15 May 2024

Federal Budget: APS a Budget big winner with 9000 contractors to become public servants

| Chris Johnson
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Australian Government building. Australian Public Service Commission. Bureau of Meteorology.

The Federal Budget details how the government will convert more external contractors into real APS jobs. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Most agencies will see an increase in funding and staffing levels and a reduction in the use of external consultants, contractors and labour hire following the Budget last night.

Overall, the Budget shows another 17,289 public sector jobs, with 12,000+ allocated for this year, and it also ensures ongoing funding for the recent jobs increase at Services Australia.

The government is converting almost 9000 external APS workers into secure, public service employees.

By reducing the external spend and redirecting money into APS jobs, an additional $1 billion will be saved over the forward estimates – adding to the $3 billion delivered in the October 2022-23 budget following Labor’s election win.

The government will also conduct a new audit of employment to track how agencies adhere to demands to bring core public service work back into the public service.

In October last year, the government released new instructions for the APS to limit the use of contractors and consultants.

The APS Strategic Commissioning Framework requires core government work to be done by public service employees.

This work includes policy formulation, drafting Cabinet submissions, and developing legislation and regulations.

READ ALSO Budget delivers promised tax and energy bill relief, plus cheaper medicine

Finance and Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher said all agencies that employ staff under the Public Service Act 1999 are now required to collect data on their use of the external workforce and how it is reducing over time.

This will be detailed in annual reports from this year onwards for accountability and transparency purposes.

“The government has an ambitious agenda for Australia and the effectiveness of the public service is central to successfully implementing the government’s commitments to the Australian people,” she said in the budget papers.

“Instead of paying a premium for outsourced capability, in many cases for work public servants are capable of doing, the government is ensuring that the public service is equipped to deliver essential frontline services, protect Australians and secure our region.

“Additionally, the government is tackling critical policy issues, including easing cost-of-living pressures, building a future made in Australia, promoting a strong care economy, driving the energy transition, and providing solutions that support people to meet their housing needs.”

The Community and Public Sector Union has welcomed the Budget’s staffing moves for the APS.

“This budget is good news for the millions of Australians who rely on public services every day,” CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly said.

“The announcement of more than 17,000 new secure, transparent and accountable public service jobs, including the conversion of almost 9000 labour-hire employees, will go a long way in continuing the work of rebuilding our public services.”

This Budget’s investments in specific APS initiatives include funding for Services Australia to help Australians access critical payments.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs gets help to increase claims processing capabilities, and the Health Department is boosted to facilitate a sustainable ongoing national response to COVID-19, and secure primary healthcare services in rural and remote Australia.

The Department of Social Services gets extra funding to support the operation of the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has money to progress critical employment services reform.

A Remote Jobs and Economic Development Program will be funded through the National Indigenous Australians Agency to create 3000 jobs in remote Australia.

The Australian Taxation Office’s capability to bolster tax compliance will be boosted to protect the nation’s taxation and superannuation systems against fraud.

The Australian Digital Health Agency will get new digital solutions to improve service delivery and increase the growth of My Health Record.

READ ALSO Through all the Budget’s political debate, the public service’s work is on display at its best

“The government has made significant investments in frontline service delivery agencies, such as Services Australia, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the National Disability Insurance Agency and the Australian Taxation Office,” Senator Gallagher said.

“This makes sure there are more essential frontline staff to deliver improved services and support for Australians across the country.

“Further, investments in the Department of Health and Aged Care support the government’s efforts to strengthen Medicare and increase bulk billing rates, and progress critical reforms in aged care to provide quality, safer and more accessible aged care for all Australians who need it.”

The Budget also invests in improved digital solutions for the APS to provide essential services more securely.

Further APS investments from the Budget include:

  • Australian Federal Police, for capabilities such as training, cyber investigations and protective security services, including federal policing at Western Sydney International Airport
  • National Emergency Management Agency to deliver on the government’s crisis management activities, including disaster resilience, preparedness and responding to communities in need
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to support effective delivery of drought and climate resilience outcomes through the Future Drought Fund, and
  • Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to sustain water policy functions and to expand the oversight and independence functions of the Inspector-General of Water Compliance.

