Public awareness of the APS code of conduct shot through the roof this year, thanks to the robodebt royal commission and the inquiry into former Home Affairs boss Mike Pezzullo. The code keeps federal public servants honest, demands they act with integrity - and lawfully - and bars them from "improperly" using information, among other conditions. The number of public servants investigated over suspected breaches of the APS golden rule(s) fell slightly in 2023, data reported in the State of the Service Report, released on Wednesday, showed. A total of 555 employees were the subject of investigations finalised last financial year, a slight drop from the 604 scrutinised the year prior. Parts of the code are actually quite broad - in fact, most of the people investigated this year (447), were scrutinised for not behaving in ways that upheld the APS values and APS employment principles, and the integrity and good reputation of the public service. Of those, 389 were found to have breached it. Some are more specific, such as a requirement to maintain confidentiality about dealings the employee has with any minister or minister's member of staff. Just two people were probed for that, but cleared in the end. Meanwhile, there'll be no getting drunk at that international conference, with a requirement public servants behave in a way that upholds the good reputation of Australia while on overseas duty. Two people were found to have breached that requirement. Using insider information or your duties, status, power, or authority is also a big no-no: 35 people were found to have breached this part of the code. It's worth noting not every public servant found in breach of the code is in the same category as those texting political powerbrokers - most were just reprimanded for their conduct (199). A fair chunk of them also faced reductions to their salaries (102) of fines (92). Fifty-two people were fired, though, while 10 had their duties reassigned and a further 10 were bumped down in rank. Agencies were instructed to publish their census results this year, in the name of transparency. But a few got out of it, with special permission from the Australian Public Service Commission. The Office of National Intelligence, the Office of the Special Investigator and the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity don't need to publish the action plans they have formulated responding to results after they sought exemptions. Public Eye wasn't that interested in seeing said action plans before, but now we are. It's probably not quite as questionable as the time ONI claimed it couldn't disclose how much it spends on paper "for reasons of national security" (the age-old excuse). Interestingly, seven agencies redacted information from their census reports "to preserve privacy". The list included: the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Australian Office of Financial Management, the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, the Professional Services Review, Old Parliament House and the Torres Strait Regional Authority. With platforms like ChatGPT pretty much capable of replacing us mere human workers, the APS has realised it needs to understand how to harness this emerging technology - and fast. A recent tender from the Digital Transformation Agency is inviting proposals to help the Australian government understand how to "develop a "whole-of-government approach to adopting and integrating generative AI solutions". It says the APS wants to understand how to "harness the opportunities of AI technology in a safe and responsible manner that continues to uphold public trust", and gives examples of using AI for concierge services, to help process large numbers of submissions in consultation call-outs, and streamlining approval processes. The APS must feel like it's fallen a little behind on this issue because submissions close on December 6, less than a month after the tender was first published on November 9. The Community and Public Sector Union and Katy Gallagher sure are relieved pay talks are done and dusted. Both parties were getting a bit antsy as the stalled negotiations veered too close to the Christmas period, when things grind to a halt in the public service. So the union was happy to recommend an adjusted offer from the Public Service Commission to members, which means public servants receive cash sooner, while the offer remains 11.2 per cent over three years. In a survey of 16,467 members, returned on Thursday, 67.5 per cent said they supported the third offer. It wraps up service-wide negotiations nicely for the union and government, though the talks were actually already over, after the government forced them to a close. The union had the option of further strikes and campaigning against enterprise agreements, but asking staff to delay their pay rises in this economy was never really a path for the CPSU. The rebel group which has been pushing national secretary Melissa Donnelly to be more aggressive in pay talks, has once again hit out the offer. Members United, which is challenging executive committee seats in the ongoing union election, pointed to the 32.5 per cent of members who weren't so happy. "This poll shows that a substantial base of CPSU members is unhappy with this deal despite the incumbent leadership recommending it," the group's candidate for national president, Adam Mayers, said. "The Members United team see that the 67.5 per cent of members who responded to the poll have voted this deal up in the face of a cost-of-living crisis and are understandably desperate for any form of relief," Mr Mayers said. "But if the CPSU continue to praise Labor for giving us crumbs, as the current executive has, then that's all we'll get." The Australian Antarctic Division is "in chaos", Tasmanian senator Tammy Tyrrell declared last week in the Senate. A budget reduction of $25 million this financial year really squeezed the AAD, correspondence from division head Emma Campbell, sent to staff earlier this year, revealed. The government said the cash problem was largely due to funding for Australia's Antarctic icebreaker, RSV Nuyina, ending. But the Coalition and the Greens weren't satisfied with the explanation and sent the issue to a Senate committee. That committee has since heard from union members that funding issues were an especially "bitter pill" against the backdrop of a poor culture. The probe will continue into next year. Meanwhile, Tasmanian senators have seized on the issue. "Any funding shortfalls will mean less jobs for Tasmanians, less scientists coming to Tassie for our research programs and a loss in our international standing as a leader in this field," Senator Tyrell said last week. A spokesperson for the climate change department in July told The Canberra Times there would be no (APS) job losses at the division, which was working to develop a positive culture.