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Setting standards

04 December 2012

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Janine O'Flynn is a Professor at the Crawford School and an adjunct faculty member at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.  Her expertise is in public sector management, particularly in the areas of public sector reform and relationships.

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Public servants could have new professional accreditation standards through a project involving the Crawford School's Professor Janine O'Flynn.

Professor Janine O’Flynn has been invited to be on a steering committee convened by the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) – the professional association for public servants across the country. The steering committee will guide an Australian-first project to ‘develop professional standards for Australian public servants’.

O’Flynn said that the project has potential to revolutionise training and development for the public service.

“It’s important because it offers the opportunity to test the idea that developing professional standards across the public services of Australia might improve how government operates, and therefore deliver value to the public,” she said.

“It also has potentially substantial implications for educational institutions as they could use the standards to drive curriculum changes to meet the needs of the public service.”

The steering committee will operate from January 2013 as part of a 12-month pilot looking at the usefulness of the idea. The two professional standards to be tested during the year are ‘procurement professional’ and ‘policy development professional’.

O’Flynn said that the idea had significant potential to improve management standards in the public service.

“It could lead to a professionalism of management in the service in a way which is quite different to what operates at the moment, but which is something that other countries do in various ways. In Canada, for example, managers are ‘certified’ before they can exercise particular delegations over money and people. That embeds management as a profession to some extent.

“In Australia, such managerial or professional competencies have not been developed and the empirical research tells us that, in some areas, this shows.”

The project is a response to the IPAA paper ‘Excellence through standards: A professional standards of competence framework for Australian public services?’ The Institute hopes that any standards developed will be equally applicable to national, state, territory and local public sector professionals.

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