Extra essential public service staff will be funded for the Department of Industry, Science and Resources; the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water; Geoscience Australia; DFAT; and Treasury.

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Well after 20 years in the APS I left recently to become a contractor being paid 40% more. I am now working as a IT contractor and am less stressed and have more take home pay as well as more super. Why would I go back to being APS?

Many professionals work themselves into so-called “specialists”, which in many cases are just furphies. For in most cases, in IT, a solid grasp of the basics will cover most areas adequately.

A good professional will value many other things as well as their pay; things like autonomy, job security, flexibility, minimal bureaucracy and above all, a sense of fulfillment, are all what they desire in their work.

The APS should reward the people who stay, not those who just work for higher pay.

Tom Worthington1:43 pm 21 May 24

Computer professionals are in strong demand in the private sector. Will the APS be offering competitive salaries? Or they might have to pay bonuses to keep staff.

@Tom Worthington
The so called ‘computer professionals’, at which this initiative is aimed, are just ‘faux contractors’ filling line roles, which, as Canberran says: “a solid grasp of the basics will cover most areas adequately”.

As I’ve said elesewhere in this thread, if they are that good, why are they not already enjoying the much higher salaries on offer in private enterprise?
Answer: They are not that good, and they want the ‘implied security of a government (extended) contract’ while at the same time skimming the higher wage.

JustSaying – That’s like saying that tradies are all the same, you just need a solid grasp of the basics and will cover most areas adequately(painters, plumbers, carpenters, builders, electricians etc – same thing). Here’s a hint, there are MANY more areas of speciality in IT than there are in the trades. Stating that kind of thing is a perfect indication of people that don’t understand the first thing about the topic they are discussing.

Many of them are already in private enterprise, the majority in fact. I have worked in both and will happily move between them depending on the job and rate offered, as will most contractors/consultants.

There is zero security in government contracts as they are written so we can be gotten rid of at a weeks notice for any reason whatsoever. Your attempted arguments make no sense.

Perhaps you should stop being so precious over your own circumstances, Bob, and look at what this initiative is targetted to do. If you are as good as you say and have such niche skills, then you will continue to be able to pick up contracts to fill a void, as and when needed.

However, despite your assertions, I do know what I am talking about. As a former public servant who moved to ‘short’ (6 to 12 month) contracting in the mid 90s, I have seen both sides of the coin with respect to contractors – and that definitely includes many contractors who are not doing specialist jobs but have had multiple extensions on their contract.

“… government contracts as they are written so we can be gotten rid of at a weeks notice” Perhaps your knowledge of general IT contracts is lacking, as every IT contract I have seen/signed has had an immediate termination clause.

JustSaying – It’s not just my own circumstances, I also know people that work in other areas outside of IT such as legal and facilities. I’m not worried about myself, I’ll be perfectly fine; I just find it hilarious that they think good contractors/consultants will choose to take a massive paycut and join the APS.

“As a former public servant who moved to ‘short’ (6 to 12 month) contracting in the mid 90s”.

You don’t think things may have changed just a bit in the past three decades since you were working in that kind of position?

There are some stipulations that allow for Immediate termination of contracts but you have to do something REALLY stupid for them to apply. Not being good at your job isn’t one of them.

It is already too late as a whole generation of staff who have the skills of the profession, deep corporate knowledge, and above all, a commitment to working to bring the best long-term results are already lost, ever since the Howard years. Many existing contractors will not be the right fit and it’s going to take a long time to get people with the right culture and attitude again.

The public purse has been plundered again and again over these many years. I have seen consultants charge three thousand dollars an hour for a minimum of four hours – and it could be worse. And managers have been having a good time outsourcing all their problems (and accountability) to external providers!

