Public servants give APS tick of approval

By Angela Dorizas

The Australian public service has scored positive  results in the area of ethics, integrity and employee satisfaction, according to the 2007-2008 State of the Service report tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The report found that of the 17 per cent of APS employees who were in contact with ministers or ministerial advisers between 2007 and 2008, only 20 per cent reported facing a challenge in balancing the need to be apolitical and impartial. This is a significant drop from the 33 per cent recorded in 2004-05 when it was last tested.

The Australian Public Service Commissioner Lynelle Briggs said this was due to the Government’s reinvigoration of the Westminister tradition, a decrease in APS staff contact with ministers and their advisers, and a fall in number of ministerial advisers under the Rudd Government.

According to the report, 92 per cent of employees were familiar with the APS values and code of conduct and only 669 public servants (0.4 per cent) breached the code of conduct in 2007-08.

"This year there were generally high levels of confidence among staff that their leaders and colleagues behave with integrity," Ms Briggs said.

"But we cannot be complacent, in light of the range of emerging vulnerabilities resulting from changing labour markets, from new technologies and from the need to think and co-operate outside our own “boxes” to meet national and global challenges, as well as from the existing challenges of operating ethically in a highly charged political environment.

"We must have in place systems, processes and training to ensure that public servants know and understand their ethical obligations because we can’t be confident that they will always make the right ethical decisions."

The report also found that 77 per cent of APS employees were satisfied with the job attributes they identidied as important and 80 per cent said they would recommend the APS as a good place to work.

The report delivered welcome results for women within the APS, who now make up 57.6 per cent of all employees. The number of women in senior level roles improved slightly, with women comprising 37 per cent of the senior executive service and 45 per cent of executive level staff.

However, in the area of Indigenous recruitment and retention the public service performed poorly. Indigenous employees make up only 2 per cent of the federal public service.

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