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Colin den Ronden


In selecting people for promotion the APS has relied too much on subjective interviews rather than objective criteria. Some people are very good at interviews (often because of a dishonest self-appraisal) but are hopeless at the job. People who aren't good at interviews find it hard to think because of the stress of the situation, and after suffering from a negative outcome it becomes self-sustaining at subsequent interviews. It was often said you had to sell yourself at interviews, but to me that sounded like prostitution. I preferred to be objectively assessed by a third party and have them as my advocate as self-praise is no recommendation. With the abolition of the distinction between the Third and Fourth Divisions this did away with one of the objective criteria and allowed people who 'hadn't paid their dues' as it were to be relatively handed jobs on a silver platter. In those sectors which were highly technical it used to be that managers were selected from the 'line'. But then some years ago it was argued that managers didn't need to have technical knowledge, as long as they had management qualifications. This was also because some of those who 'hadn't paid their dues' were eyeing off the plum jobs for themselves. Thus they got rid of this other objective criteria. It has to be recognised that no selection system is perfect, and therefore a mix is required. In private industry they tend to know if a person is a good worker and don't rely so much on a panel waiting on the utterance of key words so they can tick them off their list. Possibly representatives from private industry should be encouraged to be involved in the selection processes.
Also, remuneration for senior public servants should not be determined by similar jobs in the private sector. In many cases CEOs are overpaid. It seems to be the thing nowadays that everybody wants to get paid more for doing less. By competing with them it just drives up the market price. Government could force it down by reducing what they pay to senior government personnel. There's only so many jobs out there and ultimately they have to settle for what they can get. By over paying senior public servants their Ministers then use this as an excuse to seek higher pay as they say they shouldn't get paid less than their underlings. (Never mind the fact that these underlings may be technocrats with higher qualifications than their Ministers and it is just a politician's job to give a general direction or thrust to government policy and should leave it to the technocrats to handle the finer details.)