I’m wondering what world these people live in that they believe that the highly skilled and experienced contractors/consultants will take a 50% (or more) pay cut to take up APS positions when there is an option to work elsewhere? They will just end up with people who know they don’t have the capability to get a job elsewhere applying for them.

I am sure they view this as a cost cutting measure, but I have personally witnessed hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money blown because unqualified people badly mismanaged projects. We’ll see how many times this has to happen before they go back to consultants.

“ when when there is an option to work elsewhere“
In some cases they may think it better to keep doing what they are doing rather than stacking shelves.

If you honestly believe that federal government is the only option for highly skilled tech workers, it shows you have little knowledge in the area. It’s a growth area where demand far outstrips supply, hence the high wages.

With the transition to cloud/hybrid/AI this won’t be changing any time soon.

“I’m wondering what world these people live in that they believe that the highly skilled and experienced contractors/consultants will take a 50%”
They won’t have to Bob, because those contractors who are engaged for a speciifc task/project on a fixed term contract, will continue to be sought after.

It’s the “line role fillers”, who get engaged on contract and then get continually extended in exactly the same role, to make the stats (lower public service numbers) look good. These are, and should be, the target of this initiative.

JustSaying – Should be yes but they will likely try to lump us all in together as usual. Lvl1 helpdesk and a security architect with 20+ years of experience or similar positions are basically the same thing right?

The other issue is – if they discover that a contractor is completely useless, they get a DCM (Don’t Come Monday) as there is provision in their contract to do so. If an APS is completely useless, it’s a 6+ month ordeal to try and get rid of them and even then, it’s so much work that most managers aren’t willing to put in the work to achieve it.

Now that they won’t be outsourcing the payroll and HR for these people, they will also need to hire a bunch of additional staff to manage them. It will be interesting to see how this works out but I have a feeling that it will be yet another continuation of the cycle of the expansion and contraction of APS/contractor numbers over the years, same as it’s always been.

“If you honestly believe that federal government is the only option…”
Where other than in your unobservant head did I say that? Did you not notice helpful qualifiers like “some cases” and “may think”? It happens, immediate headline income not being everyone’s sole consideration or in some cases even a real option.

My knowledge of both highly effective people and drop-kicks in both the public and corporate sectors is quite good thank you.

There has always, and will always, be a place for expert skills to fill a void and meet a need. However, if that need is ongoing then it should be filled on a permanent basis. Not everyone is driven purely by money – many people with such expert skills like the idea of permanency and will apply.

byline – “In some cases they may think it better to keep doing what they are doing rather than stacking shelves.”

You’re suggesting that the alternative to working in their current highly paid positions is “stacking shelves”. That is an utterly ridiculous assertion, hence my response and making such comments certainly gives the impression that you have no idea what you are talking about.

If you have to work anyway, you should get paid as much money as possible but hey, if you want to work for less, then more power to you. Have fun with that.

JustSaying – Experience over nearly the last quarter century suggests that is incorrect. Every time government departments attempt to get contractors in as permanent, it always ends with the people with all the corporate knowledge walking out the door, then projects cease to progress or service degrades and then management decides to get contractors/consultants back in to actually get the work done.

If they care about job security, they can always take a permanent position with one of the many companies selling their services into these government departments and get all the benefits of sick leave, annual leave and superannuation etc but still be on double the money. Government departments simply can’t keep the talent they want with the money they are offering.

What a load of hogwash. The reason that corporate knowledge has left the public service over the last 25 years is due to the ongoing push to outsourcing and successive governments falling over themselves to show that they can keep public service numbers down.

Unfortunately, the current corporate knowledge rests with contractors provided by the likes of KPMG, E & Y, PWC, etc. – and we know how well that has gone.

If the public service needs specific and/or unique skills to fill a short term void, then they will continue to use contractors – it’s only logical. This initiative is about stopping ordinary workers ‘screwing the pooch’ by getting paid as contractors for doing what are essentially line roles.

