in another area until my security clearance comes through.

Fourthly, I actually do a lot of work on the side in my own time and deliver it straight to the ED of the agency. He cannot have me reporting directly to him for because of some ‘internal politics’ (his words, not mine). My work does get implemented through him. My manager is unaware of this work that I do. He just works me as admin pretty much.

And finally, I am 24, not Australian and have barely mingled with public servants before, apart from occasionally through work. I’ll be the first to admit I have to learn to navigate these foreign waters.

haha, sorry didn’t realise you are only 24, when you said tall poppy I imaguned someone a bit more experienced than a couple of years out of Uni.

I am not sure where in your management degree they said doing work on the side and taking it to your bosses boss was a good idea but here’s a tip from someone who’s been around a while. It is only going to piss your boss off to have someone undermining his plans and relationship with his boss, no matter how well intentioned. While you imagine he doesn’t know he probably does and this may be why you are being sidelined.

Fair call. Doesn’t work like that in private though. He would have been fired a long time ago.

I finished undergrad when I was 18. Finished my masters at 20 and have been working since I was 18. So 6 years work experience for me. Not a lot but more than one would think.

BimboGeek BimboGeek 4:19 pm 23 Jul 11

Public servants are fine.

Bureaucrats in any sector are self-important slime who come into my restaurant and treat me like a sack of vomit then try to intimidate me into giving them everything for free by dropping my own partner’s name to me as if they’re his best friend or suck up to him if he comes in. We’re also intermittently plagued by idiot drugged up women who think humping my partner’s leg is a good way to sell me something.

And while I’m feeling cranky, CamillaG is failing at work because she has all the social skills of a gnat. But she’s only 24 so who can blame her? When I see people trying to do more “senior” chores, it throws up alarm bells because even though they may be capable of that particular duty, they actually need to be trained in the responsibilities of a more senior role before being thrown in. You said yourself that you haven’t mixed with public servants much, you should be glad to have an opportunity to learn the ropes and make friends before being given big responsibilities! Settle down and ask for less while making it clear you intend a productive career and relish the opportunity for challenge and big things will come to you. Tell everyone you’re there to save them from their own stupidity and watch them give you jobs appropriate to your people skills, like filing, data entry and cleaning!

shadow boxer shadow boxer 2:06 pm 23 Jul 11

CamillaG said :

shadow boxer said :

So let me get this staight, you are a tall poppy management consultant who made a living off the public service by advising them on the best management structurers and policies to put in place to deal with paper pushers, beaurocrats and bullies.

However on moving to a contracted mid level management position (which being contracted would have a very clear job description) in the public sevice you find yourself totally at sea, whinging on the internet and totally unable to implement or leverage these wonderful theories to assist you to cope with a pretty routine job or difficult manager.

Those that can do, those that can only theorise consult. I suggest you roll up your sleeves and get to work producing some outcomes and you may get a more sympathetic ear.

Government wasn’t our only client but that’s besides the point.

Firstly, I do not have a job description, KPIs or anything really. Just a level that I get paid according to. This has partially to do with the fact that I interviewed for a different position but the pay for that position was too low so they created a different position for 10 months out of surplus budget for me.

Secondly, I work in a tiny agency and since team member 3 went off on extended leave due to PTSD, it’s just my boss and I left.

Thirdly, I cannot work in another area until my security clearance comes through.

Fourthly, I actually do a lot of work on the side in my own time and deliver it straight to the ED of the agency. He cannot have me reporting directly to him for because of some ‘internal politics’ (his words, not mine). My work does get implemented through him. My manager is unaware of this work that I do. He just works me as admin pretty much.

And finally, I am 24, not Australian and have barely mingled with public servants before, apart from occasionally through work. I’ll be the first to admit I have to learn to navigate these foreign waters.

haha, sorry didn’t realise you are only 24, when you said tall poppy I imaguned someone a bit more experienced than a couple of years out of Uni.

I am not sure where in your management degree they said doing work on the side and taking it to your bosses boss was a good idea but here’s a tip from someone who’s been around a while. It is only going to piss your boss off to have someone undermining his plans and relationship with his boss, no matter how well intentioned. While you imagine he doesn’t know he probably does and this may be why you are being sidelined.

Henry82 Henry82 12:13 pm 21 Jul 11

Kiron2222 said :

>Every public servant looks down on you and workmates as a bogan. (despite most tradesmen have more qualifications and skills than any office worker)

Define qualifications and skills? I would have assumed most public servants would have a BA at the very least.

>Work 10-12 hour days 6 days a week with 30 min lunch break.

Well, this site near my house doesnt do 10 hour work days, from what ive seen they’re off by 3 pm.

>Most go through 5 years of apprenticeship (read slave labour) where they get paid at minimum wage.

You do realise that even white collar workers get graduate/junior positions that attract a lower rate

>Get little too no benefits.

