Our taxes at work: read it and weep

imagesDoesn’t this remind you of that episode from the original The Office in which the outside trainer/facilitator, overhead projector and all, is derailed by prat manager, David Brent, and everyone else sits slumped in their uncomfortable chairs?

Here’s a free hint to Treasury: forget about the training in gender equality and concentrate on the quality of the output.

And, finally, what a great money spinner for all this guff handed out by wannabes who wouldn’t have a clue but no doubt put on quite a performance.

A top Treasury official received nearly $2000 in coaching from gender equity specialist Deborah May as part of an executive education spend of more than $1 million across key federal economics agencies.

Details of the training provided to hundreds of public service executives over the past 12 months been provided to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee following a question on notice from Labor.

Treasury’s bill for the year was $255,000. The top individual spend was on a five-day residential course called Leading for Organisational Impact at the University of Melbourne, worth $9882.

The recipient is employed at SES Band 2, which is the level of first assistant secretary or division head. The salary at this level is around $275,656 a year.

Another Treasury official received $1950 in executive coaching from Canberra-based Deborah May, who specialises in unconscious bias in the workplace.

Ms May would not speak about her clients in specific terms but said: “The public service, and particularly Treasury, have had a focus on increasing the numbers of women at senior levels and the work I’ve done is to identify the barriers to equal opportunity for men and women.

“We’ve identified unconscious bias as the most significant barrier to their progression.”

The recipient of Ms May’s services is employed at the deputy secretary level.

There are currently six men and three women at this level, each of whom earns $300,000 plus.

Treasury also put five employees through training with the Sydney-based Cranlana Foundation, at a cost of $22,500.

Established in 1993 as an initiative of the Myer Foundation, the Cranlana Program helps leaders “reflect upon key philosophical, ethical and social issues central to creating a just, prosperous and sustainable society in Australia”.

In another big spend, Treasury paid $113,650 to Australian Public Service Commission for 11 participants in leadership training. That’s about $10,000 per person.

Treasury’s bill for executive education and coaching was only outdone by the Australian Prudential and Regulatory Authority, which spent $398,798.

APRA did not provide a breakdown of what it spent but listed The Donington Group, Sympatico Coaching Practice and UGM Consulting among its providers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission spent $199,803 and the Australian Bureau of Statistics $110,599.

Just over 100 ACCC managers received training, including four who spent about a day each with Stella Humphries, who calls herself a “learning steward” and specialises in large-scale change programs.

Organisational coach Amanda Horne spent six hours with one ACCC departmental officer at a cost of $2250, while another more senior executive received three hours of coaching from Allegany Consulting at a cost of $1636.35. The ACCC’s biggest spend was $116,304 with Nous Group for leadership training for 191 employees.

The ABS used a series of private consultancy firms including Flanagan Brown-Greaves, Bull & Bear Consulting and Yellow Edge Consulting.

Several agencies, including the Productivity Commission and Inspector General of Taxation, did not have any spending on coaching.

Information about two large agencies, the Australian Tax Office and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, had not been posted on the website of federal Parliament by late on Monday.

 

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62 Responses to Our taxes at work: read it and weep

  1. calli

    I sense a microagression on my wallet.

  2. Taking cultural marxism to the front lines

  3. Crossie

    Did the writer use “spend” a couple of times as a noun or were they just grammatical errors?

    Other than that, if you want to promote women just do it and cut out the parasite consciousness raising industry.

  4. Fred

    ……..and the Liberals want to put up the GST!

    I look forward to the day Australia goes bankrupt.

  5. Fiction writers must love the PC bullshit as a source of ideas ,I mean the best of them could not think these true ridiculous things . The idiots who think these money gobbling brain farts up are really creative ,without knowing it . Of course the blame rests with. The elected Polliemuppets ,still I suppose they are busy furthering heir careers and putting a lot of our money away for their retirements . Ya gotta get yer priorities right Mate .never mind the money what about ME !

