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Carmel McGregor


I have retired from the APS in 2014 but remain actively engaged through IPAA, AHRI and Institute for Governance Policy Analysis (IGPA) at University of Canberra. Additionally I have undertaken a number of reviews of various functions within Departments/Agencies in APS since retirement.
I have been part of several submissions thus far - IPAA,AHRI,IGPA but wanted to make a couple of additional points which I think are of worthy consideration for this review.
I started my career in service delivery - the old Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) in Queensland. That direct connection with people who need assistance has always framed my point of reference throughout my career and I am pleased that's how it all started.
Since then I have worked in program and policy development in Employment, VET, Community Programs, Centrelink, Immigration and Citizenship,APSC, Defence. The work APS staff undertake is diverse and a privilege.
Since retirement I have continued to work with APS departments and other jurisdictions on matters of public sector development, diversity, governance.
What has struck me so poignantly in recent years has been the disconnect from the national offices of departments and agencies from their own front line. I appreciate the imploring of Secretary PM&C to connect with the citizen, but if there is such a dissonance of thinking, lack of appreciation for one anothers' perspective within their own Departments/Agencies, the lament is fraught and misunderstood. There is a view that "that's just the way it is" and "service delivery networks don't get it". Completely wrong in my view.
It won't be remedied by token "one week placements" but should be hardwired through deliberate active engagement of service delivery experts at the centre and vice versa for extended periods of time. Sue Vardon in Centrelink hardwired these arrangements through customer engagement strategies (Value Creation Workshops) and deployment of service delivery experts in Canberra and vice versa. This approach should be re invigorated .
My final point is the outsourcing impact which seems unmentioned in terms of reference. This has had a significant impact on the capability of APS. The large consulting agencies on "speed dial" seems to be the response to the big policy questions facing agencies. This is compounded by the strictures of the APS cap which forces Departments/agencies to pay more exorbitantly for a solution. I wish you well with the review. I am not entirely sure of your consultation process, but am happy to comment, engage further if that is helpful.