Public servants can't look away from naughty sites

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Internet misuse complaints up 55 percent.

Australia's public servants are increasingly making "improper" use of internet and email resources on work time, according to a report released Friday, and agencies appear to be getting better at catching them in the act. 

Some 313 investigations into improper use of internet or email were recorded in the Federal Government's Annual State of the Service report for 2009/10, up 55 percent on the prior year.

The report is prepared for Parliament by the Australian Public Service Commissioner each year to detail how public servants helped the Federal Government "meet its policy objectives and achieve its stated outcomes".

The report also found that the actual percentage of proven breaches of policies around the use of internet and email rose from 69 percent to 80 percent.

Reprimand and deductions from salary continued to be the two sanctions most commonly applied to employees, representing 62 percent of all sanctions imposed.

The report [PDF] confirmed that Web 2.0 tools are still regarded with mixed feelings in the Australian public service (APS).

"The APS may not yet be fully capitalising on the benefits of Web 2.0 to rapidly convey information and gain feedback on a range of government initiatives and services," concluded a survey attached within the report.

The employee survey showed that 31 percent of APS staff and 28 percent of service delivery employees have access to social media and networking tools in the workplace.

But where there was access to social media and networking tools in service delivery areas, the tools are being under-utilised for various reasons, including lack of staff awareness or interest, lack of resources and agency policy restrictions.

ICT skills required

Recruiting ITC staff in 09/10 also proved tough.

As at June 30, 2010, the APS had 11,580 APS ICT employees and 2,706 ICT contractors. The APS ICT workforce was most commonly employed at the APS 6 and EL 1 classifications.

"Consistent with last year's findings, the shortage of ICT professionals remains the most pressing challenge," the report stated.

Agency estimates for the 12 months to June 30, 2011 and the three years to June 30, 2013 predicted a need for an additional 1,711 employees and 1,457 employees, respectively.

Demand was highest for staff with skills in development and programming, program-project management, testing, business process analysis/design, and systems analysis/design.

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