Sunday, November 13, 2022

DPS has saved its staff from long, boring APS survey, Stefanic says


DPS has saved its staff from long, boring APS survey, Stefanic says

MOST Australians assume Canberra is filled with office worker drones in crisply-ironed shirts and government lanyards, who've never picked up a shovel in their life.

Well, they'd be wrong, if the Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Rob Stefanic has any say in it.

Up on the hill, there's a different kind of worker - one that is apparently so blue collar and mobile that sitting at a desk for two hours is simply not an option.

Mr Stefanic told estimates it's the main reason why the department dumped the APS-wide census that benchmarks workplace culture, and replaced it with a more "truncated" one.

The APS census was targeted at "white collar" public servants, while a third of the DPS workforce consisted of people in security and trades-related professions who were "mobile", he told senators. "They have brief periods of time to have breaks. So, sitting in front of a PC for two hours is not palatable," he said.

Never mind that he's previously fought hard to block the public release of earlier census results, expected to contain less-than-favourable report cards of his department.

Shergold's nat cab call-out

That wildly successful innovation to federalism, the national cabinet, has its fair share of detractors. One of their criticisms is that it is too secretive.

Former Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary, Peter Shergold, last week added his voice, saying things should be different in the next pandemic. Speaking at an Institute of Public Administration Australia event, he called for national cabinet to release modelling and data to promote trust in public health decisions in future crises. This doesn't mean public service advice should all be made public, he said. "It is entirely appropriate that public servants continue to give confidential advice to the governments they serve on the decisions that are recommended," he said.

Still, secrecy seems to be fast going out of fashion.

Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Rob Stefanic.

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The Observer view on the toxic workplace that is Westminster