JustSaying – What’s the alternative to contractors? You hire APS, throw tens of thousands of dollars and years into training them, only for them to take that training and leave to get paid vastly more elsewhere. This happens over and over again and why wouldn’t they take far more lucrative offers after they have received all that valuable training? Seriously sucks for the departments investing into them though.

The knowledge is typically in the heads of employees of Microsoft, Cisco, VMWare etc. but even more common than that are contractors hired directly through the recruitment companies more than those consulting houses.

As stated above, you can either: have someone trained and experienced walk in the door ready to do the job but need to pay them more or you can spend years trying to train APS up, at great expense, only to have the good ones leave for better opportunities.

The other drawback is, that a lot of people get into the APS and realise that they simply can’t be fired and can completely slack off and do the absolute bare minimum with zero repercussions. If contractors are bad, you can give them their weeks notice and they are gone.

There is some truth to this, but it’s not across the board. People choose certain roles (whether contract, consulting, part-time or full-time permanent according to what’s best for them at the time. This includes factors such as work conditions, security, work hours and salary with all of these things being more or less important at different times in life, with family situation playing a role.

Not all people want high pay as their first priority. Some want to progress up a hierarchy whereas others are focussed on building superannuation for the future, or building networks of people whether friends or career oriented or interest related. Others want different things. The idea that it’s all about money is true for some, but not for all.

As a former head-hunter / recruiter I know many people who refused much higher paying roles because they loved the workplace they were in and the work content.

You seem to think every contractor is the equivalent of a rocket scientist.

Did you actually read the article – in particular avoiding “paying a premium for outsourced capability, in many cases for work public servants are capable of doing”? There are numerous instances of ‘contractors’ sitting along side public servants and doing the same job …and it’s not only in IT roles. The only reason these ‘contractors’ get a gig is due to them being an admin cost rather than a salary cost …plus it slings some cream to the various recruitment agencies.

As for your furphy about public servants leaving once they’ve been trained? Well the only reason they can do that is due to the inappropriate use of contractors. This initiative is a step in the right direction to stop that.

As I’ve said before, there is definitely a place and need for specialist contractors to fill a void for a specific project or task, but tax payers should not have to pay premium salaries plus a minimum 15 – 20% administrative on cost, for basically line roles and to fudge the ‘public servant numbers’ stats.

psycho – If they weren’t motivated by money, then they were unlikely to be working as contractors in the first place. The people in these positions were the ones that actively chose to forego the job security and other benefits in exchange for the money.

Thinking that they will somehow just change their minds and accept massive pay cuts to become permanent employees rather than just leaving and finding new contracts is completely delusional.

In many places, all of their most senior techs, PM’s, architects and in some cases even the managers are all contractors. If all that corporate knowledge and experience on projects walks out the door, it can be devastating to a workplace.

Standard five year cycle. As usual, I’ll just grab my metaphorical popcorn and enjoy the hilarity.

JustSaying – I notice you ignored most of the factors that I posted around why contractors are viewed as the superior option.

“As for your furphy about public servants leaving once they’ve been trained? Well the only reason they can do that is due to the inappropriate use of contractors”

Furphy? How so? Do you really think their only option is other public service positions?
You think these highly trained and experienced staff won’t just leave and go to a telco, big bank, private enterprise or other service provider? It happens constantly and always has as most of the workforce in this country is not the APS and the alternative options are plentiful.

You seem to be obsessing on the costs and overlooking all the benefits of hiring contractors.

Bob, sorry to near a little poetic licence causes you difficulty. My meaning though is clear. Not every person on a contract (or permanently employed) is so wondrously talented that they have immediately strong alternatives under threat of unemployment. The point has been made by a few here.
A “permanent” position with “one of the many companies selling their services into these government departments“ can prove quite impermanent when said departments reduce their buying.
As for “the shallow end of the talent pool” I might infer your roles were relatively junior, albeit that is where all talent starts work, in the shallow end of responsibility.

byline – “poetic license” is an Interesting attempt to cover for making a completely ludicrous assertion. The only contractor/consultant that doesn’t have a rainy day fund to allow them to take time off between contracts without needing to worry about money is a VERY stupid contractor. I don’t doubt that some of these exist but I certainly don’t know of any.

