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Commentary: The rise and fall of the career public service
journal contributionposted on 2019-04-09, 00:00 authored by Linda ColleyLinda Colley
It is easy to criticise the traditional model of public service employment. However its distinctiveness met the particular needs of a political environment and Westminster conventions. It was a bureaucratic model of employment aligned to the bureaucratic form of public administration, based on strong conventions of merit, tenure, political neutrality and a unified service, administered by an independent central authority. This model endured for more than a century. As public administration was transformed into public sector management, public sector employment was varied in pursuit of efficiency and responsiveness, and became an unstable mixture of traditional and new practices. Institutional changes have brought accompanying problems of duplication, lack of strategic direction or monitoring, and decreasing independence from political influences. The current public sector is beset with recruitment difficulties, high turnover in some fields, increasing use of insecure forms of employment an ageing workforce, and lower morale than many private sector counterparts.