With Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, looking to put his stamp on the public service, industry will be watching to see how potential reforms will impact their engagement with the Federal Government.
Prime Minister Morrison – who also holds the mantle of Minister for the Public Service – noted that his priorities would include ‘congestion busting on regulatory and bureaucratic roadblocks, making better use of technology and better integrating service delivery across portfolios. The goal is to make it easier to deal with and access the Government services Australians rely on.’
The focus on the integration of service delivery, for instance, has seen the Department of Human Services remodelled as Services Australia. It will still be responsible for the core government services of Medicare and Centrelink, but will also drive greater efficiencies and integration of government service delivery. The Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, has also been appointed as the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet.
This emphasis on reform comes off the back of the Thodey Review, a wide-ranging report of the effectiveness and efficiency of the Australian Public Service (APS) in its current state led by former Telstra CEO, David Thodey AO.
With consultations closing prior to the Federal Election, and the final report expected in the coming months, Nexus Public Affairs believes that the response to this review and its recommendations may present industry with an opportunity to engage with the Morrison Government and the APS.
For example, the Thodey Review recommends that the formalisation of relationships between the APS and industry will result in better outcomes and better policy.
Treating engagements as a genuine partnership, rather than a tick-the-box consultation, will open up issues to informed debate and embed industry as a critical source of knowledge in the creation of policy.
Business and industry could nurture these deeper relationships by ensuring that they are well-informed about the MP or Senator with whom they are meeting, and encouraging a more people-focused kind of engagement. Business and industry can also ensure that their engagements are planned well in advance, either in the electorate or at Parliament House.
In a time of shrinking budgets, however, it will be interesting to see how the APS will meet the Government’s reform agenda with reduced resources. The staffing cap means that agencies rely on contractors and consultants, which fosters uncertainty amongst staff.
Industry should remain cognisant of the fact that the APS will be under pressure to meet outcomes but to do so with limited capacity – the logistics of this may present a challenge to holistic engagement.