APS: to cut or not to cut? [With poll]

PantsMan 20 April 2011 39

The next instalment of the debacle known as the Rudd/Gillard/Brown/Wilkie/Oakeshott/Windsor Government will be unveiled on 10 May 2011. It already promises a fair bucket of post-GFC fiscal consolidation. It has already been suggested that there will be job losses across the APS.

As raving leftists, one would ordinarily think Canberrans would generally oppose cuts to the APS (or any fiscal restraint at all, for that matter). However, with rapid population growth, housing affordability and transport issues, others may think this city is bursting at the seams. Old timers tell horror stories of 1996, but the ACT economy just topped the ComSec league table.

With all that in mind:

Should the Commonwealth

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PS: Any tips on what’s getting cut and where would be interesting?


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39 Responses to APS: to cut or not to cut? [With poll]
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jasmine jasmine 11:25 pm 28 Apr 11

Tetranitrate said :

jasmine said :

I pretty much agree, but any attempt to do it runs into the problem that it has to go through and be implemented by the same sort of people that you’re trying to cut.

Agree and therein lies the problem. Politicians need to direct efficiency dividends to programs that are wasteful rather than always leave it up to senior public servants, who usually cut the very services that affect politicians via disgruntled voters. Or if that is problematic, decree that certain % be cut from the SES as part of the budget cuts.

Regarding the toilet map. Would be happy if Google did it but they don’t – that is the point. Sometimes the government steps in where private concerns would not naturally hold an interest in toilet locations.

Thoroughly Smashed Thoroughly Smashed 3:44 pm 23 Apr 11

puggy said :

bitzermaloney said :

Failing that the next step would be to privatise the public service.

You’d see some great efficency dividends acheived then.

That’s pure baloney. Having worked both sides of the fence I can tell you that what mascarades as “efficiency” in the private sector is actually just motion, motion, motion, with not much useful action. Sure, the APS can and should be cut down, but you should really consider how much of the “inefficiencies” are caused by having to baby private sector “stakeholders” through a change process.

Inefficiency has switched from masks to mascara?

bryansworld bryansworld 8:50 am 23 Apr 11

DMO, the Defence Materiel Organisation, has 8,500 staff. So many people to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on bungled procurements. What a disgrace.

BerraBoy68 BerraBoy68 9:58 am 22 Apr 11

Of course, easy savings could be achieved by making APS staff fly overseas in Economy rather than Business Class. There’s an easy saving of several thousand dollars per person per flight. In drafting a business case for a trip to the US and UK a few years back I stated I’d fly economy to reduce cost. I was told by the authorizing officer (SES) to redraft the document as I’d I’d ruin it for everyone of if he let me do this. So, for the sake of a few hours extra comfort and better food for a few individuals, you (my dear taxpayers) pay a millions more per year than you have to.

Dr Strange Dr Strange 9:05 am 22 Apr 11

In my little agency the first efficiency step would be to remove most of the long standing self-serving IT CONTRACTORS not the permanent IT staff. These long-term (5+ years) contractors have had an unhealthy self-serving influence on decisions for years.

EvanJames EvanJames 12:12 pm 21 Apr 11

colourful sydney racing identity said :

I think this refered to as a Pol-deSac – a policy going nowhere – ‘The policy development team is in its eighth month in a pol-de-sac.’

That’s the other thing. Howard declared he was going to divest the APS of policy-making responsibility, and the resultant loss of ability to formulate and present policy is remarkable. Outside bodies now write policy and propose it to the department and the minister. The role of some bodies as policy-making arms has been made official, eg The Lowy Institute makes most of our foreign policy, and some defence policy too, and for defence there’s a number of bodies hard at-it. Some more desirable than others.

The APS now gets to process the policy. Sometimes they get to comment on it, but the attitude is that by the time it gets to the department/s, it’s a done deal.

The recent primary health care and hospital reform policies were written outside the department, by private organisations, one of whom was appointed to run a major part of the policy.

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 12:04 pm 21 Apr 11

EvanJames said :

Some departments in the APS have become so top-heavy but are also decision-free zones. The classification creep has been severe, but all these highly paid ELs and SES don’t actually do anything, they move paper around in circles. Health is an example. Staff movement is constant, everyone seems to be acting up a level, jobs at the APS 4 and 5 level at central agencies are APS 6+ there, and they still can’t keep people.

I’d postulate that DFAT, Finance and Tresury are in good shape. PM&C seem to be still reeling from the crazy stuff they were doing under Rudd and then the massive downgrade in their power and interests under Gillard.

