The (silent) message from the bureaucracy to Tony Abbott is clear: we think we’re doing a pretty good job. Now there’s some data to prove it.
As the Centre for Policy Development’s Christopher Stone points out in Crikey, measuring the effectiveness of a public service workforce is a very tricky task. But the comparisons we can make — the World Bank aggregates a number of indicators — show Australia is the ninth most efficient government in the OECD. Not a bad result, when you look at all the nations behind us. What’s more, we pay less for the privilege — our tax rates are remarkably low compared to those of most other nations in the survey.
The public service can always be more efficient, and every new government comes to power convinced it can do better with less. But as Stone notes, nowhere in the terms of Abbott’s Commission of Audit examining government bureaucracy is an attempt to measure just how efficient parts of the public sector actually are.
The government might be surprised by the result.