  6. Econocrat

    I really think the biggest bias to be addressed at the Langton Crescent Soviet is the bias against post-1960s non-Keynesian economics.

    P.S. I went to some Melbourne Uni do in Canberra this year about the structural deficit. Some total muppet (but a woman,) from Treasury got up and said that when Treasury thought about spending, it always looked at the multipliers of certain types of spending, and that Treasury thought that spending more would would reduce the structural deficit. That person needs a lobotomy, irrespective of their gender.

  7. wazsah

    Talking about time & money wasting in the PS – has anybody noticed this reported by the ABC from the State Libray of Queensland –
    Recommendations from report into SLQ breast photos scandal to be implemented
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-21/report-into-slq-breast-photos-to-be-implemented/7046262?WT.ac=statenews_qld
    a quick skim seems to show that a male SLQ staffer took photos during work of clothed ladies – or have I got that wrong ? It is not stated how many photos – just that photos were taken on a phone.
    I wonder what this frenzy of Unions – Workers Comp – Industrial Court – Lawyers – newly created Integrity Officer – Crime & Misconduct Commission – buck passing and ongoing reporting; what could this be costing the dear old taxpayer?

  8. Myrddin Seren

    …when Treasury thought about spending, it always looked at the multipliers of certain types of spending, and that Treasury thought that spending more would would reduce the structural deficit.

    Errrmmm.

    As our own Memoryvault says, based on his experience with the Canberra Soviet, bankrupting Australia is not a bug, it’s a feature. I am really starting to get his point.

  9. Beertruk

    “We’ve identified unconscious bias…

    If the ‘bias’ is ‘unconscious’, how can it be identified?

  10. Entropy

    The recipient is employed at SES Band 2, which is the level of first assistant secretary or division head. The salary at this level is around $275,656 a year.

    Out of interest, the equivalent in the QPS is about $185,000 including a $25k car allowance. Could have 500 staff or so.

  11. Cannibal

    That’s nothing. A mere trickle of funds compared to the widespread, on-going employment of private sector “consultants” performing what were essentially public service administrative jobs – at 2x, 3x the cost.

  12. Des Deskperson

    ‘In another big spend, Treasury paid $113,650 to Australian Public Service Commission for 11 participants in leadership training. That’s about $10,000 per person.’

    Here’s an example of the sort of trading the APSC provides for SES band 1 staff at $10,000 a pop:

    http://www.apsc.gov.au/learn-and-develop/learning-and-development-calendar/senior-executive-service-development/ses-band-1-leadership-program

    What is important here is that, apart from a bit of L&D babble – “opportunities for feedback and discussion with their managers and peers, and leadership network groups’, there is no evidence of any obligation by either the trainer or the employer, let alone any structure or process, to evaluate the effectiveness of the training on the individual, err, learnee’s subsequent performance over any period of time.

    This, in my experience, is typical of all executive ‘learning and development’ in the APS. Sure, the ‘facilitator’ in a executive coaching session may give the client a follow-up telephone call from time to time, but generally speaking, no-one has any idea whether these courses are actually effective and, seemingly, no interest in finding out.

  13. Entropy

    Luk performance agreements.

  14. calli

    Beertruk
    #1894557, posted on December 22, 2015 at 9:23 am
    “We’ve identified unconscious bias…

    If the ‘bias’ is ‘unconscious’, how can it be identified?

    I sense a Bias Incident in that statement, Beertruk. Check your privilege.

  15. Tel

    If the ‘bias’ is ‘unconscious’, how can it be identified?

    Only a biased person would ask that.

  16. Econocrat

    …but generally speaking, no-one has any idea whether these courses are actually effective and, seemingly, no interest in finding out.

    Wrong Des. There is something to put in a table in an annual report and the training budget gets burnt so that it looks like these munters are part of a progressive, “innovative” even, public service organisation.

    A complete circle-jerk.