Alot of expenses are tax deductible

>No air conditioning/heating

Neither does mining

>Construction is most dangerous job in country.

fire, police, mining, bouncers

>Most will have severe back, joint, muscle problems only after a few years

It is a physically demanding job

>Breathing in highly toxic/dangerous fumes every day

If this is the case, you need to bring it up with your employeer, or get health and safety involved

>Get paid around the same, if not less than a average public servant, friends little sister who just joined gets paid more than me.

So you’re comparing unskilled labour with someone who has spent 3 years at university?

p1 said :

You might be forgetting that the people listed above are exposed to random drug testing, and are provided training and oversight in performing their dangerous jobs. Construction is dangerous because the other idiots on the site are drunk and run you over….

Completly agree P1, drug and alcohol testing reduces the number of misfits working. however its not 100% fullproof, people can still take shortcuts that risk other peoples lives.

Monomyth Monomyth 11:01 am 21 Jul 11

I am in the middle of leaving the public service for a job in the private sector. Very much looking forward to being judged on how well I do my job for a change!

The_Bulldog The_Bulldog 10:48 am 21 Jul 11

When some poeple hear “private sctor” they think only of trades. This isn’t the case, although I agree that trades and labouring is hard work. I’ve done it – to pay bills as a young bloke while I worked out what I wanted to do when I grew up. Needless to say that after labouring and TA work, as well as stints in retail and security over a few years, I decided that I was bored and generally disastisfied with the work. So instead of moaning about how good some other people have it, I voted with my feet.

I joined the circus about seven years ago – and on the whole have been quitely impressed with the skills, development and professionalism of the majority of my new peers. That being said, there are still too many folks around the traps that couldn’t work in an iron lung.

On a side note, I have in my various roles within the APS had contact with civil servants from a raft of other nations. I would also suggest we, as tax-payers, have it better that the vast majority – which could be observed by simply checking out what goes on around the world. But don’t let that stop the Canberra/APS bashing that goes on!

amarooresident3 amarooresident3 10:35 am 21 Jul 11

Thumper said :

Construction is most dangerous job in country

Yeah, I always thought the dangers to police, soldiers, sailors, airmen, firefighters, etc, was over rated.

Construction is in the top three in terms of most dangerous occupations, along with agriculture, forestry and fishing and mining. In terms of fatalities, construction wins hands down unfortunately.

While police and firefighters and the defence forces often get a lot of publicity (rightly) when something goes wrong, statistically it is a they are much safer occupations.

p1 p1 10:15 am 21 Jul 11

Classified said :

Thumper said :

Construction is most dangerous job in country

Yeah, I always thought the dangers to police, soldiers, sailors, airmen, firefighters, etc, was over rated.

Or miners, boilermakers, etc

You might be forgetting that the people listed above are exposed to random drug testing, and are provided training and oversight in performing their dangerous jobs. Construction is dangerous because the other idiots on the site are drunk and run you over….

Classified Classified 9:24 am 21 Jul 11

Thumper said :

Construction is most dangerous job in country

Yeah, I always thought the dangers to police, soldiers, sailors, airmen, firefighters, etc, was over rated.

Or miners, boilermakers, etc

Thumper Thumper 8:45 am 21 Jul 11

Construction is most dangerous job in country

Yeah, I always thought the dangers to police, soldiers, sailors, airmen, firefighters, etc, was over rated.

Classified Classified 8:11 am 21 Jul 11

Kiron2222 said :

>Work in trades.
>Every public servant looks down on you and workmates as a bogan. (despite most tradesmen have more qualifications and skills than any office worker)
>Work 10-12 hour days 6 days a week with 30 min lunch break.
>Most go through 5 years of apprenticeship (read slave labour) where they get paid at minimum wage.
>Get little too no benefits.
>No air conditioning/heating
>Construction is most dangerous job in country.
>Most will have severe back, joint, muscle problems only after a few years
>Breathing in highly toxic/dangerous fumes every day
>Get paid around the same, if not less than a average public servant, friends little sister who just joined gets paid more than me.

Before you all have your “Private vs Public” office war, remember that not everybody has the luxury of working in an air conditioned office or getting anything resembling “benefits” or a 40 hour week.

Sounds like you need a new job if being a tradie is so terrible and underpaid.

Kiron2222 Kiron2222 11:56 pm 20 Jul 11

>Work in trades.
>Every public servant looks down on you and workmates as a bogan. (despite most tradesmen have more qualifications and skills than any office worker)
>Work 10-12 hour days 6 days a week with 30 min lunch break.
>Most go through 5 years of apprenticeship (read slave labour) where they get paid at minimum wage.
>Get little too no benefits.
>No air conditioning/heating
>Construction is most dangerous job in country.
>Most will have severe back, joint, muscle problems only after a few years
>Breathing in highly toxic/dangerous fumes every day
>Get paid around the same, if not less than a average public servant, friends little sister who just joined gets paid more than me.

Before you all have your “Private vs Public” office war, remember that not everybody has the luxury of working in an air conditioned office or getting anything resembling “benefits” or a 40 hour week.

