Contractors outnumber civil servants in Australia’s defence department

Consultants and contractors now outnumber permanent staff in Australia’s Department of Defence, its exasperated chief revealed last week during a webinar with 2,000 public servants from the ministry’s Science and Technology Group. Defence permanent secretary Dennis Richardson, who is expected to retire in the next few months, told officials that the department is using up […]

Report: ‘Deluded’ UK cannot afford to be smug on Brexit

Britain is in a weak negotiating position and will have to win the goodwill of leaders in Europe if it is to avoid economic chaos following Brexit, according to a report by independent think tank the Centre for European Reform (CER). With Theresa May set to trigger Article 50 in March, CER director Charles Grant […]

Kerslake review: Treasury ‘disempowers’ rest of Whitehall

The role of the UK Treasury has expanded to the point where it is “disempowering” other Whitehall departments, according to a review released this month by former Whitehall chief Bob Kerslake, who calls on the Treasury to revert to a more sharply defined mandate. The report argues that under powerful former chancellors Gordon Brown and […]

Indian Supreme Court challenges former officials appointed as state governors

The practice of appointing former senior civil servants to Indian state governor positions is coming under pressure, after several former officials were accused of failing in their duty to act with complete political neutrality. Governors are appointed by the federal government to perform an oversight role in elected state administrations, but recently several have fallen foul […]

US agency forges ahead with reforms to criminal record checks

US federal agencies are to be prohibited from enquiring about job applicants’ criminal records in the early stages of recruitment processes, according to guidance released this month by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The so-called ‘ban the box’ policy, which from 31 March will prohibit employers from conducting background checks until a conditional job […]

Australia’s government IT projects face scrutiny in new review

Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is to undertake a review of the government’s biggest technology projects. A newly-created Digital Investment Management Office within the DTA has been handed the brief to carry out the review, which is part of an effort by the Commonwealth government to get a handle on its AU$6.2bn (UK£3.8bn or US$4.8bn) […]

UK tax authority rejects Government Digital Service ID system

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the UK’s tax authority, has confirmed it is to develop a dedicated identity verification system for its online users – sparking a debate over why it isn’t adopting the Government Digital Service’s ‘Verify’ system, which was developed to provide a single ID-checking system for service users across government. The new […]

Indian budget focuses on digital economy and rural growth

The Indian government has announced that it will be banning cash transactions of greater than 300,000 Rupees (UK£3600 or US$4500), in a 2017-18 Budget which focuses on boosting the digital economy and rural growth. The move fits into India’s demonetisation agenda, designed to move the country towards a cashless economy – a project championed by […]

Canada offers civil service opportunities to indigenous students

The Canadian government has launched a drive to attract more young civil servants from indigenous groups. This week, Scott Brison, president of Canada’s Treasury Board, announced a scheme to provide post-secondary work experience in the National Capital Region (NCR), which covers Ottawa and Gatineau. The programme will offer on-the-job learning, professional development and networking plus […]

UK government releases digital transformation strategy

The UK government has unveiled its transformation strategy, aimed at harnessing digital technology to change the way it does business. The strategy, released yesterday, aims to build on the government’s 2012 Digital Strategy, which has focused on improving citizen experience of accessing online services. The new transformation strategy will focus on how digital technology can […]

Top officials gather to tackle shared challenges

Civil service leaders are gathering in Singapore today to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing governments around the world. Hosted by the Singapore Civil Service and organised by Global Government Forum, the Global Government Summit begins on Friday evening with a presentation by former UK cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell. The British peer’s talk will […]

Governments make fast progress on blockchain adoption

Nine in ten government organisations across the world are planning to invest in blockchain technology by 2018, according to a survey of public sector leaders. In a report based on the survey, technology firm IBM said that the emerging technology has the potential to help civil servants deal with the pressure of constrained resources and ageing […]

Automation ‘could replace 250,000 public sector administrators’

Automation could lead to almost a quarter of a million UK public sector administrative roles being made redundant, according to a new report. In a new report, the think tank Reform said that, over the next 15 years, technology could allow central government departments to reduce headcount by almost 132,000 of the total, saving £2.6bn […]

Women gain ground in Northern Ireland’s senior civil service

Males and Protestants outnumber females and Catholics at the most senior civil service grades in Northern Ireland, while the opposite is true for more junior positions, according to the latest statistics. The equality statistics for the Northern Ireland civil service, published on 31 January, give a snapshot of the composition of the workforce on 1 […]

Women prioritised in dead heat contests for top Irish jobs

Women are to be favoured in selection processes that find two candidates to be of equal merit, under new rules applying to senior jobs in Ireland’s civil service. On 16 January the minister for public expenditure and reform, Paschal Donohoe, announced a range of initiatives designed to produce a 50/50 gender split in civil service […]

US foreign service vacuum as Trump purges public servants

The entire top management team of the US state department left government last week, fueling fears that the foreign service will see a mass exodus of talent under president Donald Trump and incoming secretary of state Rex Tillerson. Patrick Kennedy resigned his position as undersecretary for management on 25 January, along with director of the […]

Populism enables ‘endemic corruption’, report warns

Transparency International has warned of “endemic corruption” in public sectors all over the world, after its analysis revealed that two-thirds of the 176 countries examined score less than half marks on the NGO’s anti-corruption scale. The global average score for the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, published on 25 January, is just 43 out of a […]

New European Parliament president sets conciliatory tone on Brexit

The new centre-right president of the European Parliament has told the UK prime minister that Britain will remain a key partner for the EU, whilst promising to protect the interests of EU citizens during Brexit negotiations. Theresa May phoned Antonio Tajani on 21 January to congratulate him on his new role. And the incoming president, […]

India to roll out cashless food subsidies system

A new cashless benefits distribution system is set to be rolled out across India, after a scheme introduced by a civil servant in a single district caught the eye of national policymakers. Ahmed Babu, an Indian Administrative Service officer serving as the District Magistrate of Krishna district in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, designed […]

Government communications ‘struggling’ to keep up in digital age, says new report

Rapid technological change and growing distrust of political elites are creating “unprecedented difficulties” for government communications functions in their work supporting public policy, according to a new report by advertising and PR giant WPP. ‘The Leaders’ Report’, a global survey of government communications leaders published this week by WPP’s Government and Public Sector Practice, paints […]