Let them eat paleo pear bread

Global pandemic.  Cratering economy.  Decimated private sector.  Huge jump in unemployment and business insolvency.  But for our bureaucratic establishment, it’s business as usual.

Friday 31 July 2020 was an important day in the public servant calendar.  This was the day that the Public Sector Innovation Awards were held.  Two concepts that don’t generally go together.

Previously, these were swankier affairs, but this year, ceremony was a more intimate, by-invitation-only event.  But fret not.  It was streamed so that a nation of public servants can tool down to watch.

According to the Institute of Public Administration Australia:

A successful public service is one that can find new and better ways of doing things, and that can solve problems in new ways. It is one where new ideas are tried and tested, and where old approaches are phased out and replaced with new, more suitable and effective methods. It is one that is innovative.

Value for money?  Legislated obligations?  Citizen?  No.  Don’t be ridiculous.  It’s about new and better ways.

So.  What does a successful and innovative Australian public sector look like?  Well.  Here are some of the winners:

Services Australia (also) won a “judges’ award” for its streamlined digital JobSeeker claim experience, which was entered in the “citizen-centred innovation” category.

The streamlined delivery of JobSeeker has reduced the need for staff intervention and removed steps where people need to call or visit the agency in person. This has proven to be a crucial innovation during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly when the agency faced unprecedented demand.

Basically, an online application for JobSeeker.  And it’s only 2020 and Australians can now apply for the dole online.

How about this one:

The Department of Parliamentary Services took home the “judges’ award” for its innovative cyber security awareness program, ‘Classified’.

The program was nominated in the “culture and capability” category. It uses public-private partnerships and storytelling methods to promote cyber security awareness among users, which the judges noted could be adapted for use by other organisations.

Really impressive given the huge cyber hack the Parliament experienced recently.

One more:

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has taken home the award for “citizen-centred innovation” for its Regional University Centres program.

The program provides students with the option to remain in their regional or remote community while undertaking their study online in a fully supported campus-like environment, which the judges believed was “a unique and creative approach to higher education”.

A really impressive innovation to allow students to study online, in 2020.  Particularly given the Department does not operate any higher education facilities.

But, after all, we are all in this together.  Cake anyone?

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37 Responses to Let them eat paleo pear bread

  1. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    A successful public service is one that …

    … does not exist. Or if that can’t be arranged, one that cost about eleventy gazillion less than it costs now.

  2. Rex Anger

    @ TAFKAS-

    Under the mystical dictates of the ‘Palaeo’ diet, bread of any sort is strictly verboten. The argument being that if you cannot hunt it, catch it, pick it off a tree or argue with a bear over the contents of the berry bush, then it clearly mustn’t be good for you.

    Palaeo Pear Bread is thus an oxymoron…

    …Much like The Public Service.

  3. Bruce

    Timing is everything!

    I just wasted an entire day dealing with MyGov, and the Job-seeker thing.

    Utter nightmare. Not on a “device”; will NEVER go there, but on a fairly serious desk-top job.

    Site software was obviously NEVER Beta-tested before going live. Slice and splice bloatware.

    I came in when Fortran and punched cards were all the rage, hopping over to 8-Bit CPM machines in the early 1980s and then back to Fortran briefly. Have not written code for long time but have been using stuff like AutoCad and Solidworks, on and off, for almost two decades. Both those packages have had a few funnies here and there, but being commercially-driven, I suspect the suppliers have different “attitudes” to problems-solving..

  4. I started with NEC mainframes where you used a pencil to mark the cards, punch cards were unheard of until years later. But public service innovation? FMD!

  5. jupes

    So. What does a successful and innovative Australian public sector look like?

    Surely one that requires less money to function.

    Has the cost of the public service dropped?

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    A successful public service is one that can find new and better ways of doing things,

    LOL!

    and that can solve problems in new ways.

    LOL.

    It is one where new ideas are tried and tested,

    LOL!!

    and where old approaches are phased out and replaced with new, more suitable and effective methods.

    LOL!

    It is one that is innovative.

    LOL! The Institute of Public Administration Australia, whoever they are, must be comedians.

  7. Rex Anger

    Ummm, Mr… Mr. TAFKAS? Can c-can I-I send you my bill for T-trauma Counselling, please?

    🥺

    I barely made it halfway thru the video before it was too much. I’m going back to my safe corner now. This’ll need at least 2 full repetitions of the Panzerlied, one Radetzky and a few emergency renditions of Scotland The Brave/The Black Bear at full (bag)pipe to recover from the utter rattling of my faith in Australia’s PS institutions that I just experienced.

    (How the hell did that make it onto the Internet?! That is an abomination of buzzwords, bad acting and Food That Should Not Be…)

  8. John A

    It is one that is innovative.

    Value for money? Legislated obligations? Citizen? No. Don’t be ridiculous. It’s about new and better ways.