  17. Cannibal

    Did the writer use “spend” a couple of times as a noun or were they just grammatical errors?

    In Canberra this is considered cool and edgy management talk.

  18. DB

    This rubbish pervades the private sector too.
    I work at an ASX 50 global company and we had to endure ‘unconscious bias awareness’ training in order to learn that we are all sexist, racist, ageist homophobes.

  19. Pyrmonter

    Christmas season grumbles: can someone please issue a fatwas on the middish “spend” meaning outlay or expenditure – it seems to have crept into every government press release.

  20. Des Deskperson

    ‘Wrong Des.’

    Sorry, Econocrat, I’ll re-phrase it:

    ‘but generally speaking, no-one has any idea whether these courses are actually effective and, seemingly, no SERIOUS interest in finding out.’

  21. Boambee John

    The course at the University of Melbourne was said to be “worth $6882”.

    I think that should be “cost”, the actual value was probably far less.

  22. Entropy

    I will fix that now I am no longer in a moving vehicle. Not only is a lot of training done with no measurable outcome, a lot of it is done to help some SES achieve an undertaking in their performance agreement.

    All these APS people no doubt have to do performance agreements. This requirement not only takes up the time of the staff member and their boss, but also gainfully employs a small army of corporate types across the APS to bureaucratise the whole process. Templates, reporting, presentations, briefings, more reporting, etc etc.

    All very wonderful of course, but I wonder how many people, apart from the said army of corporate types that are apparently needed to properly organise and destroy any initiative in the process, got a job or a promotion on the basis of their performance agreement? I am sure if one were to dig hard enough the odd exception to the rule might be found, but generally, SFA.

    And don’t get me started on team building shit. I once had to put up with a session of laughter medicine. I walked out after two minutes of that shit, and told my SES what a ducking waste of taxpayer dollars and she better not pull that shit again. Somehow I avoided the HR police that time. They come up with such shit as it is frowned upon to haul everyone off to the pub for real team building, or worse, have the temerity to bring in some drinks for after work on a Friday night. That would almost be a sackable offence.

  23. Brian

    Its curious that they wedged “prosperous” between “just” and “sustainable”.
    Just how does the Public Service intend to be “prosperous”?
    Forget that – how is the PC correct version of “just” and the ignorant version of “sustainable” have any ability to work in with “prosperous”. It must mean something else now..

  24. Old School Conservative

    Beertruk
    #1894557, posted on December 22, 2015 at 9:23 am
    “We’ve identified unconscious bias…

    If the ‘bias’ is ‘unconscious’, how can it be identified?

    Lets look at it this way: a senior public servant with a university education and probably a second degree, many years of experience in an affirmative action environment, plus many previous internal training opportunities is obviously not in a position to recognise bias against minority groups. That recognition can only come from an external, highly paid, consultant.
    You know it makes sense. Especially when the word “budget” in the public service is defined as “spend all you were allocated”.

  25. As our own Memoryvault says, based on his experience with the Canberra Soviet, bankrupting Australia is not a bug, it’s a feature. I am really starting to get his point.

    Whilst I agree with most of MVs posts, Myrddin, this concept has been mislabeled. No parasite wants to kill its host, but when the feeding frenzy is on, those with most to gain manage to convince themselves that the host is unharmed by their actions.

  26. lotocoti

    It’s amazing how much the long con has evolved to suit the times.

  27. Crossie

    That recognition can only come from an external, highly paid, consultant.
    You know it makes sense. Especially when the word “budget” in the public service is defined as “spend all you were allocated”.

    If anything is left over then obviously you don’t need that much for next year.

  28. egg_

    Doesn’t this remind you of that episode from the original The Office in which the outside trainer/facilitator, overhead projector and all, is derailed by prat manager, David Brent, and everyone else sits slumped in their uncomfortable chairs?

