Please find attached a submission to the APS Review on behalf of Better Intelligence Pty Ltd.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide input.
In order to optimise the long-term efficiency and effectiveness of Australian Public
Service (APS) expenditure on supplementing its capability and capacity with
external expertise and support, we recommend that the APS Review considers:
The risks that the Commonwealth seeks to mitigate through current financial
management settings and practices
How well existing financial management settings and practices mitigate these
risks, including the nature and extent of any unintended consequences such
as market distortion through demand-side impacts
Whether alternate financial management settings and practices would
achieve better outcomes for the Commonwealth.
It is appropriate for the APS to leverage external capability and capacity
The APS has long supplemented its internal capability and capacity with external
expertise and support.
This is entirely appropriate for modern organisations, and particularly appropriate
for the APS given its operating environment continues to evolve and increase in
Australia is best served – both now and into the future – by an APS that maximises
the value achieved from sourcing this expertise and support from the marketplace.
However, current financial management settings and practices distort the demand
side of the market, therefore undermining the APS’s ability to do this.
The APS can maximise its return on investment through managing demand for
external expertise and support across annual financial cycles
Notwithstanding the influence of external macro-factors such as election cycles, the
APS’s demand for external expertise and support should be relatively consistent;
that is to say, the APS’s demand curve for external expertise and support should be
However, current financial management settings and practices mean that the APS’s
demand for external expertise and support is particularly (and artificially) high in the
lead up to – and around – the end of every financial year.
This can negatively impact the Government’s ability to maximise return on
associated expenditure for the following reasons:
Higher prices – The Government effectively pays an end of financial year
premium given increased demand, equivalent to surge pricing.
Reduced quality – Services commissioned around the end of financial year
can suffer in quality for two main reasons:
Reduced capacity of consultants given the cumulative effect of
artificially high demand across all APS departments resulting in
reduced oversight of senior consultants and/or reduced overall effort
Compressed timeframes (e.g. to ensure deliverables are substantively
completed by 30 June) can negatively impact the quality of thinking
applied to projects compared to those undertaken without this
Current settings and practices are designed to address specific risks to the
Commonwealth. While these settings and practices may have been appropriate in a
previous context, there may be an opportunity to apply more contemporary
Moreover, it may be the case that some existing practices may be deemed to be
required to meet legislative requirements when, in fact, they may not be required
(e.g. local agency lore overriding actual legislative requirements).
We are encouraged by the APS Review and look forward to its conduct and
recommendations. This presents a significant opportunity to review existing
settings and practices across a range of dimensions, and to help to deliberately
guide the APS in wise directions for the benefit of all Australians for years to come.
Chief Intelligence Officer | Better Intelligence Pty Ltd