australia; public service; public management; Civil service; Decision-making; Industrial relations; Performance management; Senior management
In this evidence-based and closely argued work, Kathy MacDermott plots the changes in the culture of the Australian Public Service that have led many contemporary commentators to lament the purported loss of traditional public service values of impartiality, intellectual rigour and — most importantly — the willingness of public servants at all levels to offer frank and fearless advice to their superiors and their ministers. MacDermott brings to her analysis an insider’s sensibility and a thorough forensic analysis of the impact of some 20 years of relentless administrative ‘reform’ on the values and behaviour of the APS. Although this story has its beginnings in the Hawke-Keating eras, MacDermott convincingly argues that structural and cultural change compromising the integrity of the public service reached its apogee towards the end of the eleven years of the Howard government. This is a ‘must read’ for students of Australian political and administrative history. MacDermott offers cautionary observations that the new national government might do well to heed.
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