Steve davies's Blog (380)


With the Canberra GovCamp/Hack/Jam rapidly approaching it is time to change focus. A break from the darker side of life I've been involved in of late.

Time to take a look at the world of . . .…


Added by steve davies on May 28, 2012 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

Whistleblower Protection : Government Response

I have been reading the Government Response to to Whistleblower Protection. It makes interesting reading. The Government has agreed to introduce a Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Bill this year.

The Government has agreed to many of the recommendations and they do indeed provide a starting point for the development of the PID…


Added by steve davies on May 23, 2012 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Corporate Culture Assessment Tool

Oh no, not another survey I hear you saying.

Every time the issue of organisational culture comes up armies of consultants, along with human resource and organisational development practitioners, start mobilising. Surveys abound, all trying to get inside your head and tell you what the corporate culture should be.

And let's not forget the corporate communications people.

It's an old approach; a tried and failed approach. Why?  Because it's an…


Added by steve davies on May 21, 2012 at 3:05pm — No Comments

Taxation Office Engagement Survey FOI Request : The Cone of Silence

In December last year I submitted an FOI request to the Taxation Office concerning their employee engagement survey.

Please note that I submitted this request as I knew the Taxation Office's employee engagement survey closed off in 16 December 2011. Consequently, the timing was opportune.

My hope was that the Taxation Office would be forthcoming and collaborative to set a positive example to other APS agencies. However, despite that hope I also knew it was more…


Added by steve davies on May 17, 2012 at 1:25pm — No Comments

Managerial mobbing and the perversion of human resources

Last week I had lunch with a group of public servants and some of what was said was very disturbing. The topic of conversation centred on their experiences of managerial mobbing.


The dynamic appears to be this:


Employees are labelled 'cases' for human resources staff to deal with.


This labelling can take place for reasons ranging from asking critical questions. For example, questioning processes. Through to seeking to protect themselves from…


Added by steve davies on May 15, 2012 at 8:47am — 4 Comments

Australian Taxation Office - Ugly Managerial Culture Revealed

I am appalled at the level of systematic abuse Serene Teffaha has been subjected to by the Taxation Office. However, I am not surprised that this abuse has occurred. The ugly managerial practices revealed in Serene's post Silence is Consent are a reflection of the mindset and culture of corporate areas within the Taxation Office.

I believe in the value of the public…


Added by steve davies on May 15, 2012 at 8:30am — 3 Comments

Australian Public Service : The perfect storm

Full credit to the ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja and ACT Greens leader Meredith Hunter saying they did not want Canberra to bear the brunt of the government's savings measures. Canberra Times - Leaders unite for budget appeal.

However, these cutbacks are just the beginning. The Australian Public Service is caught…


Added by steve davies on May 11, 2012 at 10:59am — No Comments

Employee Engagement Surveys in the APS : The ATO in focus

I recently received a copy of one of the Taxation Office's engagement survey reports via snail mail from an unknown source. Such surveys are conducted in a variety of Australian Public Service agencies. The purpose of this post is to examine key aspects of the Taxation Office's report and share some observations.


The first matter to consider is the Taxation Office's views on organisational culture and employee engagement. Consider…


Added by steve davies on May 6, 2012 at 3:30pm — 1 Comment

Good News from the Australian Taxation Office

A while ago I submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Taxation Office to obtain information concerning requests that were denied. I did so due to reports that the Taxation Office was spending a considerable amount of money in this area and, as I have said before, they are a lead APS agency.


The more important reason for requesting such information is the fact that information concerning requests denied is another part of the picture concerning the treatment of FOI…


Added by steve davies on April 11, 2012 at 2:21pm — 1 Comment

ATO accused of systemic abuse of power - An abusive sub-culture?

It is fair to say that because of its' function the Taxation Office is going to come in for some unfair criticism. However, it is also true to say that some elements within the Taxation Office are risk averse to the point where they do not tolerate criticism. And let's be scrupulously fair here. The further you go up the hierarchy of any large organisation the more likely it is that internal politics and self preservation will come into play.


