Aus public service fifth best in world but not as good as Kiwis

Australia has the fifth best public service in the world according to a report by a British think tank, which ranks the UK at number one and puts New Zealand in second place.

The APS was also beaten by Canada’s civil service, which was ranked third, and fourth-placed Finland. Hungary languishes at the bottom of the table at number 38.

The Institute for Government’s International Civil Service Effectiveness Index (InCiSE) evaluated 38 public services from around the world, coming up with an overall ranking for each nation and a position on the ladder across 12 indicators including financial management, integrity, procurement and crisis management.

Australia achieved above average scores for all indicators and came in at number five with a “noteworthy” crisis and risk management score, the report says.

Australia also does well on policy making and regulation, ranked 7th for both, and for integrity and inclusiveness where it came in at number eight for both. Its lowest ranking was 15 for digital services, coming in behind Mexico.

However, Australia has slipped down the world rankings this year after being ranked third in the 2017 report.

The objective of the index, which was piloted in 2017,  is to “help countries determine how their central civil services are performing and learn from each other,” the institute says.

“InCiSE aims to assess how effectively civil services around the world perform and to identify in which areas their strengths lie relative to their international counterparts”

The index measures 11 ‘core functions’ described as “the key things a civil service does” and six ‘attributes’ seen as “the main characteristics of a civil service that can drive what they do”.

Commonwealth countries dominate top of table

David Thodey

The report notes “some interesting trends” with four Commonwealth countries in the top five.

“The The Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden) are also placed highly, with all but Iceland in the top 10. The remaining countries of northern and western Europe tend to rank more highly than countries in southern and eastern Europe,” the authors add.

“Countries from outside Europe are distributed throughout the ranking.”

The release of the index comes as the APS faces a major review ordered by the then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in May 2018 and designed to make Australia’s 150,000-strong public service fit for the future.

An interim report released on March 19 and titled Priorities for Change calls for measures to strengthen governance and partnerships, increase flexibility and invest in fostering talent.

Review Chair David Thodey is expected to hand down the report in the middle of the year.

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