    I’ve personally witnessed such ruin a complete business line and cost hundreds of Aussie jobs that went offshore to China.
    There’s at least one website dedicated to using The Office (UK and US versions) as instruction against dysfunctional workplaces, comparing it to Harvard papers dating back to the 1950s but even more relevant now, basically about not allowing sociopathic losers (‘trolls’) to take over the joint.

  29. Bruce of Newcastle

    Treasury’s data analysis and modelling has been abysmal ever since Parko got the job. Its fascinating that Turnbull wants to bring him back.

    Abolish the whole thing, put the statutory stuff into the RB and give the modelling to the private sector on tender. You could probably save a good chunk of a billion a year.

  30. Struth

    Corruption.
    While laughing at us.

  31. egg_

    They come up with such shit as it is frowned upon to haul everyone off to the pub for real team building, or worse, have the temerity to bring in some drinks for after work on a Friday night. That would almost be a sackable offence.

    Yet, when Frank Blount became CEO of Telstra in the 1990s, reportedly the first thing he did was order a $30,000 drinks cabinet, as you do in Texas, I guess?

  32. How to get rich in Scamberra,resugn from PS job ,after long negotiations with bosses of department ,set up $2 company,Wankers consultantcy,Trevor Wanker CEO, get contract at government as consultant ,overcharge ,but keep tge sweeteners coming to department heads . success! The fact that Mrs Wanker is MP not mentioned . When you get $70,000,000 move overseas and sell company for millions then spend time helping Mrs Wanker get top job at untidy nayshuns ,it Has been done before! Not long ago !

  33. Bruce J

    If the people at these levels really need this type of “training”, they are not suited to the job! Get rid of the dross and employ people who have actually worked successfully .

  34. egg_

    If the ‘bias’ is ‘unconscious’, how can it be identified?

    Sounds like a modification of the workplace training term ‘unconscious incompetence’* where of course others can only point out ones unknown incompetence – for $.

    From the table:
    Known knowns
    Unknown knowns
    Known unknowns
    and lastly:
    *Unknown unknowns… famously omitted by Donny Rumsfeld.

  35. Monkey's Uncle

    If the ‘bias’ is ‘unconscious’, how can it be identified?

    I presume the claim is that the bias is unconscious in the individual exhibiting it, and it takes a third party expert to identify it.

    Of course, it goes without saying that the people responsible for identifying this bias have no unconscious biases or prejudices themselves which may inform what they are doing. No, they are completely objective and impartial to a fault. A bit like all those warmist climate scientists that are just dispassionately looking at the data, without any ideological bias, sympathies or vested interests that may cloud their judgement.

    We must be the luckiest people in history, to be ruled over by such a bunch of enlightened, impartial experts completely free of any corrupting influence.

  36. egg_

    No, they are completely objective and impartial to a fault. A bit like all those warmist climate scientists that are just dispassionately looking at the data, without any ideological bias, sympathies or vested interests that may cloud their judgement.

    KRuddy’s famous guys in white coats:
    “The first thing I’d say is the IPCC – International Panel on Climate Change – scientists has 4000 essentially humourless scientists in white coats who go around and measure things and have been doing so for about 20 years. They reached a conclusion about, first of all, climate change happening and, second, the high likelihood, defined as 90 per cent plus, of it being caused by human activity sometime ago.”

  37. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    “In another big spend, Treasury paid …”

    “… part of an executive education spend of more than …”

    “The top individual spend was …”

    “… the ACCC’s biggest spend was …”

    Written by an uneducated moron fluent in illiterate.

    Crossie at 8:54 am:

    “Did the writer use “spend” a couple of times as a noun or were they just grammatical errors?”

    Cannibal at 9:37 am:

    “Did the writer use “spend” a couple of times as a noun or were they just grammatical errors?

    In Canberra this is considered cool and edgy management talk.”

    Pyrmonter at 9:44 am:

    Christmas season grumbles: can someone please issue a fatwas on the middish “spend” meaning outlay or expenditure ….