Agreed, which is why I always advise people to go contractor as I have seen many of these big multinationals make large numbers of employees redundant at next to no notice. If you accept for a fact that there is no real job security anyway, just go wherever will pay you the most money.

You would infer incorrectly. When I started contracting nearly a quarter of a century ago however, that would have been accurate.

I didn’t ignore the reason contractors are viewed as the superior option, in fact you are totally misrepresenting me, as I have consistently acknowledged the benefit of real contractors and particularly their ability to provide niche skills or fill a void.

Absolutely your argument is a furphy … if not why are these ‘faux contractors’ not off raking in the bigger bucks at a “telco, big bank, private enterprise or other service provider”? Answer – because they want the ‘implied security of a government (extended) contract’ while at the same time skimming the higher wage.

And of course I’m “obsessing on the costs”. Why should the tax payer bear the extra burden of, and yet again I quote from the article, “paying a premium for outsourced capability, in many cases for work public servants are capable of doing”? Perhaps you’d care to address that rather than the ‘gloom and doom exodus’ of relatively low skilled ‘contractors’.

While you were trying to avoid the point there Bob, you freely admitted your own arguments against value in permanency, and that there is “permanence” in the embrace of service sellers, are chimaeras.

Given your evident incapacity even to track a thread of argument let alone form one, I’ll stick to my inference thank you. In fairness, I did say “**relatively** junior”, and 25 years of seniority can count for a lot in some places.

Bob, you have a very narrow view of the world, probably just from the IT space in fairly static routine roles.

Many people take on short-term contracts because that suits them better than an ongoing job. Sometimes they take on a contract because there’s an exciting project on offer, or one that they believe in as worthwhile. Personally I only take on short-term contracts to do things that I think are beneficial to the for both me and the organisation. It must be personally satisfying and ethical. It’s not all about money for everyone, even if it is for you.

There are contractors in all fields and many of them are contractors because it gives them the variety, the flexibility and freedom they want, the opportunity to learn something new or live somewhere new. It may give them the chance to go on holidays or overseas when it suits them (for months on end) or to pursue other interests at different times. It gives them the ability to choose whether to take on a new project or not, to choose who they work for and the work content that appeals or that expands their skills into new areas.

JustSaying As I also stated above, MOST of these specialists are in private enterprise. As much as Canberrans live in this weird little bubble where they believe that the public service is more than a small percentage of the total workforce, it is not correct and a distortion caused by the nature of this city. Most contractors will happily move between private and government contracts. I have never met a single contractor that says “I’m a government contractor only”.

You get what you pay for. If you were facing charges and needed a lawyer, would you go for the cheapest, most inexperienced lawyer, just out of university or would you want the guy with 20 years experience that has defended people in court a thousand times? The latter definitely won’t be charging the same rate as the former and certainly won’t be working as a public defender.

You have people running projects with multiple billions of dollars of taxpayer funds; do you want the most experienced, highly qualified people, to ensure that they money isn’t wasted? Guess what, these people wont work for basic APS wages. If they can’t get these rates from government, they will lose them to private enterprise. Government already knows this, it’s not like they are paying them those rates for no reason… but I am sure commenters on here know better right?

As i have said previously, and will continue to say, I have no issue with contractors who have specialist skills and who meet a specific need. My issue, which I have also repeatedly stated, and which you have ignored and never addressed, is with those ‘faux contractors’ who fill line roles – i.e. those at whom this initiative is directed.

“I have never met a single contractor that says “I’m a government contractor only””
No probably not …. but have you met a ‘government contractor’ who has been sitting at the same desk doing the same ‘basic skills’ role for many years? I have and these are the ‘faux contractors’ to whom i refer.

