CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

1 November 2001

Scott Prasser

'Efficiency review long overdue'

I noted your enthusiasm for the proposed Service Delivery and Performance Commission, and must unfortunately pour a little cold water on the concept.

My interpretation of your article: Appointment of Service Delivery and Performance Commission suggests that Queensland Public Service will be hacked down to size. It was said to 'audit departments and determine whether any further fat can be cut' to achieve $20-100m in efficiencies. Efficiency Commission are not new - noting National Commission of Audit in 1996 and Queensland Commission of Audit. Many of latter's proposals were put in 'too hard basket' (eg energy / water reform, infrastructure priorities, sale of GOEs, benchmarking of government services, better information base, review of government assistance to industry, independent health service planning), Given current problems these issues are re-emerging. Good times are over for public service. SDPC is overdue because (a) temporary audit bodies achieve little (b) Fitzgerald reform process needs re-igniting (c) existing bodies such as OPSME and Auditor General need support (d) external reviews can achieve little because of lack of inside knowledge. As a permanent body SDPC can overcome these problems, while Chairman will have needed authority (being politically hand picked). Its location in Premier's Department (not Treasury) shows close connection to power. It is not just about finding a job for a political hack - because government's problems are too serious. Water supply functions need to be taken from Local Government. New personnel practices are needed; and new performance standards; as well as privatisation of some functions. These issues face vested interests. Departmental structures need radical change (eg to carve up previous Treasurer's empire - eg downgrading Office of Urban Management). SDPC's establishment reinforces trend towards centralization of power - which may allow needed reforms, but presents risks. (Prasser S., 'Efficiency review long overdue', Courier Mail, 1/11/05)

While there seems little doubts that there is scope to 'cut fat' from Queensland's Public Service the proposed Service Delivery and Performance Commission (SDPC) is unlikely to be an effective way to achieve progress because:

These points are developed in more detail in Lifting Productivity in Queensland's Public Service on my web-site.

I would be interested in your reactions to my speculations.


John Craig