    DB at 9:44 am:

    This rubbish pervades the private sector too.
    I work at an ASX 50 global company and we had to endure ‘unconscious bias awareness’ training in order to learn that we are all sexist, racist, ageist homophobes.

    When they are not in five star resort classrooms being directed, by purse lipped mincing bundles of sticks, how to ostentatiously show respect for pig ugly dykes wearing sensible haircuts and sporting short shoes, it is comforting to know these are the experts crafting international trade agreements for profitable industry, writing rules of engagement for soldiers under fire and deciding which medications I may and may not access when I get crook.

  38. Habib

    I reckon there’s more product differentiation between Coca Cola and Pepsi than Lab-Lib now. Is there any point whatsoever in voting? I’d sooner spend the day at the pub, but I can barely afford to get on the gas or light a bunger now due to exponential excise.

  39. Tel

    Habib, brew your own beer. It’s cheap and entertaining… even if you screw up a batch here or there (which will certainly happen) it’s still cheap and entertaining. After all, you can’t learn without drinking the consequences of your actions.

    As a bonus, for the next 15 minutes, it’s still legal!!! And almost tax free!!!!

  40. Art Vandelay

    When I worked in the bureaucracy, I was sent on a compulsory one week training course on conflict resolution. It largely involved sitting around in a function room at an expensive hotel with butcher’s paper and markers. That wasn’t all, as we spent an afternoon learning to meditate (complete with whale-song music).

    On the final afternoon, we were supposed to put all the knowledge and skills in conflict resolution we had learnt over the week to good use as we role-played a negotiating scenario. However, instead of reaching a negotiated settlement in a calm, supportive environment (as the consultant intended), everyone ended up screaming at one another and storming out. Angry emails were sent and feuds even persisted over the following weeks and months.

    Money well spent.

  41. Pickles

    “We’ve identified unconscious bias as the most significant barrier to their progression.”

    The dreaded unconscious bias constrictor. Once one is entangled in those coils there is no escape.

  42. Habib ,re Hone Brew ,when I lived in a country town I used to offer would be Home Brewersv a tour of the Cemetary ,where a lot of Home Brewers rested ,dying of Alcoho related diseases ,most ended up Diabetics with all the traumas that can cause ,stick to buying it ,you cant afford to drink as much as home Brewers.

  43. Simon/other

    If this stuff is so important you would have thought that it would be part of every university coarse and a minimum entry requirement for the Public Service. Surely there’s some delusional “pink safety card” for office workers that guarantees that even the sociopaths recognize and can deal with these obvious “dangers” of the indoor government environment.

  44. Des Deskperson

    Out of interest, the equivalent in the QPS is about $185,000 including a $25k car allowance. Could have 500 staff or so.’

    Entropy, I think the figure referred to is the ‘total remuneration package’ for an SES Band 2, which includes employer super contribution, car or payment in lieu, free parking and various other perks – I-pad and/or laptop – as well as a base salary of around $230,000 pa,

    Still better than Queensland, it seems, although the $185,000 figure doesn’t include the employer super contribution of around $20,000 pa. I’m surprised how low the QLD salaries are, an SES 1 in Queensland, even with a car payment, only gets as much as the base salary of an EL2 in the APS.

  45. Ant

    “…$2000 in coaching from gender equity specialist…”

    2 grand is so nothing in the grand budgetry scheme of things.

    Yet how that 2 grand was spent tells all we need to know about big government.

    In all instances it is immoral and corrupting and a ‘necessary evil’. And the bigger it is the moreso these characteristics flourish.

  46. Robbo

    So while those public service numbskulls throw the taxpayers money around like confetti on these “courses” the poor bloody private sector just gets on with trying to make decent profits from which those muppets in Canberra will take a good percentage so that they will have more money to throw around like confetti and so on and so on. Very very few in the private sector have any spare cash to spend on these stupidities. They are the people that actually boost the economy but those in Canberra couldn’t give a rats arse about improving things for them.

