Long Awaited KPMG Report into Queensland Public Service a Let Down

Friday 20 July, 2018 | By: Daniel Petrie

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has welcomed the release of the KPMG report into effectiveness of the state’s public service hiring spree.

The report titled ‘Enhancing Performance Management and Service Delivery’ has been released some 12 months after CCIQ and media organisations requested it be made public.

CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy, Kate Whittle said the report highlights the obvious need to have metrics based reporting around the performance of government agencies but does little to explain the large recruitment drive from within the public service itself.

“The findings and recommendations around performance management while laudable, will be dismissed by many in the business community who live and breathe best practice daily,” Ms Whittle said.

“Disappointingly there is little detail within the report that addresses the addition of over 20,000 jobs public sector jobs since the 2015 election, and the overall consequences of a ballooning public service on Queensland’s debt position.

The KPMG report compared the performance of New Zealand’s public sector with Queensland government agencies observing outcomes based performance but in terms of money spent the comparison is more stark.

Queensland’s public service wage bill for 223,000 employees of A$27.3 billion for a workforce of 220,000 compares poorly next to New Zealand whose total public-sector expenditure is $NZD 22.6 billion for a total of 350,000 government employees (national and local).

Since their re-election, the Palaszczuk government has introduced a raft of new taxes and imposts that have undermined business confidence whilst the ranks of the public service has grown at an unsustainable rate.

“It is an affront to the business sector that has had to dramatically slash its cost base, contend with rampant electricity prices and rising rents whilst the state continues to swell in size.

Given the cost pressures facing both governments and business, CCIQ recommends a more prudent approach to the state’s finances:

(i)           Immediately arrest the growth of public sector jobs
(ii)          Address the significant gap in the growth between public and private sector wages by imposing a moratorium on Queensland public sector wage increases until the gap is at a more appropriate level.
(iii)         Establish an independent Budget Oversight Unit to make recommendations on government savings decisions, track progress towards achieving AAA credit rating, and cut red tape.

The latest quarter public services figures noted a decline in front line staff, while corporate employment increased. This reads as less jobs for nurses and teachers, and more jobs for corporate types, which contradicts the government’s line on this issue.

CCIQ reminds the government that corporate employment within public service must be assessed through the prism of budget responsibility.

The KPMG report also made the following key observations of note:

  • There are no clear roles and responsibilities to define what occurs at the centre of Government as opposed to agencies.
  • Agencies are often siloed in their operations and are only accountable for their own service lines.
  • There are examples of project specific cross agency collaboration but there is little systemic effort around major shared objectives.
  • There is no systemic mechanism for shared budget allocations to influence collaboration.
  • Very little policies or procedures exist to incentivise collaboration. Some attempts have been made to drive collaboration, for example, at the Leadership Board Level.
  • The 2013 QAO Report asserts that there is a definite gap in leadership around performance management.
  • Performance management needs to be cascaded down through agencies to drive culture (from objectives, to Ministerial Charter Letters, to CEO performance agreements, SES performance agreements, business planning and individual performance agreements).
  • Data sharing and analysis of information across Government does not occur to the full extent possible.
  • Whole-of-Government performance reporting may be motivated by compliance rather than an opportunity to monitor for the purposes of performance management and continuous improvement.
  • There is no mechanism in place to drive systemic performance improvement around the Government’s objectives for the community.