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Managing Consultants

Managing Consultants: A Practical Guide for Busy Public Sector Managers

Paul Malone
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Managing Consultants
    Book Description:

    Despite considerable investment in skills development, managers in public sector organisations still exhibit significant deficiencies in contract and relationship management skills and knowledge. This monograph is a practical, user-friendly guide to the benefits, perils and pitfalls of managing outside consultants. Writing from years of experience in managing consultants in government, Dr Dobes guides on best practice, as well as including advice on what not to do, and how to rectify shortcomings in the process of using consultants effectively.

    eISBN: 978-1-920942-81-6
    Subjects: Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    J. R. Nethercote

    It is a noteworthy indicator of change in a public service that it is now possible for a journalist, with official sanction, to write profiles of departmental secretaries based on interviews. Until the mid-1960s department heads were rarely mentioned in the media. An attempt in the immediate post-Menzies era to profile secretaries ended in grief after only two interviews.

    In the end, the attempt was not entirely futile for, in subsequent years, journalists became adept in covering bureaucracy. In Australia, the Canberra Times led the way with a succession of highly skilled reporters on the public service round. The unlikely...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Paul Malone
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    If you are a student with ambitions to reach the top in the Australian public service and todayʹs department heads are any guide, there is no question about what subject you should be studying – economics. Thirty or more years ago a good general education might have done. Former lawyers, doctors, scientists or even teachers could be found in numbers in chief executive positions in the key portfolio departments. Today they are a rarity.

    It is no surprise to find that the heads of Treasury, or the departments of Finance, or Industry Tourism and Resources are economists. But when one...

  6. The Consummate ʹFixerʹ – Peter Shergold, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
    (pp. 7-10)

    Dr Peter Shergold has not always looked forward to coming into work. For those who know him as the upbeat, bouncy, optimistic head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, this may seem surprising. Nothing seems to get Shergold down now. He thrives on the pressure of work as Australiaʹs most senior public servant. It is no hardship coming in at 8 am and leaving at 7.30 pm five days a week and dropping into the office to clear the desk of all paperwork on Sunday morning. The relentless hard work is overcome by the fact that, ʺitʹs...

  7. From Timber to Tax – Ken Henry, The Treasury
    (pp. 11-20)

    When Ken Henry was 13, his father, a timber worker cutting logs out of the Landsdowne State Forest near Taree, in the mid North Coast of NSW, came home excited and early and bundled his boys into his car. Normally heʹd leave before sun-up and be home after sundown, but this afternoon he took the three brothers down to the sawmill. ʺHe wanted to show us the log heʹd taken out of the forest that dayʺ, Henry says. ʺThe thing was huge. He was a short man. He stood at the base of the log and it just towered over...

  8. The Devilʹs Advocate – Ian Watt, Department of Finance and Administration
    (pp. 21-24)

    The Budget, according to the head of the Department of Finance and Administration, Dr Ian Watt, is the biggest single thing that Government does year in, year out. So it is not the sort of place you want to make a mistake when you are a rising young section head in the Treasury department. And if you make a mistake, the worst time to find it must be around 4 pm on Budget day when the media lock-up is underway and it is only a matter of hours before the Treasurer, Paul Keating, rises to deliver his statement on the...

  9. Starting from Scratch – Patricia Scott, Department of Human Services
    (pp. 25-30)

    Patricia Scott got the good news in mid-October 2004. ʺYouʹve been promoted to department head.ʺ And the bad news a second later. She would be heading a department that didnʹt exist! Scott was one of four women whose promotion was announced on Friday 22 October. The other three moved into well-established positions with the full support of staff and established practices.

    In her new role Scott was called first by her minister. ʺThen I went and checked with Peter (Shergold, the head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet) on the time I was supposed to start. To...

