CPDS Home Contact Professionalism: Chronological Summary

3 October, 1999

To Mr Len Scanlan,
Auditor General, Queensland Audit Office

An Operation is not really Successful if the Patient Dies

Thanks for sending me a copy of your Auditor General's Report No 1 for 1999-2000, which considered the issuance of an Interactive Gaming Licence to GOCORP.

Your investigation showed that proper procedures were followed in issuing this licence. A parallel Criminal Justice Commission investigation reportedly reached the same conclusion.

However issuing the licence was clearly a foolish action. Thus the reports have not proven that no one did anything wrong, but only that your approaches to investigating the matter (ie seeking signs of corruption, or defective procedures) have not shown what it was.

My letter of 3/8/99 had suggested considering the adequacy of the role of the Public Service in dealing with this affair, because:

The real problem may well be that (due to politically driven de-skilling) the Public Service can now often do little more than mechanically follow 'proper procedures', and has an inadequate ability to do what is really required of it (ie ensure that those 'proper procedures' lead to sensible, practical outcomes in the public interest).

However neither of the reports seems to have considered whether those who undertook the 'proper procedures' did so proficiently in terms of what one should expect of a competent / independent Public Service. Furthermore tinkering with (QOGR's) procedures (which both reports appear to have suggested) seems unlikely to prevent future damaging outcomes, if the real source of the problem does not lie in the procedures used.

I enclose for your consideration a copy of a letter to Professor Richard Mulgan (ANU). The letter concerns (and contains a brief summary of) Professor Mulgan's recent AJPA article which argued that politicisation of senior Public Service appointments may have a more serious impact on professional competence than it has on political independence. Professor Mulgan's suggestions about how the problem might be remedied are worth considering.

[Signed John Craig]