ChrisinTurner2:12 pm 15 May 24

Some highly specialised and experienced contractors cannot fit within the the APS salary structures. How will they be encouraged to join the APS? The result may be a deskilling of very important jobs.

Tom Worthington2:53 pm 15 May 24

If the APS wants to attract talent to computing, and other specialist roles, it is going to have to increase pay rates significantly. If that can’t be done via salaries, then something like the bonuses defence personnel are offered, would be needed.

You mean “9000 contractors will have their pay cut to APS rates”.

So much for cost of living relief.

Just think of the benefit, trimming headline inflation.

@Ken M
No, I think he means that 9,000 contractors will actually be paid APS rates for doing APS work.

So they will be taking a pay cut if they apply for the same job. As I stated.

@Ken M
Which only means they were over paid in the first place.

No, they weren’t. This is simply Labor lying again, and their stooges out defending it. Helping with the cost of living while stealing bread off peoples tables. It’s also making the APS a closed union shop. Pay your dues or no work for you.

Yes, but they’ll have other benefits including more security of tenure.

If they don’t like the pay they can be contractors elsewhere. They’ve been paid more because they were casuals who have no ongoing claim to the job, unless they’re prepared to be ongoing staff paid at the same rate as other ongoing staff.

Ken M why are you commenting on something about which you so obviously know so little?

Practically everyone in Canberra but you knows why there is a difference in direct payments to employees vs contractors, whether in private or public spheres.

psycho – In some cases that is correct but in many they are paid considerably more because they have highly valuable, specialist skills that are not available in the APS and take many years or decades to develop.

It’s the same principle as an MD vs a medical specialist. The specialist requires a lot more training and is remunerated in a way which reflects this.

Well it is good to see the ALP stooges all rush to defend pay cuts.

Ken M why are you commenting on everything about which you so obviously know so little?

Having contracted to government for a substantial portion of my career, I’ll wager I know a hell of a lot more about this subject than some ALP stooge.

@Ken M
Let me guess.

You are one of these ‘contractors’ who will suffer this “stealing bread off peoples tables”? A large number of these so called contractors have sat at the same desk for many years, doing the same job and regularly getting their “contract” extended. Why? Because contractors are an admin cost and the government can say they are keeping public service numbers low.

As a former contractor to several government departments, I saw this happening time and time again. I was recruited for a specific task/project – usually 6 months with the occasional 12 month duration. Contractors are meant to fill a void, not replace line roles to make the stats look good.

As for “… making the APS a closed union shop.”? Bollocks. About one third of public servants belong to the union and I have seen reports that the numbers are diminishing further. While there are private sector areas where, despite it being against the law, union membership is ‘compulsory’, this has never been the case in the public service.

If they have highly valuable specialist skills not available in the APS, then if the APS still wants them, they’ll have to pay to get them. Contractors are free agents and can work wherever they like. They choose the contracts they accept and are not bound to take them.

No, actually, I’m not. I’m retired.

I do however know that you are conveniently ignoring the fact that many of those contractors are there because the APS rates to to the job are a joke, and nobody competent is willing to work for a pittance. Contractors on high rates are the only way to attract decent talent in many cases.

I’m still confused how the ALP hiring more permanent employees is “stealing bread off people’s tables”.

Contractors by definition have no security of tenure. And as others have said, if they are truly providing high value and market sought after skills, they will have no problem finding alternative work.

Since when was it the government’s role to provide security for consultant incomes?

Chewy, if somebody terminated your position then told you to re-apply for the same job at a much lower rate, I doubt you would be happy about it.

Nobody said the government had to provide security for consultants. The point is they are lying again. Spruiking their “cost of living assistance” while trying to slash the pay of 9000 people is plain scummy and deceptive.

Ken M, perhaps there really is some “ALP stooge” somewhere who knows even less than you, so I suggest you go find them so you can feel better about your evident incapacity to form a considered position and argument.

