Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Philip Gaetjens (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens' attempt to protect the government from the sports rorts scandal bears all the characteristics of the longtime political staffer he is, not the public servant he is paid to be.

Instead of providing the report he prepared on whether Bridget McKenzie's "administration" of the community sports infrastructure grants program breached the Statement of Ministerial Standards, Gaetjens last week chose to give the Senate committee investigating the scandal a letter explaining how he'd reached his conclusions.

Those conclusions were exactly what the government needed -- that overall the program had not been rorted, but that McKenzie had failed a trivial admin requirement of declaring a small gift, so she had to go. There was no conspiracy here, just a lone gunwoman.