Upskill, collaborate, communicate.
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The usual rules are that when a freeze is on, jobs can only be filled internally, although there are often exemptions such as some frontline staff, fixed-term positions linked to specific projects and critical or revenue-raising positions that cannot be filled internally. Responses to the hiring ban can include staff acting up or people being transferred or seconded, or the dreaded: hiring contractors. The painful Australian Public Service hiring freeze began late in 2013 and lasted until mid-2015, after more than 10,000 jobs were shed. Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced a six-month halt to external recruitment in December last year, after forecasting a $3.1 billion hole in the state’s finances by the end of June 2016. Karen Evans, Managing Director of talent management company Acendre, which has many public service clients, spoke to Government News about how to survive and thrive when non-essential hiring shuts down. On paper a hiring freeze might appear grim and morale sapping but it can give also managers a chance to take stock of the people and range of skills that they have and to concentrate on training, developing and promoting them. It can also force people to think more strategically and critically about how efficiently they are working and to streamline processes. Of course, it may also leave staff feeling overworked or fearful about losing their jobs in the future. Ms Evans said human resources had an “absolutely critical role” to play - even in the short term - to support staff, explain the changes and manage them through it. “HR needs to get itself geared up to support their organisation, particularly initially,” she said. “A lot of managers will be wanting to fill critical roles where they may not be able to. How does HR support them? “There are changes but there are also huge opportunities with something like this. It’s a chance to think outside the box,” Ms Evans said. “Personally, I would be saying don’t try to sit tight and just wait it out.” She suggested managers looked at the roles and skills of the staff that they do have and list the skills and roles needed within the organisation. “Put development plans in place to revise or change roles that you actually need.” The focus should then be on upskilling staff and giving them opportunities to take on different responsibilities, perform new tasks or accept leadership roles in order to drive their enthusiasm. “People can get a lot of up and cross-skilling and their engagement really lifts. Put development plans in place for individuals. [Ask] can you merge or upskill roles?” There is also the chance to work more closely with other departments and agencies and collaborate on projects or even share staff. For example, the federal government's hiring freeze, it set up a business centre made up of part-time staff and underused staff and funnelled excess work from various teams. Ms Evans said it was also important to look at staff ready to redeploy and think about how to get them working in another department or agency. It can also be useful to seek advice from other departments or the same department at a different level of government that have already been through a hiring freeze. Brisbane City Council reduced the number of contracts it had and moved functions in-house. “It was a huge saving and it really drove engagement from people within the organisation, being able to do different things and increase their capabilities. It also helped teams work together in a more effective way,” she said. Despite the opportunities available, there is no point pretending that everyone will be happy about the freeze. It could lower morale, hit productivity or lead to employees walking out the door. The key to preventing this situation is to engage staff early on, explain what the changes might mean to them and come up with a plan to mitigate the more harmful effects, said Ms Evans. "Use this as an opportunity because I do think it is one.” [post_title] => Best of 2016: How to survive and thrive under a public sector hiring freeze [post_excerpt] => Upskill, collaborate, communicate. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => how-to-survive-and-thrive-under-a-public-sector-hiring-freeze [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 15:39:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 04:39:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23243 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21484 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-09-21 15:04:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-21 05:04:31 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_21485" align="alignnone" width="300"] Malcolm takes the train[/caption] The new broom sweeping through Canberra may have significant consequences for major state government rail projects. Malcolm Turnbull has specifically repudiated his predecessor Tony Abbott’s comment that Commonwealth government funding for infrastructure should be limited to roads. Turnbull, a noted bus and train traveller, said the Commonwealth should not discriminate between modes of transportation. “There is no ‘roads are not better than mass transit’ or vice versa, each has their place,” said Mr Turnbull after winning the leadership of the Liberal Party. “Infrastructure should be assessed objectively and rationally on its merit. There is no place for ideology here at all.’’ A number of state leaders have taken Mr Turnbull's comments as a sign that he may back public transport projects in their own backyards. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews met with Mr Turnbull within days of his elevation to the prime ministership. They discussed, amongst other things, funding for Melbourne Metro rail project, which is proceeding apace after the incoming Andrews Labor government cancelled the giant East-west link road project, “I would welcome a strong and significant financial contribution from the Turnbull government in recognition of the new Prime Minister's clear sense that public transport is so important,” Mr Andrews said. Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said she had already sent list of potential rail projects to Mr Turnbull, including a ‘no brainer’ business case for extending the Gold Coast’s successful light right project ahead of the city’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in April 2018. Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said on ABC radio that he hoped Mr Turnbull would expand the Federal Government's infrastructure funding to include rail as well as roads. Mr Barnett’s government is facing funding problems with its proposed Max light rail project and airport rail link. Mr Turnbull's comments about funding have been interpreted as a direct dig at Tony Abbott, who wrote in his 2009 book Battlelines of ‘Kings in Their Own Cars’, saying public transport was not suited to Australia’s sprawling ‘suburban metropolises’. “In Australia’s big cities, public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and a still a hideous drain of the public purse. Part of the problem is inefficient, over-manned, union-dominated, government-run train and bus systems," Mr Abbott said in his book. “Mostly, there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads.” Mr Abbott’s bias against public transport was seen by many as part of his ideological mindset. In 2013 he said: “We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it is important that we stick to our knitting. And the Commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads.” If a week is a long time in politics, then the last seven days has been an eternity. [post_title] => PM’s public transport comments encourage state leaders [post_excerpt] => Infrastructure does not mean only roads, says Malcolm Turnbull [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => pms-public-transport-comments-encourage-state-leaders [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-21 17:08:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-21 07:08:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21484 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20983 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2015-08-11 10:57:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-08-11 00:57:43 [post_content] => Local councils in Western Australia are gearing up for a fight after WA Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said he wanted a ‘discussion’ on council rates and WA Premier Colin Barnett called some council rate rises “unacceptable”. Mr Simpson had initially threatened to hold a ministerial inquiry into council rates, which would have included the possibility of introducing rate capping – a regime loathed by NSW councils, that have been saddled with it since 1978. An inquiry would have been sure to look at whether to yoke rate increases to the Consumer Price Index, which is currently at its lowest in years, or to the Local Government Cost Index, which measures how much council expenditure has risen. Last month, WA Premier Colin Barnett slammed recent WA council rate rises, some of which were double the CPI of 2.5 per cent and said that the government was looking at ways of forcing councils to keep a lid on rate rises. But the state government’s comments have left the WA Local Government Association (WALGA) hopping mad. WALGA President Lynne Craigie has warned that if rate capping goes head in WA the state would wind up with drastically run-down infrastructure as councils scrambled to underwrite maintenance costs and spent far less on asset management, a process which she said had been happening for years in NSW. Ms Craigie also hit back at state government criticisms of local council rate increases. “Local Government is the only sphere of government that isn’t operating in a massive deficit situation,” Ms Craigie said. “Criticism of local government rates’ increases above 5 per cent doesn’t compare to State charges increasing far beyond this such as the Emergency Services Levy, up 10.6 per cent; street lighting up 7.5 per cent and water up 6 per cent, to name a few,” she said. “So if State charges are a measure of the cost increases that the community is capable of absorbing, council rates don't deserve anywhere near the level of attention being directed at them by the Premier.” She said rate capping would not improve service delivery to ratepayers. "Rate capping isn't good financial management. It creates a higher expense in the long run, that the State will ultimately have to take responsibility for. "This approach begs the question of what the State’s true agenda might be. Whatever the questions are about Local Government, I'm absolutely certain that rate capping doesn't hold the answers.” Relations have been somewhat strained between local and state government in WA since Mr Barnett failed in his bid to reduce the number of Perth’s metropolitan councils from 30 to 16, following a backlash from communities and councils. Mr Barnett has since blamed some of the highest council rates hikes on this failed amalgamation attempt, saying that in many cases it was smaller councils putting up rates and blaming councils for rejecting reforms, an accusation which WALGA rejects. But Ms Craigie said that “a public slanging match” would not help diffuse the situation, “I would like to think we could have a genuine, adult, conversation about what concerns the State Government has and the best way to go about resolving them in partnership”. “There is no denying that it's absolutely critical we participate in a discussion with our State Government in the context of reviewing all taxes, including rates, in that debate,” Cr Craigie said. [post_title] => WA councils rail against rate capping [post_excerpt] => Minister backs away from inquiry but wants discussion. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-councils-rail-against-rate-capping [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-08-11 11:58:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-08-11 01:58:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20983 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20679 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-07-20 14:30:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-20 04:30:48 [post_content] => The Western Australian Government has called for submissions for an inquiry it announced last month into information and communications technology procurement and contract management in the state. The WA public sector spends at least $1 billion per year on ICT goods and services. Explaining the need for an inquiry, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has issued a statement saying: “Over the last ten years, consecutive governments have struggled to ensure that the significant expenditure on ICT is achieving the best possible outcomes. “The WA Government has been criticised by industry, the media and the Auditor General for its lack of capacity in delivering ICT projects and achieving positive ICT outcomes more generally.” The inquiry is the result of a 2014 report by Auditor-General Colin Murphy, which found the state was paying much more than it needed to for ICT and should tighten its technology procurement practices. The WA Government announced in its May state budget that it would cut more than $100 million from the ICT budgets of individual departments and agencies, establish instead a central ‘ICT Renewal and Reform’ fund, and appoint a state Chief Information Officer, who will sit within the Department of Finance and develop a whole of government ICT plan. The PAC says submissions should address any of the following questions:
- What are the common problems witnessed in public sector delivery of ICT goods and services?
- What elements represent best practice in ICT delivery?
- How do we best measure or define success in ICT delivery?
- What are the latest developments (domestic or international), in the area of government ICT systems?
- What jurisdictions (domestic or international) have adopted the latest developments in government ICT systems that have demonstrably reduced the cost, and improved the delivery, of government services?
- Could such systems be incorporated into Western Australia? If so, what factors need to be taken into account to ensure successful implementation?
- Implementing policies that drive and guide government adoption of new service delivery models and technologies, such as cloud computing.
- Stimulating and developing local industry through universities, start-ups and small to medium enterprises.
- Creating online ‘one stop shop’ portals to rationalise and simplify government services.
- Centralisation and consolidation strategies to reduce costs such as purpose built government data centres.
- Revisiting and redeveloping ICT procurement strategies and frameworks.
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Hostilities have erupted between the Western Australian government and the local government sector over State Budget cuts to funding for controversial metropolitan council mergers.