In fairness again, it is well…


Added by steve davies on April 10, 2012 at 10:30am — 8 Comments

Reflect - Learn - Act

Despite being an atheist (or maybe because of that), I think the looming Easter break provides an opportunity to reflect on the deeper aspects of life. Especially on those phenomenon and experiences that either divide or connect us.


With that in mind what I want to do in this post is put the current state of affairs within the Australian Public Service on a human scale. The bureaucratic corporate mindset and outdated notions of corporate management that pervade the public…


Added by steve davies on April 5, 2012 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

The Rise of Digital Influence - The Imperative for Public Service Reform

A very interesting "how-to" guide from Brian Solis on the rise of digital influence. While it does focus on the dynamic between business and consumers the thoughts and lessons are relevant to the public service. In particular, the point…


Added by steve davies on March 26, 2012 at 11:00am — No Comments

Malcolm Turnbull on Gov 2.0

Malcolm Turnbull's speech to the Australian Computer Society outlining his Gov 2.0 Vision is well worth a read. As some people have tweeted "Turnbull gets it". But let's not forget the brilliant work of Kate Lundy and Lindsay…


Added by steve davies on March 23, 2012 at 8:22am — 1 Comment

FOI Update 2 : The Taxation Office's views start to emerge

The purpose of this post is to provide a further update my post entitled FOI Update : The Pro Disclosure Culture of the Australian Taxation Office.


In the interest of being open about freedom of information requests it is appropriate to share what appears to be the emerging position of the Taxation Office concerning the request to release the results of…


Added by steve davies on March 22, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

FOI Update : The Pro Disclosure Culture of the Australian Taxation Office

This may be regarded by some as one of my more controversial posts. After a lot of thought and conversation I have decided to go ahead and publish this post. I decided to so as I do not believe it is right for public sector agencies to hide information concerning their organisational health from the public.


I also do not believe it is right for agencies to take an extremely controlling approach to releasing information to their own staff. The level of paranoia emanating from…


Added by steve davies on March 21, 2012 at 7:30am — 1 Comment

Public service innovation - No straight lines

To introduce this post on No straight lines I want to take you on a journey. That's on the basis that to know where we are and where we are heading we actually need to know where we've been. Due to the nature of the work I've been involved in for the past nineteen years I'm well placed to take you on this journey.


For a long time I've expressed the view that the way in which the majority of Australian Public Service agencies manage innovation and change itself is based…


Added by steve davies on March 19, 2012 at 7:30am — No Comments

Public Sector Innovation: The View from Torquay

 Interesting quote from Professor Peter Shergold 

The bad news for public servants is that sometimes the barriers seem overwhelming. I remember the problems all too well. Even those in situational authority find themselves, most days, having to react to large and small political crises, ensuring that the machinery of government keeps running smoothly, and focussed on Parliamentary accountability and the relentless scrutiny of the media. The default position is to avoid…


Added by steve davies on March 15, 2012 at 12:56pm — No Comments

Abusive management and organisational health are 24/7 issues

I have recently been provided with anecdotal information suggesting that the performance development and management processes of some Australian Public Service agencies are being used to manage staff ‘out the door’.


This does not surprise me. After all, agencies are faced with shedding staff, the goal posts on performance and responsibility are being shifted and managers are faced with making ‘tough’ decisions.


What appears to be happening is that the goal…


Added by steve davies on March 15, 2012 at 12:20pm — No Comments

The paranoia that will 'shut' government

The Canberra Times kindly published an article of mine in the Public Sector Informant magazine. The informant itself is not available on line so I've provided it in pdf below.


You sometimes hear people complain about how the press alters the what they say and that the intended meaning gets lost.The editor of the Informant Markus Mannheim was fantastic to deal with and made some tweaks that really added value.…


Added by steve davies on March 7, 2012 at 10:30am — 2 Comments

The Helsinki Group's Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans

Some of my colleagues and friends think I can be a little crazy at times. I freely admit that - it's just me.


Cetaceans are very much part of the social and political landscape in Australia. The slaughter of whales and abuse of dolphins is something the majority of Australians are disgusted with. Consequently, the Helsinki Group's Declaration is something the…


Added by steve davies on March 1, 2012 at 9:07am — No Comments

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