Firstly I’d like to say that the review itself is a good thing and should high light a number of issues currently faced by the APS.
There have been a number of changes across the APS in recent years and not all are in the best interests of the APS being a solid foundation for contributing to the developing and implementing government policy.
The employing of casual and contract staff may look like an effective solution to a time limited problem, however it contributes to a growing lack of corporate memory and intelligence. The use of casual and contract staff can also lead to a lack of unity among staff and leave more work to be done by permanent staff to rectify after the contract and casual staff have left for their next contract elsewhere. It also leads to a distorted view of how the APS is dealing with recurring workload peaks over time. Tasks that require an in depth review or assessment are bundled together for a “quick and dirty” resolution, often leaving behind considerable mopping up by permanent staff – adding to their existing workload.
There is also the matter of zero based budgets for government agencies. This has led to unrealistic expectations from ministers as they require departmental advice from a shrinking APS base. Permanent staff leave (or retire) and are not replaced. This leads to work groups amalgamating and greater stress on section heads and branch heads, leading to a lowering of the quality of advice and/or analysis relating to government policy. This can also lead to deadlines not being met bringing about more pressure on SES staff and their reporting requirements to government.
I would like to see the review take a realistic view of the APS and arrive at reasonable recommendations to do with the operations of the APS and its responsibilities to government and the broader Australian community. This is consistent with the government of the day being charged with the responsibility of providing universal services for the Australian population.
In summary, I’d like to say that more responsibility is being taken on by more and more junior staff rendering the APS vulnerable to issues not being given appropriate assessment and oversight. This leads to the APS and government being exposed to greater scrutiny and greater risks of faulty processes and review.