If someone else was paying for it, you would really find the Australian Public Service funny.  Like if they were the Kiwis picking up the tab.  But we Aussie taxpayers, the very few net tax payers of us there are, likely won’t find this funny:

The Australian Public Service (APS) Review identified that APS employees spend up to 40% of their time on tasks that could be automated.

And 100% of APS Reviews into APS employees are useless.

Also interestingly:

In all likelihood, the automation and digitisation of APS activities will further shift workforce demand from unskilled to skilled employees.

Great to know that billions of dollars are being spent on unskilled employees.

But what is being done to automate these tasks?  NUFFIN.  A big fat NUFFIN.  What is being done:

  1. Get the governance right.
  2. Redesign work to maximise an augmented workforce.
  3. Build skills and knowledge.

But here is the question that the APS should ask but will never ask – not what proportion of tasks could be automated but rather what proportion of tasks can be stopped, entirely, and never restarted.  It seems the purpose of the APS is to serve and grow the APS and so would never asks something like that.

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11 Responses to Revelation

  1. stackja

    One day maybe OPM will run out.
    APS will end too.

  2. Rafe Champion

    Yes a department in Canberra hired consultants to develop a data base with no special requirements, every other dept in town has data bases and any one of many could have been used off the rack without starting from scratch.

    Another case, 70Mil spend on consultants to streamline data bases of CSIRO. More unbelievable waste on consultants doing absurd things with pointless meetings. (information leaked from consultants).

  3. NuThink

    How about the money spent on the Royal Adelaide Hospital computer system. Anyone know if it is working yet? Where they spent hundreds of millions and got nothing working. Had to get paper records and store them off site and in containers as the weight of the paper was too much for the building.

    BTW None of this is rocket control and spaceship control – it is plain and simple logistics type computing.

  4. Entropy

    The unit I worked in the APS once had a 40 string typing pool, and 20 policy staff. By the time I rocked up it was down to 11 policy people total. The typing pool had disappeared.

    I doubt this estimate. Some ignorant dickhead had decided to classify jobs as ones that could be automated that in reality cannot. Odds are very high the loser had in fact never actually done the job themselves, but was able to produce the required report.

  5. Up The Workers!

    The $1.3 Billion worth of catatonic bum-shining pencil-pushers and dribbling Leftard presstitute toadies on the taxpayers’ teat at the A.L.P.B.C. are doing a task which is performed both more hygienically and far cheaper by an automated hand-blower in a public lavatory.

    Close it down!

  6. Suburban Boy

    Automation of APS functions doesn’t always work out well.

    Exhibit One: Robodebt.

  7. Entropy

    The jobs that are the target of this automation report are no doubt the ones that require some content knowledge. The endless explosion of clipboard warriors and low end SES positions are not the target of this report.

  8. Amadeus

    Having worked in the system both as an insider and then as an outside consultant, the following are some learned observations:

    1. if you were to remove 1/3 of existing public servants at all levels from any sphere of government, nobody would notice and productivity would increase
    2. if you cut 50% of existing government “programs” and instrumentalities (i.e. mostly spending taxpayer money on programs with no worthwhile outcomes to the community as a whole) the government debt would be wiped out without within 3-5 years
    3. if you removed duplication of funding, activities and staffing across local, state and federal governments, there would be additional resources to pump into areas requiring government input and speeding up the delivery of major community infrastructure including new baseload energy supplies, dams, defence spending, etc..
    4. withdraw from international agreements which no longer serve the public interest of Australia
    5. shut down 50% of our embassies and AUSTRADE offices which produce nothing but useless reports and provide an enviable lifestyle for public servants at taxpayer expense.
    6. I could go on and on and on, but that’s enough to get started with…

  9. Entropy

    No doubt in the future the plan is for public servants to be nothing more than contract managers, their days monitoring milestones and authorising payments. Consultants are brought in after winning a contract through a highly convoluted process, which miraculously ends up appointing a senior SES officer’s mates, to write policy or write the framework for a program that preferably, they can construct a plan for someone else to do.

    These consultancies will consist of a small group of highly paid partners who spend their days smoozing politicians and aforementioned senior SES. In turn the partners will get an underling to engage on contract from a contract pool of policy writers (semi retired or graduate, it matters not) who manage to get about three months of work a year and are paid a pittance by the partners.

    This will not result in a reduction in public servants, as the contract management process will need considerable oversight and WH&S monitoring from corporate areas, as well as other consultants employed full time to audit the whole process. And let’s not forget the opportunities for corporate campaign great and good. You know, those that get to get themselves promoted to highly paid positions and spend enormous sums of OPM on noble cause projects like “White Ribbon” etc. etc.

    Additionally, senior SES will engage these consultants to write reports to explain why jobs requiring high subject knowledge needs to be “automated” or if that is not possible, transferred out of their area of responsibility. Their goal is a “mobile public service” which maximises chances of advancement for content free people like themselves by making every job a cookie cutter where anyone with the right connections can slot in. These clipboard warriors will then spend their days being acknowledged for their valuable contributions to the public service, as if that is an end in itself and the reason their job exists.

  10. Amadeus

    Perfectly summarised, Entropy..nothing to add.

  11. Amadeus

    I stopped seeking government consultancy contracts 25 years ago. I was sick of attending meetings, sick of conferring with senior bureaucrats who were simply empire building, sick of writing reports and recommendations that were mostly shelved because there was never any intention of changing anything.

    Change is anathema in bureaucratic circles unless it leads to a new or bigger empire and promotions all round.

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