  10. The Reluctant Chief – Ric Smith, Department of Defence
    (pp. 31-36)

    The Defence departmentʹs annual report does not specify who is paid what, but in an appendix it sets out, in $10,000 pay brackets, the total remuneration for all those getting $100,000 or more. The top paid executive receives between $590,000 and $599,999. Another is in the pay bracket $560,000 to $569,999 and the third highest is in the bracket $470,000 to $479,999. These figures are not straight salary, but include the value of other benefits such as the provision of housing to defence personnel.

    This led Ric Smith to quip that the published figure included the ʺaccrued value of the...

  11. The Man with a ʹPromising Pastʹ – Michael LʹEstrange, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
    (pp. 37-44)

    The position of Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is unusual in the bureaucracy in that the occupant is directly answerable to two very senior ministers – the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Trade. The ministers are inevitably Cabinet ministers and with the Coalition in Government, it is frequently the case that one of them is also the Deputy Prime Minister. So it is for Michael LʹEstrange, who must respond to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Leader of the National Party, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile....

  12. Californian Dreamer – Lisa Paul, Department of Education, Science and Training
    (pp. 45-50)

    The biggest privilege in her career, Lisa Paul says, was to be able to lead the Commonwealthʹs domestic response to the Bali bombings in 2002. Overnight she pulled together a large group from her then department, the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS), and other departments. They took on the huge range of issues from the immediate – the way the Government could help victims and their families – through to the long term.

    She says she learnt a lot of lessons from the taskforce experience, including how to bring a very diverse team together to do something quite...

  13. The ʹNewʹ Old Broom – Andrew Metcalfe, Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
    (pp. 51-58)

    Andrew Metcalfe was plucked from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to head the Immigration department last year at the height of its troubles over the wrongful detention, or deportation, of citizens. In PM&C Metcalfe had been responsible for advice on the hot issues of counter-terrorism, security, defence and intelligence and was being tipped for promotion in this area. But the crisis in Immigration changed all that. Metcalfe, who had a long association with Immigration going back to 1981, and had gone to PM&C to get wider experience, became the obvious choice to head the troubled department. Over...

  14. The Company Man – Mark Paterson, Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources
    (pp. 59-68)

    Mark Paterson was an outsider when he was appointed head of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources four years ago. A former head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Paterson had no experience as a senior public servant. His brief stint in the public service in his younger days was in the state service in South Australia and ended in 1981, providing little training for the job of leading a major federal department.

    On his first day in the job, Paterson called his leadership group together and asked them to fill out three pieces of paper. On...

  15. Making the Best of It – Mark Sullivan, Department of Veteransʹ Affairs
    (pp. 69-76)

    ʺI remember the day Peter Shergold [the head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet] rang me,ʺ says Mark Sullivan. ʺHe said, ʹMark, Iʹve got two pieces of news for you.ʹ I said, ʹYep.ʹ He said, ʹOneʹs good, and oneʹs okay.ʹ I said, ʹwell give me the good news first.ʹ ʹWell the Prime Minister wishes you to be a Secretary for another four years.ʹ And I said, ʹwell, thatʹs very good news, Peter. Whatʹs the other news?ʹ ʹWell youʹre going to Veteransʹ Affairs.'ʺ

    Sullivan says there was a pause before Shergold said, ʺWhat do you think about that?ʺ...

  16. Going ʹBushʹ – Joanna Hewitt, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
    (pp. 77-82)

    Times have changed dramatically since the early seventies when Joanna Hewitt was a trainee in the Department of Foreign Affairs. At that time regulations were regulations and far be it for anyone to think that a bit of commonsense should apply. If the overseas determination referred to ʺthe officer and his wifeʺ, how could a married woman – even one recruited as a graduate foreign affairs trainee – be posted overseas? ʺEverything was driven by the Public Service Act,ʺ Hewitt says. ʺTo go out on my first posting I had to wait a whole year longer than the other trainees...