    So. What does a successful and innovative Australian public sector look like?

    The APS is clearly operating at about the same or lesser speed than previously thought. They are now one complete Prime Minister behind the times. Scott Morrison – isn’t he over at Tourism?

  9. John A

    Rex Anger #3531519, posted on August 1, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Ummm, Mr… Mr. TAFKAS? Can c-can I-I send you my bill for T-trauma Counselling, please?

    Poor Rex. You clearly need not trauma counselling but training in APS-alertness and buzz-word inoculation.

    Report to your next Catictionary class which commences Monday at 0900 on this channel. Coffee essential. 🙂

  10. Colonel Bunty Golightly

    Makes one want to spew. A massive waste of time and money to celebrate a massive waste of time and money!

  11. I’m actually off to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff meeting.

    Gotta zip!

  12. Rex Anger

    @John A-
    Poor Rex. You clearly need not trauma counselling but training in APS-alertness and buzz-word inoculation.

    I used to be one! Albeit a front-line ‘elf worker. I used to have to translate for my workmates whatever Koolaid the frontline and middle managers had been snorting when they met the Powers That Be and tried to spin away their own incompetence as our fault. Then dump on us even more silly demands and restrictions when they returned. That sort of buzzword-heavy miasma becomes quite corrosive over time… Ick. 🤢

    As a Soldier and JNCO, that sort of stupidity was kept well (and safely) away from the coalface.

    But Catictionary class sounds alright. Do you do distance ed? 😛

  13. Rex Anger

    I’m actually off to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff meeting.

    Gotta zip!

    Have they cancelled Zip yet? I’m curious to see what problematic connotations can be pulled out of academic orifices to justify it.

    It all sounds like that Monty Python sketch about words

    (Skip ahead to 2:14. How the hell nobody thought to preserve a complete original sketch about strong, woody words is utterly beyond me).

  14. Entropy

    Services Australia (also) won a “judges’ award” for its streamlined digital JobSeeker claim experience, which was entered in the “citizen-centred innovation” category.

    The key features of jobkeeper is that eligibility seems to be based on the ATO advice and not the machinations of DHS, whose Byzantine form for Newstart and associated schemes like the Farm Household Allowance is renowned. And not in a good way.

    But the key difference is Jobkeeper has bugger all rules and criteria. Hence stories about schoolgirls working casual two hours a week suddenly finding themselves with $750 a week on jobkeeper without having to turn up. Eventually additional rules will creep in if course to try and stop these stories.

    Meantime some coalition politicians are hearing how much easier to apply for jobkeeper than say, the FHA is, and want the Jobkeeper rules to apply to the other schemes as well.

    The ever diminishing ranks of net taxpayers will fund it of course. No doubt funded via an increase in the GST. Sorry, tax reform.

  15. Entropy

    As for jobseeker, it is just a top up. Watch much of it become permanent.
    Meanwhile try and employ a low skilled Australian.

  16. Squirrel

    I didn’t have the strength to re-watch the Game-Changers video, but my strong recollection from the time was sadness at the unfailing knack of large bureaucracies – particularly of the public sector variety – to cultivate and misuse a sense of almost bullet-proof, detached-from-reality smugness and superiority which artfully presents itself as nobly altruistic.

  17. a reader

    I see the Conspiracy Against Sensible Aviation didn’t pick up any awards. How surprising! Not…

  18. Russell

    In Oz it is getting harder to find a competent “judge” of anything these days, even in law. So many diversity and marginal considerations makes to impossible to make call without somebody being offended. So much better to just give everyone a gong or just hit up the side with the most money. And PS memory is so short that they can’t recognize a repeat idea from just a few years ago.

  19. Davey Boy

    I’ m cool with the everyone gets a trophy vibe of the PSIAs, as long as what they handed out looks like this

  20. nb

    ‘Basically, an online application for JobSeeker. And it’s only 2020 and Australians can now apply for the dole online.’
    I am a public servant, so I can explain: Online doesn’t actually mean a queue outside an office. It actually refers to a new innovation taking application for the dole to the next level using a new and interesting breakthrough we call the interweb. Look it up in a recent edition of Encyclopaedia Brittanica. It’s an amazing new tool also used in Australia’s security services.

  21. Neil

    Costello got rid of the Defined Benefit Scheme for Public Servants. Not sure when but i guess around 2005. But these people are still on 15.4% Super much higher than most people.

    Why do Public Servants get better Super than most people in the private sector?

  22. HT

    Costello got rid of the Defined Benefit Scheme for Public Servants. Not sure when but i guess around 2005. But these people are still on 15.4% Super much higher than most people.

    Why do Public Servants get better Super than most people in the private sector?

    1996 or thereabouts. And the reason they get better Superannuation and general condition of service is that Government seeks to be a “model employer”. Don’t shoot the messenger…

  23. HT

    I remember well the Graduate Program within Defence. Not fondly. Paleo Pear Bread sums up the pampered pratt’s experience over the 12 months training program perfectly.

