NBN Review Finds Duplicated Roles, Poor Management Structure, And A Culture That's Suffering From Too Much Attention

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull / Getty

The Coalition Government’s five-week strategic review of NBN Co has identified a number of organisational failures that could put some of its 3,000-odd jobs at risk.

Insolvency consultancy KordaMentha conducted about 60 interviews of senior managers and other staff for the 134-page report, released today.

It said the national network builder had attracted a “committed, motivated, generally capable group of people who want to do important, meaningful work”, only to be disappointed by a culture that had withered in the public eye.

From the report:

NBN Co staff often speak about ‘living in the political and media fish bowl’ and it is clear that this has adversely impacted the organisation. The culture of the organisation is widely seen to be a problem.


NBN Co has been subject to intense political and media interest since inception. The Independent Assessment commented that this attention has adversely impacted the performance of NBN Co and the efficient deployment of the network.

While the ongoing interest in the project is understandable, NBN Co would benefit from being allowed to focus on its core task away from the political spotlight.

KordaMentha reported that NBN Co’s company values of “being authentic”, “engendering trust” and “integrity” were far removed from reality.

Staff reported receiving inaccurate information, a lack of robust challenge, fear of contradicting senior staff and “mistrust in the motives of some leaders”.

People shirked responsibility and were “reluctant to document decisions for fear of the potential consequences”, according to the report.

KordaMentha flagged potential job cuts at NBN Co, with the organisation carrying an unneccessary level of headcount due to duplicated roles that in some situations, “impeded collaboration, confused roles and reduced efficiency”.

The hiring process lacked rigour and there were no meaningful performance assessments for most staff.

The consultancy said NBN Co’s choice of CEO was of critical importance, with the company suffering from a complex organisation structure with too many layers of management, and staff at all levels of the organisation “seeking leadership and are hopeful that positive change will happen soon”.

The report was submitted to NBN Co on December 2; the company today announced that it had appointed Vodafone boss Bill Morrow as CEO, filling the vacancy left by Mike Quigley.

“The Independent Assessment noted that the Executive Committee has not been seen to operate efficiently and has tended to ‘seek to protect’ perceived areas of responsibility and influence,” according to the report.

“While a number of recent changes are expected to improve the performance of the senior leadership team it was observed that ‘there is still a long way to go to optimise the performance of the organisation’.

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