CamillaG CamillaG 11:48 pm 20 Jul 11

shadow boxer said :

So let me get this staight, you are a tall poppy management consultant who made a living off the public service by advising them on the best management structurers and policies to put in place to deal with paper pushers, beaurocrats and bullies.

However on moving to a contracted mid level management position (which being contracted would have a very clear job description) in the public sevice you find yourself totally at sea, whinging on the internet and totally unable to implement or leverage these wonderful theories to assist you to cope with a pretty routine job or difficult manager.

Those that can do, those that can only theorise consult. I suggest you roll up your sleeves and get to work producing some outcomes and you may get a more sympathetic ear.

Government wasn’t our only client but that’s besides the point.

Firstly, I do not have a job description, KPIs or anything really. Just a level that I get paid according to. This has partially to do with the fact that I interviewed for a different position but the pay for that position was too low so they created a different position for 10 months out of surplus budget for me.

Secondly, I work in a tiny agency and since team member 3 went off on extended leave due to PTSD, it’s just my boss and I left.

Thirdly, I cannot work in another area until my security clearance comes through.

Fourthly, I actually do a lot of work on the side in my own time and deliver it straight to the ED of the agency. He cannot have me reporting directly to him for because of some ‘internal politics’ (his words, not mine). My work does get implemented through him. My manager is unaware of this work that I do. He just works me as admin pretty much.

And finally, I am 24, not Australian and have barely mingled with public servants before, apart from occasionally through work. I’ll be the first to admit I have to learn to navigate these foreign waters.

CamillaG CamillaG 11:32 pm 20 Jul 11

Classified said :

CamillaG said :

I often presented to Assistant Secretaries and business leaders. The value I added to the public service was far greater when I lived outside it!

I did my undergrad in Math and Economic Policy. I have always been fascinated by public policy. I felt rather uneasy knowing that something that took my team of first year consultants an hour to put together cost departments into the thousands of dollars. I thought it weigh less on my conscience if I joined the APS and got paid a salary.

I’m only 24 though and wasn’t a very well thought out career move. It was on a bit of a whim. I knew someone who worked in the small agency and she said that they were looking for someone to work in policy so I applied. I got the job on the spot. I am yet to get a job description or anything similar. I was just hired. Rather odd. I just went with it at the time.
What was the rationale behind leaving a management consultancy for a public servant contract? Especially at your age? Just curious…

p1 p1 9:53 am 20 Jul 11

Jethro said :

You probably get paid 25-50% more for starters. You would work in better conditions (air conditioning, more flexible hours, not getting physically or verbally abused) and if you work in policy, then, yes, you do tell them what to do.

The better pay rate is certainly the single biggest reason I work for the Commonwealth public service right now. The other bits, generally true, I am in a new building, although not that long ago was subjected to the classic “person who manages to infuriate many people without doing a single sack-able thing that can be documented” situation. There were then transferred to the ministers office…..?

Largely the policy in this area is negotiated in cabinet and handed down in media releases….

shadow boxer shadow boxer 8:19 am 20 Jul 11

So let me get this staight, you are a tall poppy management consultant who made a living off the public service by advising them on the best management structurers and policies to put in place to deal with paper pushers, beaurocrats and bullies.

However on moving to a contracted mid level management position (which being contracted would have a very clear job description) in the public sevice you find yourself totally at sea, whinging on the internet and totally unable to implement or leverage these wonderful theories to assist you to cope with a pretty routine job or difficult manager.

Those that can do, those that can only theorise consult. I suggest you roll up your sleeves and get to work producing some outcomes and you may get a more sympathetic ear.

Classified Classified 8:16 am 20 Jul 11

CamillaG said :

I often presented to Assistant Secretaries and business leaders. The value I added to the public service was far greater when I lived outside it!

What was the rationale behind leaving a management consultancy for a public servant contract? Especially at your age? Just curious…

CamillaG CamillaG 10:44 pm 19 Jul 11

shadow boxer said :

“Management Consulting firm where I earned and contributed multiple fold”

Plenty of oxymorons in there, maybe the PS is the real world and your getting a dose of it ?

Perhaps you felt my post was paradoxical. I cannot find an oxymoron there.

I often presented to Assistant Secretaries and business leaders. The value I added to the public service was far greater when I lived outside it!

And what is this ‘real world’ you speak of? The world of underachieving paper pushers who are corseted by the bureaucracy in their minds? Gosh – I was warned of this hatred of the tall poppy.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of great minds flowering in the public service. It’s just that they often get missed in the weeds.

Henry82 Henry82 10:38 pm 19 Jul 11

2604 said :

From eTax which is remarkably painless

Windows only (apparently they’ve been “considering” other operating systems for over 5 years)

2604 said :

, to the HECS/HELP system

HECS has been around for 20 years, “reformed” 5 years ago.

Passports, yeah thats a reasonable service, although it drives me crazy going to Australia Post where some franchises won’t accept your photo unless you have it taken with them. Then you take it to other outlets who describe it as “perfect”

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