Public Service: “a very significant net downsizing”

By 3 December, 2013 15

Government News brings word of this year’s State of the Service, which is shrinking:

In a sombre assessment of the challenge the APS faces in the years ahead, the public sector’s industrial umpire conspicuously avoided putting a total number on how many jobs are predicted to be lost – but said that “it is clear the APS will undergo a very significant net downsizing over the next few years.”

That observation was contained in a section of the report given the Orwellian title of “Rescaling the APS” in which the APSC drew comparisons with the last wave of mass public service sackings that occurred over three years from 1996.

“The APS headcount was reduced by almost 30,000 (20.5 per cent) over this period,” the report states.

While that figure is well-established, the most obvious unknown that both the bureaucracy and the Abbott government now face is what would happen if reductions in staff related to Labor’s efficiency dividend – estimated to cost 14,500 jobs – are maintained at the same time as the Abbott government’s pledge to downsize by 12,000 positions through natural attrition.

Although the superficial mathematical answer to that question is 26,500 jobs lost – or a headcount reduction of 16 per cent based on the 2012 staff number – much less clear is how much money the downsizing would save, or whether parts of government could function effectively.

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15 Responses to Public Service: “a very significant net downsizing”
#1
eyeLikeCarrots3:00 pm, 03 Dec 13

Rescaling…..

It never fails to disgust me .. the weasel language they use to collectivise the wholesale decimation of the faithful public service.

#2
rhino4:05 pm, 03 Dec 13

Well I guess if you could get similar outputs from 16% fewer people, why wouldn’t you? Saves the tax payer money.

#3
Deref4:19 pm, 03 Dec 13

eyeLikeCarrots said :

Rescaling…..

It never fails to disgust me .. the weasel language they use to collectivise the wholesale decimation of the faithful public service.

Newspeak. That’s why our far-right conservative party is called the “Liberal” party, our slightly less far-right opposition is called the “Labor” party, our agrarian socialists (who used to accurately call themselves the “Country Party” are now called the National Party and the Christian fundamentalist party calls itself “Family First”.

War is peace.

At least the Shooters Party is honest.

#4
Grrrr4:45 pm, 03 Dec 13

A number of departments are already bringing in the contractors to do the work that they haven’t been able to hire permanents to do. Then there’s the big payouts for people, a bunch of whom were either leaving anyway or will be back as contractors before too long. It’s swings and roundabouts – we’ve seen it all before.

They account for the total number of staff in different ways, but the real measure can be found in their budgets. Until they make big cuts in dollar spending, it’s business as usual.

#5
gazket4:55 pm, 03 Dec 13

Since the public service get a RDO every fortnight ( but they call it flex) there’s definitely a lot of fat to trim.

#6
rosscoact5:01 pm, 03 Dec 13

rhino said :

Well I guess if you could get similar outputs from 16% fewer people, why wouldn’t you? Saves the tax payer money.

Getting the same results from 16% fewer people won’t save the taxpayer a red cent if they employ contractors or provide less services. All things are not equal

#7
justin heywood7:16 pm, 03 Dec 13

Deref said :

eyeLikeCarrots said :

Rescaling…..

It never fails to disgust me .. the weasel language they use to collectivise the wholesale decimation of the faithful public service.

Newspeak. That’s why our far-right conservative party is called the “Liberal” party, our slightly less far-right opposition is called the “Labor” party, our agrarian socialists (who used to accurately call themselves the “Country Party” are now called the National Party and the Christian fundamentalist party calls itself “Family First”.

War is peace.

At least the Shooters Party is honest.

Damn straight Deref. Strangely you forgot the Greens, wedged far left of Labor and just to the right of Socialist Alternative. They present themselves as the party of the environment, but that’s mostly a sham too – they’re as political as the rest. The ‘Green’ is just a device to attract naive undergrads and ‘Mosman doctor’s wives’.

#8
p18:57 pm, 03 Dec 13

Which departments are allowed to hire contractors? At health they were the first to go – before the election it was announced that no contracts could be started or extended without clearance at dep sec level.

If public servants are evil for having flex arrangement (allowing some people to take an RDO every fortnight) you must really hate tradies on construction sites for their RDOs and long smokos!!

#9
Robertson9:24 am, 04 Dec 13

p1 said :

Which departments are allowed to hire contractors?

Depends who you’re matey with:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/howardera-mandarin-appointed-despite-public-sector-hiring-freeze-20131129-2yfw9.html

“As thousands of Canberra public servants face redundancy, a senior Howard-government era bureaucrat has been plucked from retirement by his old department on a wage equal to $300,000 a year.”

#10
rhino9:47 am, 04 Dec 13

Deref said :

Newspeak. That’s why our far-right conservative party is called the “Liberal” party, our slightly less far-right opposition is called the “Labor” party, our agrarian socialists (who used to accurately call themselves the “Country Party” are now called the National Party and the Christian fundamentalist party calls itself “Family First”.

War is peace.

At least the Shooters Party is honest.