@Ken M
“ Contractors on high rates are the only way to attract decent talent …”
Oh right … like level 1 help desk support staff? Obviously you have no idea about the breadth of roles for which contractors are used. As I said – it was purely to fudge the staff numbers.

@Ken M
“… if somebody terminated your position then told you to re-apply for the same job at a much lower rate”
What don’t you understand about the concept of a ‘fixed term contract’? No contract is being terminated, it is simply being allowed to run its course.

Further, if rather than engaging in histrionics, you read the article, particularly “… Instead of paying a premium for outsourced capability, in many cases for work public servants are capable of doing …”, you’d see the very laudable intent of this initiative is to get back to the actual purpose of using highly paid contractotrs – i.e. to provide a highly skilled service to meet a specific need. Those type of contractors will always be in demand.

What planet are you living on Ken where the APS is a closed shop? IIRC union membership is only around 10% in the APS.

Firstly if it was the “same” role, I’d think it’s pretty weird that they were using a contractor for a role that is seemingly ongoing as it’s extremely inefficient to use contractors for permanent, ongoing work.

Secondly, if I was working as a contractor under specific conditions that traded higher pay for less security, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to whinge about that freely accepted lack of security if the contract role ended.

They aren’t cutting anyone’s pay, they are creating new permanent positions.

As above, if the contractors have skills and market value above what the government is offering, they’ll have no problem finding a job elsewhere.

You’re right, chewy, they will find a job elsewhere, and the APS will as usual, be stuck with the shallow end of the talent pool who can’t cut it in the private sector. Great outcome. Second rate dopes running the countries public sector.

@Ken M
“… APS will as usual, be stuck with the shallow end of the talent pool who can’t cut it in the private sector“
So now that you can’t actually present a cogent argument against the APS not wanting to pay ‘a premium for outsourced capability, in many cases for work public servants are capable of doing’ you go to that old chestnut of the private sector is better than the public sector.
Again you show a complete lack of understanding of the purpose of a contractor as opposed to the need for an ongoing role.

That old chestnut is the truth in many, many cases. Nobody cares if that upsets you. The contract positions were made contract positions because APS rates don’t match market rates. The only people willing to work for substantially below market rate are the shallow end of the talent pool.

@Ken M
“That old chestnut is the truth in many, many cases”
And in many, many cases it is not the truth … ever tried dealing with Optus, Telstra, QANTAS, Medibank, the big banks – just to name a few. Fine examples of the supremacy of the private sector.

“The contract positions were made contract positions because APS rates don’t match market rates”
For starters, there is no such thing as a ‘contract position’ – if it’s a “position” then, it’s an ongoing role and should be filled accordingly. Secondly, these roles are generally filled by contractors to make people like you feel good by thinking there are less public servants.

“The only people willing to work for substantially below market rate are the shallow end of the talent pool.”
You have obviously never worked with contractors in the public service. Many of them, who are doing line roles, are pretty ordinary performers, who have decided to take a risk and forego the benefits of tenure – i.e. leave, super and security, for a higher hourly rate. One of the risks, is that their contract won’t be extended – which is exactly what’s happening.

So yet again, you show a complete lack of understanding of the role of contractors in the work force.

Yeah I have dealt with a couple of those. Never had the multi hour wait times on the phone that people complain about with centrelink.

You can continue to make up all the nonsense you like about there being no such thing as “contract roles”, bjt we all know that’s nonsense. I personally know of several where the APS have had to keep a contractor on for over a decade because nobody would do the job for APS pay.

You’re deluded.

Ken M – I think the disagreement you are having with JustSaying is more around the theoretical function of contractors/consultants vs the real-world implementation.

Yes, the theory is that these contractors should only be used for short term project or surge work and the majority of the work should be done by permanents… this is how it works in theory anyway.

The reality is far different and there are a lot of other factors involved in the preference for these workers over permanents as I outlined in my post at 09:54 this morning in the other thread.

Ken M, If you were a contractor, you didn’t have a job, you had a contract that can be terminated according to the agreement you made as stated in the contract.

