Friday, 18 June 2021

The Professionals Australia submission to the Australian Public Service Hierarchy and Classifications Review calls for urgent investment in technical and professional staff to ensure that the Australian Public Service (APS) can continue delivering high quality services to the Australian community and save valuable taxpayer dollars.

Director of Professionals Australia’s ACT Branch and Australian Government Group, Dale Beasley, said technical and professional structures in the APS were needed to ensure Government failures like The COVIDsafe app, robodebt, the census outage and 2.5 million Australians opting out of the My Health Record following 42 separate data breaches, are not a recurring theme.

“Outsourcing, is too often equal parts poor culture and poor structures. The APS fails on both. Too often APS leadership see technical skills and workforce as something that can be bought off the shelf. This mindset exists because the structures do not allow them to think otherwise.

“David Thodey AO in his review ”Our Public Service, Our Future – Independent Review of the Australian Public Service” recognised that the existing APS structures do not nurture STEM staff to meet today’s challenges. Culture and structure must both be reformed. The skills shortages are not a future problem, they are with us in the present, which is why action is so urgent.

Mr Beasley said that almost three-quarters of APS agencies reported critical skill shortages with the most common being in; Data 70%, Digital 54%, and ICT 40%.

Almost half of APS employees said their workgroup was experiencing skill and capability gaps with ICT the highest.

“The Department of Defence has two outsourced staff for every government employee and the number of outsourced staff is bigger than the entire Australian Army.

“Outsourcing only makes the APS more expensive now, more expensive later and less able to respond to challenges on an ongoing basis.

“ A massive uplift will be required in ICT staff in the coming years and the APS is clearly not tooled up to meet this challenge, given the technical failures we have witnessed.

“We urgently call on the Federal Government to invest in the APS technical and professional staff to build and maintain much needed capacity and to save taxpayer dollars. We urgently call on the APS leadership to change the culture and thinking to invest deeply in technical and professional staff.”

The APS hierarchy and classification review is one of approximately twenty major reviews into the APS over the last decade. Professionals Australia has called for separate classification structures for technical and specialist skilled staff, which exist commonly, but haphazardly across agencies, is formalised APS-wide.

Media Contact: Darren Rodrigo – 0414783405