Those names are fairly accurate really. You may be familiar with the term “liberal” how it is used in the USA. Much like many other words, the Americans try to make their own definitions or spelling of things that aren’t consistent with the rest of the world. Liberal means freedom. In this sense it refers to economic freedom and free market approaches, ie right wing. The left wing is generally more for government intervention in the market. I find the American spelling of Labor as a tad offensive to my senses. I do not know why they didn’t use proper English spelling. Although it was apparently to differentiate themselves from the british party of the same name. Surely the “Australian” in “Australian Labour Party” would have done that. But their traditions came from the labour movement, so their name is fairly logical also. And any party with “national” in their name generally is associated with some kind of protectionism a lot of the time, so that one isn’t too inconsistent either.

#11
rhino9:54 am, 04 Dec 13

p1 said :

Which departments are allowed to hire contractors? At health they were the first to go – before the election it was announced that no contracts could be started or extended without clearance at dep sec level.

If public servants are evil for having flex arrangement (allowing some people to take an RDO every fortnight) you must really hate tradies on construction sites for their RDOs and long smokos!!

Yeah from what I hear, the contractors were the first to go because it’s easy to fire them by just not renewing their contracts.

It is possible that in some instances they might get rid of a large bunch of public servants and in some way outsource their function to some other company, which would reduce their numbers but possibly not reduce much of the cost. If this is done and achieves the same output with slightly lower cost using outsourcing then that’s still consistent with what the government is aiming to do. There would certainly be functions where this wouldn’t work out any better/cheaper though. I’m sure for such a large group of organisations, not all of their decisions around this type of thing will be perfect.

And I agree on flex. It’s not a sign that the public servants are inefficient. In fact I suspect that if they didn’t have flex it’s possible that they would be less efficient for the dollar. They might possibly get a larger pay if they removed that benefit.

#12
rhino9:58 am, 04 Dec 13

Robertson said :

p1 said :

Which departments are allowed to hire contractors?

Depends who you’re matey with:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/howardera-mandarin-appointed-despite-public-sector-hiring-freeze-20131129-2yfw9.html

“As thousands of Canberra public servants face redundancy, a senior Howard-government era bureaucrat has been plucked from retirement by his old department on a wage equal to $300,000 a year.”

I don’t think you could judge that as a bad thing. What if this person’s brilliance and expertise allowed the government to save more than 300k? If that was the case then it’d be a wise decision by any measure. It’s all about the cost vs benefit, I think. In this case, we don’t know what the benefit would be but it’s possibly quite high.

#13
Baggy10:05 am, 04 Dec 13

Robertson said :

p1 said :

Which departments are allowed to hire contractors?

Depends who you’re matey with:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/howardera-mandarin-appointed-despite-public-sector-hiring-freeze-20131129-2yfw9.html

“As thousands of Canberra public servants face redundancy, a senior Howard-government era bureaucrat has been plucked from retirement by his old department on a wage equal to $300,000 a year.”

I wondered when I’d see this gem again.

Fundamental flaw in the thought process of the journalist. He commenced work on the day the hiring freeze began. Which means he was selected, or approached, before the freeze began, and all paperwork was signed – wait for it – before the freeze began! But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it…

#14
Robertson10:20 am, 04 Dec 13

Baggy said :

Robertson said :

p1 said :

Which departments are allowed to hire contractors?

Depends who you’re matey with:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/howardera-mandarin-appointed-despite-public-sector-hiring-freeze-20131129-2yfw9.html

“As thousands of Canberra public servants face redundancy, a senior Howard-government era bureaucrat has been plucked from retirement by his old department on a wage equal to $300,000 a year.”

I wondered when I’d see this gem again.

Fundamental flaw in the thought process of the journalist. He commenced work on the day the hiring freeze began. Which means he was selected, or approached, before the freeze began, and all paperwork was signed – wait for it – before the freeze began! But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it…

You might make more sense in the alternate reality where Departments weren’t already culling contractors over the preceding 6 months in the full knowledge that this freeze was coming.

$150/hour for some old codger to chair a few meetings, eh? I’m sure that’s excellent value.

#15
Baggy11:05 am, 04 Dec 13

Robertson said :

Baggy said :

Robertson said :

p1 said :

Which departments are allowed to hire contractors?

Depends who you’re matey with:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/howardera-mandarin-appointed-despite-public-sector-hiring-freeze-20131129-2yfw9.html

“As thousands of Canberra public servants face redundancy, a senior Howard-government era bureaucrat has been plucked from retirement by his old department on a wage equal to $300,000 a year.”

I wondered when I’d see this gem again.

Fundamental flaw in the thought process of the journalist. He commenced work on the day the hiring freeze began. Which means he was selected, or approached, before the freeze began, and all paperwork was signed – wait for it – before the freeze began! But that would ruin the story, wouldn’t it…

You might make more sense in the alternate reality where Departments weren’t already culling contractors over the preceding 6 months in the full knowledge that this freeze was coming.

$150/hour for some old codger to chair a few meetings, eh? I’m sure that’s excellent value.

I didn’t mention value. Nor did I mention the proprietry of the decision. All I drew attention to was the misleading title of the article and the omission of certain facts which would make the entire story a waste of space and a cheap dig at the government. If you want to criticise them, use real ammunition.

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