  47. johanna

    We’ve identified unconscious bias as the most significant barrier

    Talk about heads I win, tails you lose.

    The “biggest problem” is invisible and unmeasurable.

    Ghostbusters!

  48. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Art Vandelay at 1:00 pm:

    “… training course on conflict resolution. …

    On the final afternoon, we were supposed to put all the knowledge and skills … to good use as we role-played a negotiating scenario. However, instead of reaching a negotiated settlement in a calm, supportive environment (as the consultant intended), everyone ended up … .”

    … shafting each other royally through lies and deception. Our few days spent on that one was “negotiating” I think. What the useless personnel chief clerk* thought we’d get out of it Lord knows – we were the company’s best, successful profit making divisional managers, leaders in our respective professions and such.

    We all got on well together – evil oil / baby munching coal was like that – and treated these occasional holidays as fun because we didn’t often gather all at once. The poor bloody consultant couldn’t believe the dishonesty he witnessed as we strove to bring each other down. 😉 When he announced the “contest” he didn’t pick up on the threats mouthed quietly around the table “I’m coming for you ya useless bastard, you couldn’t tackle if yer life depended on it!”

    * the same jealous little personnel bloke who thought he had cleverly clipped our way more senior wings by getting a great rate across the country with some hotel chain or other. Our favourite hotels made good money from us and were happy to chop their rate a bit for a month or two ’til that stunt went away.

    Great days, enjoyable times.

  49. Des Deskperson

    “So while those public service numbskulls throw the taxpayers money around like confetti on these “courses” the poor bloody private sector just gets on with trying to make decent profits”.

    I would be rather extraordinarily surprised if many private sector organisations – particularly the large, hierarchical white-collar bureaucracies in the banking and insurance sectors – weren’t spending money and wasting time on exactly the same sorts of ‘L&D ‘ quackery as the APS.

    Of course, it’s not taxpayers money, although I imagine at least some of the cost is born by the consumer.

  50. Michael of Oberon

    Why is it that approximately 100% of the people who run gender equality courses are women? Could it be a product of unconscious bias? Or conscious bias?

  51. AP

    Did Treasury do any training on economic modelling, forecasting, or any subject matter actually related to their function?

  52. Monkey's Uncle

    Why is it that approximately 100% of the people who run gender equality courses are women?

    Gender equality means we should have affirmative action and aim for 50-50 outcomes if women are underrepresented or less successful in any area. Yet we should happily tolerate any inequalities that favour women.

    Why, it’s almost as if there is an ‘unconscious bias’ at work that makes people instinctively more sympathetic to the interests of females over males.

  53. Econocrat

    Did Treasury do any training on economic modelling, forecasting, or any subject matter actually related to their function?

    But what is there function?

    Fabricating propaganda?

    Spending?

    Advancing climate change?

    Providing international postings for the same SES munters who had to be sent on diversity training?

    Who knows?

  54. Squirrel

    Yea verily – it’s a revenue problem, not a spending problem……

  55. Copperfield

    Certainly no bias with Gareth(Keenan,not Evans),when he proclaimed:two lesbians,sisters…I’m just watching.’

  56. rebel with cause

    Never done performance agreements with my staff – I just ignore the emails from HR. Always found them a complete waste of time and money myself. They practically force you to come up with something you need training in and then waste taxpayers money on a stupid course to fulfill it. Working in a technical area, if we need to learn how to do something you Google it – and its free.

  57. ar

    unconscious bias

    Well, it is the public service after all. I guess this is bias that is evident when they are asleep at their desk.

  58. motherhubbard'sdog

    This bias has just imbibed too much at the Departmental Christmas party, and collapsed unconscious under a desk. It is expected to regain consciousness after a day or two in the Canberra Hospital. No permanent damage is expected. There were no brain cells detectable in the first place.

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