If you wanted the job that was being offered instead of the contract, you take it with the salary and conditions. If you want another contract at a certain rate of pay then that is up to you to seek it out wherever it’s available. You have no entitlement to it. You have to find it and win it.

Ken M, ‘The contract positions were made contract positions because APS rates don’t match market rates. The only people willing to work for substantially below market rate are the shallow end of the talent pool.’

The first part of that comment shows that you really don’t understand the public service or the politics. The second part, shows that you’re completely out of date and out of touch with the situation across the entire public service.

@Ken M
“I personally know of several where the APS have had to keep a contractor on for over a decade because nobody would do the job for APS pay”

Really? So the jobs were advertised for permanency and no-one applied? And you say I’m deluded!

Nevertheless, under this initiative, those ‘contractors’ will take the APS role as their contracting well will dry up.

“If you had a contract you didn’t have a job”

Drug decriminalisation has been a disaster for the ACT if that hot take is anything to go by.

Never seen one person so willing to get publicly owned on this site before.

JustSaying – “Nevertheless, under this initiative, those ‘contractors’ will take the APS role as their contracting well will dry up.”

Again, you are assuming that the other 85% of jobs (in private enterprise) don’t exist. As I mentioned above, there are a whole lot of bank/telco/service providers/private industry of all kinds positions out there so trying to force these experienced contractors into accepting public service wages is futile… yet always entertaining when it is attempted.

The truth is that the APS is NOT the only game in town and most of the best people are going to follow the money.

@Bob – No it’s not the only job in town but so many haven’t yet realised that about 50% of people here work for private industry. I don’t think they see it, as they’re not looking. As a result there is little consideration in this town for people who work in different places, different hours, have different work conditions and who need different types of services, especially in public transport.

“The truth is that the APS is NOT the only game in town and most of the best people are going to follow the money.”
As per my previous comment. If the ‘faux contractors’ are so good, why are they not already getting the big bucks on offer from the private sector? And as I answered – because they want the ‘implied security of a government (extended) contract’ while at the same time skimming the higher wage.

JustSaying – The reason why SOME of these contractors are working for government is that the departments have long since discovered that if they want high level, experienced and qualified staff, they have to match what is being paid in private enterprise. As they do match the rates in private enterprise, a percentage of contractors will be working for government, why wouldn’t they if the conditions are the same in either?

Make no mistake however, if they get a better offer to go work for a bank, telco, mining company etc, the departments better be prepared to get out their chequebook and match or they are going to lose out. DO you really believe that they are happy paying these rates? Of course not, they do it because they have to.

Even the rates they are being paid currently pale in comparison to contracting directly to one of the big consulting houses or tech companies. I’ve seen long term contracts with these at $5k a day, per person.

As I said previously, this is the third time we’ve gone through this cycle since I’ve been playing in this space so I’m just here metaphorically eating my popcorn and enjoying the inevitable show.

Are you still banging on in your sterling effort to avoid the point Bob? As another example, some people such as JustSaying describes may prefer not to try to uproot their families in an attempt to find work elsewhere (and their spouse may already be in the APS as well).

You protest too much. It could make me think you are of a type threatened, not junior yet not actually special.

I am reminded of some writers here who declare or strongly imply they are great investors ruined by government regulation and tax, thus demonstrating they are anything but great investors.

Quit while you are behind, Bob. Your repetitions continue to demonstrate your difficulty thinking beyond the simplistic.

And still you avoid addressing the issue to which I refer – ‘faux contractors’. You obviously don’t have an answer so you continue to blither about “high level, experienced and qualified staff” – a group of which I have continually said will be required to meet a ‘niche need’. Again, I’m talking about those referred to in the article as attracting “a premium for outsourced capability, in many cases for work public servants are capable of doing”.

Given you don’t want to, or are incapable of addressing, this charade under the guise of contracting, I am done.

9000 external contractors to PS means all the HR – leave, sick leave, training liability to go with it

9000 contractors will keep the DEI people happy

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