In Brief | Summer Reading 2018


The following resources are newly published items on public sector issues that may make for interesting reading over the summer break.

Feedback welcome here!  


In October 2018, IPAA hosted its national conference Fault Lines for the Future of the Public Sector. The conference examined four fault lines with the potential to dramatically shake the foundations of our professional public sector: hyper-partisanship, automation and AI, the use of consultants, and other challenges impacting on the public sector.

To coincide with the conference, Wiley has made available an Australian Journal of Public Administration (AJPA) themed virtual issue, the fourth in a series to have accompanied national conferences. They have mined their back catalogue for articles that speak to the conference themes, including recent offerings and others dating back to 1966. The articles are grouped under the headings: The Big Picture; the impact of digital disruption, technology and automation; Federalism; Service delivery;  Use of consultants;  and Trust, integrity and corruption.

The AJPA been in continuous publication for 81 years. You can take a step back in time through the journal's history with this article which samples three years in the journal's lifetime - 1937, 1978 and 2018.

The Sam Richardson Award  is given each year by IPAA for best articles in the AJPA. The subjects they cover give a good sense of how IPAA’s professional journal is engaging with some of the big challenges facing public administration. Professor Jenny Stewart and Dr James Warn from the UNSW Canberra School of Business won the 2018 award for their article: Between Two Worlds: Indigenous Leaders Exercising Influence and Work across Boundaries. Based on inā€depth interviews with a cohort of emerging Indigenous leaders in these situations, the authors found that these leaders are producing their own style of leadership, drawing on their Indigenous identity as a resource, while negotiating the policy and other demands of white Australia. The December 2018 issue of AJPA  is a special issue Taking ‘a rightful place in our own country’: Indigenous self-determination and the Australian people: a Symposium. The Symposium was a joint initiative of the Whitlam Institute and Nuru Gili Indigenous Programs, UNSW.

The Sam Richardson Awards are presented by IPAA each year to recognise the contribution made by researchers to the study and practice of public administration in Australia. They are named after Professor Sam Richardson AO CBE, who was a foundational principal of the Canberra College of Advanced Education, now the University of Canberra. A full list of winners of the Sam Richardson Award is available here.

The State of the Service Report 2017–18 (SOSR) was tabled in both houses of Parliament on Monday 26 November 2018. and is structured around the themes of culture, capability and leadership. It is informed by data from the annual Australian Public Service (APS) agency survey and APS employee census, as well as the APS employment database.

The report highlights the changing APS context and the need to adapt to ensure fitness-for-purpose into the future. It echoes the thoughts Mr David Thodey AO, Chair of the Independent Review of the APS has shared that the APS is not broken, but it does need to be ready to respond quickly to government, changing community needs and to take advantage of emerging technologies.

An expanded set of workforce data that complements the report’s findings has been included in its appendices. De-identified, non-sensitive APS employee census data has been made available on with state/territory-specific presentations of key themes and data also on the SOSR webpage.

The November 2018 IPAA ACT Conference included a keynote address from David Thodey. Transcripts of David's speech 'A Vision for Australia's Public Service'  and the ensuing conversation  with Peter Woolcott AO, APS Commissioner and Renée Leon PSM, Secretary of the Department of Human Services focused on what is emerging from the Review. The emerging themes can be grouped into: united in collective endeavour; world-class in policy regulation and delivery; an employer of choice; a trusted and respected partner; and dynamic, digital and adaptive systems and structures. Click on following links for the Canberra Times and the Mandarin's reports on this session.

The Mandarin report on the Conference  contains links to earlier articles on the APS Review, including this report on a  submission  from former APS Commissioner Andrew Podger AO, who writes about a sense of continuity and stability as "critical to the institution that is the public service." IPAA's submission to the review Learning from the Past and Building for the Future draws on the expertise and experience of leading Australian experts on APS review processes.

Renée also spoke about the work of the APS Reform Committee, which is coordinating modernisation projects across six streams and is guided by the Roadmap for Reform announced in the 2018-19 federal budget.

Patrick Dunleavy, Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics (LSE)  and Centenary Professor at the University of Canberra has written a blog post on on the The Policy Space entitled Micro-Institutions in Liberal Democracies: what they are and why they matter. This post draws draws on The UK’s Changing Democracy: The 2018 Democratic Audit, published by LSE Press and which is permanently free and Open Access.

