Planning Functional Review Phase 1: Senior Executive Service and Business Units alignments - Public Service Association

Planning Functional Review Phase 1: Senior Executive Service and Business Units alignments

Senior Department of Planning Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) representatives have provided the PSA and the Planning Directorate with the finalised Senior Executive Service and business unit structures at the All Staff Townhall on Monday 15 April 2024.

The PSA’s feedback on the reform to date

In consultative forums with DPHI Secretary, the PSA sought to emphasise our main concerns that related to:

  1. The severity of the cuts considering the aggressive planning and housing reform election commitments
  2. Planning, Land Use Strategy and Housing & Infrastructure (PLUSHI) being subject to more Senior Executive Service cuts than DAS
  3. The continuity/business risks associated with the loss of so many decision makers (in some cases, non-decision makers) from Planning
  4. The need to provide better rationale for the proposed lifts and shifts of business units away from the Planning Directorate
  5. The risks of talent flight and the need to confirm funding arrangements post 30 June sooner rather than later
  6. Agency indecision/paralysis until the completion of reform despite the Government pushing ahead with such an aggressive remit. Some business units have reported vacancies over 50% of establishment with no decisions on recruitment
  7. Workloads and decision-making consequences for staff in business units where Executives have been deleted.

Communications climate pulse survey

Communication and Engagement has been largely upended by previous administration efforts to deal with the Transport Oriented Development leak in December and the sacking of two senior bureaucrats in January.  DPHI’s response in part, was the climate survey.

Members felt they were being scalded and blamed for decisions made by previous executives and that were not of their making.

DPHI responses to employee feedback

With the exceptional number of responses, there’s no doubt the Planning Directorate staff know their remit and the current deficiencies that exist in any proposed reform. It’s a shame this kind of response wasn’t sought prior to the structures being announced.

However, several DPHI responses to employee feedback were as clear as a mud brick. And in some cases, non-existent.

Planning should provide something that is more concrete, understanding how the Planning Directorate will function after this reform is vitally important.

Members have raised concerns with the union that the reform is one that will require a number of iterations before it will be bedded down which will impact staff forced to undergo uncertainty and change.

Award-based reform: Coming quickly

Much of the members’ concern was on what happens next and to them specifically. While it is still a little early to get good visibility of changes to come, members should be aware this new structure provides a snapshot for the eventual reform of Award-based roles.

And whilst there are commitments to minimise affects to ongoing roles, that commitment is cold comfort for the large number of members on temporary engagements with no decisions on funding arrangements post-30 June, continued funding mismatches and New Policy Proposal (NPP) detail that remains unclear.

What’s to come?

DPHI will seek to progress the reform with the Senior Executive Service (SES) structures and business unit reporting movements have now finalised.

There are a number of NPP applications made to NSW Government and Treasury that total to more than $1 billion.

Consultation on the implementation of this reform doesn’t just stop now that phase 1 is being enacted. Destabilisation through SES churn and major staff movements always means gaps and this is sometimes exacerbated by current personnel secondments/acting appointments and vacancies.

The union has your back.

The union knows that this has the potential to be a difficult time for members as the reform flows through to the operations of your workplace. The union will be with you every step of the way.

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