  17. The Peopleʹs Choice – Jeff Harmer, Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
    (pp. 83-90)

    Family and Community Services was the department that appeared to be the loser in the new administrative arrangements announced by the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, following the election in October 2004. Before the election the portfolio covered the major government payments agency, Centrelink, and the department itself had the Child Support Agency as a division. Following the election both these agencies were transferred to the newly created Human Services portfolio and Dr Jeff Harmer was transferred from the Department of Education, Science and Training to head the now smaller Department of Family and Community Services.

    Harmer, as one would expect,...

  18. The Unabashed Rationalist – Peter Boxall, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
    (pp. 91-98)

    The Secretary of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, Peter Boxall, came very close to leaving Australia and settling in the United States. After living in America for 13 years, where he worked for the International Monetary Fund and completed a doctorate at the University of Chicago, Boxall returned to Australia in 1986. ʺIt took me a while to settle back into Australia,ʺ he says. ʺI was single at the time. I found it fairly difficult because Iʹd lived for so long outside and I nearly didnʹt make it. I nearly left and went back to the US.ʺ


  19. Environmental Angler – David Borthwick, Department of Environment and Heritage
    (pp. 99-106)

    It was late at night in the old Parliament House when Treasury official David Borthwick plucked up the courage to intervene in the Expenditure Review Committee deliberations chaired by Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. ʺI could see that they were going to make what I thought was a wrong decision based on incorrect information,ʺ he says. So I decided to speak up just before they took the decision, to explain that there were some factors that they didnʹt know about. As I was making the explanation, I saw Paul Keating [the Treasurer] gripping the edge of the table and his knuckles...

  20. Keeping the Customer Satisfied – Robert Cornall, Attorney-Generalʹs Department
    (pp. 107-112)

    In February 2000, shortly after his appointment as head of the Attorney-Generalʹs Department, Robert Cornall delivered a speech to his senior executive service telling them of his initial thoughts about the department. In his address Cornall, who was an outside appointment, said that when he was interviewed for the position and asked his views about the Attorney-Generalʹs, he replied that it was a prestigious department, held in high regard and it would be an honour to be appointed Secretary. After a month in the job he said his initial expectation had been confirmed. He was impressed by the overall calibre...

  21. The Pragmatist – Mike Taylor, Department of Transport and Regional Services
    (pp. 113-120)

    Mike Taylor, head of the Department of Transport and Regional Services believes the great unsung story in Australia at present is the extraordinary road and rail transport policy changes which are currently taking place. ʺWeʹve started creating a framework where the national AusLink network is now being managed in partnership between the states and the Australian Government, rather than the Australian Government just handing over money, and being unaware of what will, or wonʹt, eventuate,ʺ he says.

    The AusLink partnership will see some $12 billion spent over the next five years and Taylor believes it will deliver the results the...

  22. Pioneering Survivor – Helen Williams, Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
    (pp. 121-128)

    As head of the Public Service Board some twenty-five years ago, Bill Cole told a tale of a senior officer in his former Finance department threatening that a woman would be appointed to the second division ʺover his dead bodyʺ. Cole said he appointed the woman, but the senior officer did not die. The woman in question was Helen Williams, now head of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

    Williams says there was ʺa bit of tensionʺ back in 1979 when she joined the second division in Finance. There had been one woman second division officer in...

  23. Taking the ʹHospital Passʹ – Jane Halton, Department of Health and Ageing
    (pp. 129-136)

    Jane Halton ran into former Prime Minister Bob Hawke at a dinner reception for the Queen in Canberra. ʺWhere did I first meet you?ʺ Hawke asked. ʺDonʹt you remember?ʺ For Halton it was a memorable experience. As a director in the Finance department and eight months pregnant she was summoned to attend an Expenditure Review Committee of the Cabinet. Historically, Finance officers have exposure to Cabinet processes at a more junior level than officers in other departments. When an item they are involved with is listed for consideration, they go and sit next to the Minister for Finance. ʺI think...