  24. HT

    Neil
    #3531842, posted on August 2, 2020 at 12:11 am
    Costello got rid of the Defined Benefit Scheme for Public Servants. Not sure when but i guess around 2005. But these people are still on 15.4% Super much higher than most people.

    Your right, it was 2005.

  25. PoliticoNT

    The Department of Parliamentary Services took home the “judges’ award” for its innovative cyber security awareness program, ‘Classified’.

    Yeeeah, and earlier this year ANAO were going to run an audit of some elements of ‘security’ that the DPS had run, including some massive cluster-fxxx involving security doors paid for my dodgy Russian money. Came to naught. Might have threatened this award.

  26. PoliticoNT

    *by* dodgy Russian money

  27. PoliticoNT

    I remember well the Graduate Program within Defence. Not fondly. Paleo Pear Bread sums up the pampered pratt’s experience over the 12 months training program perfectly.

    Oh yeah HT, Defence grads are special. (Say ‘special’ like you’re Snoop Dog singing an ad for MenuLog.) My recent time in SPDIV was a highlight on that front. (Loud) daily updates amongst themselves during the Democrat primaries. (There is no manner of ways to pronounce ‘wanker’ to cover that morning experience.) Deranged carry on about Pres Trump. The thinking and writing skills of a bunch of BLM organisers. And a veneer of seriousness you could cut with a knife.

  28. PoliticoNT

    Talking of other cluster-fxxxs, Homeland Affairs were on the point of contracting out immigration controls to a private British mob. Had burned through $250m+ from memory. There was some connection with the Liberal Party from memory. Again, early this year, ANAO red flagged it for a look see. Pezzullo stepped in and cancelled the contract.

    Innovation…..

  29. HT

    PoliticoNT
    #3531928, posted on August 2, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Oh yeah HT, Defence grads are special. (Say ‘special’ like you’re Snoop Dog singing an ad for MenuLog.) My recent time in SPDIV was a highlight on that front. (Loud) daily updates amongst themselves during the Democrat primaries. (There is no manner of ways to pronounce ‘wanker’ to cover that morning experience.) Deranged carry on about Pres Trump. The thinking and writing skills of a bunch of BLM organisers. And a veneer of seriousness you could cut with a knife.

    And of course, like (almost) all civilians employed by Defence, are deeply contemptuous of actual uniformed ADF members.

  30. Kneel

    “They are now one complete Prime Minister behind the times.”

    Yes indeed – see how much improvement there has been? Only one behind! Just 4 years! No longer 20, now just 4. And we only had to double their budget (staff, of course, only increased by 50%) every year for 10 years to do it.
    So, now when you apply, it’s online, right? See, saves on pens – now we just print it out, then scan it in as usual. Even more efficient because the printer and scanner are one – so no need to load it up, it’s already in the machine. I tell ya, we definately need that auto-throw-it-in-the-bin thingy, then it’ll be even more efficient!

  31. Kneel

    Oh yeah “streamlined” – sounds so much better than “moat”, doesn’t it? Much more civilised.

  32. Fair Shake of the Sauce Bottle

    Reminds me of a few years back working for an Automotive brand. State Manager volunteered myself and a couple of others to attend the Queensland Public Service Awards night. An event we were encouraged to sponsor if we wanted to tender for their fleet of vehicles. Up on Stage was their ABC presenter Maxine McKew being of independent mind MC for the evening. It was held in a convention hall. The awards sounded very high brow but lacked any relevance. McKew and Peter Beatie has a 30min love in on stage. A tight group of Beattie minions 20-30 sat in the crowd and clapped and cheered every intro, award, fake smile and ABC insider quip. We all looked at each other and asked WTF? Anyway independent reporter McKew steps fwd several years later as a Labor candidate. Like finding out Liberace was gay, no one saw that coming.

  33. Pyrmonter

    Which is the better way to promote productive and effective change in the middle ranks of the public service:

    – non-financial prizes awarded to teams; or

    – financial incentives that allow strategic gaming of systems to the advantage of the individual recipients: of the sorts the agencies allowed to extract fees from the public (eg the Lands Titles offices – now ‘privatised’ (effectively, the excessive charges farmed out like biblical taxes), but after decades of over-charging for simple registry services).

    Or … we can take the approach that nothing should ever change: after all, all change brings with it risk, the very last people able to manage those risks are the members of the political ministry.

    Of all the complaints about the APS, this should be the least.

  34. David

    I wouldn’t worry too much about this lot – let them enjoy it while they can. In the not too distant future many of them will lose their jobs because the rest of us will be on the public teat, paying no taxes to support their employment.

  35. French Aussie

    Dear Tafkas did you have to post that video? I was just having lunch.

  36. Who won the prestigious

    “We’re all in this together” award?

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