A September 2018 text by Glenn Kefford and others Australian Politics in the Twenty-First Century: old institutions and new challenges considers how Australia's political institutions are holding up in the face of new challenges, dynamics and turubulence that have emerged and intensified in the new millenium. Another recent book Elections Matter edited by Frank Bongiorno, Benjamin T. Jones and John Uhr looks at ten elections that formed Australia.

In November, Professor Gary Banks gave the third Alf Rattigan lecture Whatever happened to evidence-based policy-making? which argues that evidence-based policy making has fallen short of the ideas espoused. The October 2018 report  by Emma Dawson and Abigail Lewis Evidence based policy research project: 20 case studies contains analysis of 20 recent high profile policies (eight federal, and four from each of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland) against Ken Wiltshire's Ten Criteria for a Public Policy Business Case  contained in the 2012 IPAA discussion paper Public Policy Drift. 

In 2017, Australian became only the second advanced democracy to adopt marriage equality through a popular vote. The 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey: One Year On is a blogpost on Pop Politics AUS which discusses research analysing voting patterns in the Survey. This post has been adapted from Ian McAllister and Feodor Snagovsky Explaining Voting in the 2017 Australian Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite in the Australian Journal of Political Science (currently open access). A new book by Shirleene Robinson and Alex Greenwich Yes Yes Yes covers the marriage equality movement's origins through to the unsuccessful High Court challenge, the Survey  and marriage equality becoming law.

Another book that chronicles changing attitudes is Rusted Off: why Australia is fed up by Gabrielle Chan. This book offers personal insights and interviews which critique the mainstream view of rural Australia. It also provides some insight into why country voters are deserting major parties even faster than city residents.

Apolitical have put together a reading list of nine books and reports that looks at how to do government in the future. Some deal directly with how the civil service operates,  others offer lessons from other industries. You can join Apolitical, which is a free international platform for public servants and others to read more on the future of government.

In November 2018, the UNSW Public Service Research Group (PSRG) launched its third issues paper.  In Co-production and innovation - creating better solutions for future public service implementation, Linda Dewey, Deborah Blackman and Helen Dickinson outline three alternative theoretical perspectives of co-production and suggest the way forward for academics and practitioners.Issues Papers provide an account of the state of the art evidence and issues around an important theme for contemporary public services. Other papers from the PSRG can be found here.

Digital transformation of public services remains a high priority for government. The Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation, the Hon Michael Keenan recently launched the Digital Transformation Agency's Strategy and Roadmap at the National Press Club. You can watch his speech on iView and read the strategy documents at this link.

This Australian Policy Online Feature Collection - Public Administration and Governance- features resources about public administration and management, public sector leadership, public value, policy and program evaluation, cross-jurisdictional and cross-sector collaboration, evidence-based policy and more. The collection was initiated by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). Recently added resources include Peter Brent's commentary on the 2018 Victorian elections and the recently updated Guidance on caretaker conventions from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

IPAA QLD, with the Griffith Review and the Policy Innovation Hub have put together a short list of summer readings on politics and policy with a Queensland flavour. Another great list of reading resources is the Grattan Institute's summer reading list for the Prime Minister.  The list contains books that Grattan believes "the Prime Minister - or indeeed any Australian - will find stimulating over the break.They're all good reads that say something interesting about Australia, the world and the future."  Summer Reading List for the Prime Minister 2018 was launched on 4 December 2018.

Some recent books from international thought leaders include The Value of Everything: making and taking in the global economy by Mariana Mazzucato, which looks at what creates wealth, how is it extracted and how is it destroyed. Mariana was in Australia to deliver the 2018 John Menadue Oration on 11 December.  In Identity: Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition Francis Fukayama examines the idea that a  struggle for recognition is a fundamental driver for humanity; while John Mearsheimer argues that America's efforts to remake the world in its own image have backfired in The Great Delusion: liberal dreams and international realities.

The People vs Democracy: why our freedom is in danger and how to save it by Yascha Mounk argues that the rise of populism means that liberalism and democracy are no longer naturally complementary. Sophie Pedder's Revolution Française: Emmanuel Macron and the quest to reinvent a nation gives an account of the impulses and ideas that drove Macron's rise and that may help him re-shape France and Europe. The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis poses the question: what are the consequences if the people given control over government have no idea how it works?


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