I’d be having a very good look at the mid-levels, and also the blow-out in SES numbers. AS level is now what Sog Cs and Bs used to be. Way, way too many SES which is what is driving the proliferation of EL level people.

I think you raise some good points, particulalry with the Senior Editing Service. I have seen some departments where the person actually doing the work has to get it through up to five levels of editors, each having to make some change to justify their existence.

EvanJames EvanJames 11:48 am 21 Apr 11

Some departments in the APS have become so top-heavy but are also decision-free zones. The classification creep has been severe, but all these highly paid ELs and SES don’t actually do anything, they move paper around in circles. Health is an example. Staff movement is constant, everyone seems to be acting up a level, jobs at the APS 4 and 5 level at central agencies are APS 6+ there, and they still can’t keep people.

I’d postulate that DFAT, Finance and Tresury are in good shape. PM&C seem to be still reeling from the crazy stuff they were doing under Rudd and then the massive downgrade in their power and interests under Gillard.

I’d be having a very good look at the mid-levels, and also the blow-out in SES numbers. AS level is now what Sog Cs and Bs used to be. Way, way too many SES which is what is driving the proliferation of EL level people.

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 10:03 am 21 Apr 11

georgesgenitals said :

deye said :

The other waste of money is the mindset of the politicians going “hey we want to do this and it has to be done now” so everyone races round to do it in a rush, then it either gets put on the back burner or canned. What should be happening is when a decision is made to do something, don’t rush into it, give it a reasonable timeframe, consider how you are going to do it, consider the problems you’ll face and do it properly without wasting tonnes of money in the process.

Nail on the head with this one.

I think this refered to as a Pol-deSac – a policy going nowhere – ‘The policy development team is in its eighth month in a pol-de-sac.’

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 8:02 am 21 Apr 11

deye said :

The other waste of money is the mindset of the politicians going “hey we want to do this and it has to be done now” so everyone races round to do it in a rush, then it either gets put on the back burner or canned. What should be happening is when a decision is made to do something, don’t rush into it, give it a reasonable timeframe, consider how you are going to do it, consider the problems you’ll face and do it properly without wasting tonnes of money in the process.

Nail on the head with this one.

Listers_Cat Listers_Cat 11:07 pm 20 Apr 11

Typical. No option to select “grow the APS”

deye deye 11:04 pm 20 Apr 11

BerraBoy68 said :

A serious recruiting freeze of 2-3 years would go a long way to making any of the required staffing cuts (and I mean a real freeze, not one where the status quo is maintained by allowing Directors etc. the ability to still recruit for priority positions, thereby making every position they advertise a priority position).

The problem with that is that there are positions, particularly technical ones where if the current staff member leaves there will be no-one in the organisation that would have the required skill set to do the job. If that job involves looking after a system or equipment that the department relies on you would be screwed if you weren’t able to advertise for a replacement. Alternatively they would end up getting a contractor in for more money, or outsourcing the system for even more money and worse service.

In my opinion there are a lot of things the government does and promises that it shouldn’t be sticking it’s noses into. Cut back on the nannying and let the public be responsible for themselves and then there would be quite a bit of savings.

The other waste of money is the mindset of the politicians going “hey we want to do this and it has to be done now” so everyone races round to do it in a rush, then it either gets put on the back burner or canned. What should be happening is when a decision is made to do something, don’t rush into it, give it a reasonable timeframe, consider how you are going to do it, consider the problems you’ll face and do it properly without wasting tonnes of money in the process.

Scullin Scullin 10:08 pm 20 Apr 11

“Pretty sure Google Maps could do a better job for free.”

Hey Einstein, where do you think the “magical” Google Maps get their information from????? Google source their information from various sources, particularly government/departmental ones.

sexynotsmart sexynotsmart 8:53 pm 20 Apr 11

TVStar said :

jasmine said :

The Toilet Map is useful if you are incontinent or have a gastro disease like Crohn’s, Colitis, IBS. This map helps those who migh otherwise find travel difficult.

Those sorts of things acutally help people, there is a lot more shite (excuse the pun) that could be cut before health assistance programs.

Pretty sure Google Maps could do a better job for free.

Probably could now, but that didn’t even exist when we first put it together. Must be 10 or 12 years ago now.

BerraBoy68 BerraBoy68 7:31 pm 20 Apr 11

A serious recruiting freeze of 2-3 years would go a long way to making any of the required staffing cuts (and I mean a real freeze, not one where the status quo is maintained by allowing Directors etc. the ability to still recruit for priority positions, thereby making every position they advertise a priority position).

The APS is facing a serious aging workforce problem. They’d easily be able to cut around 40% of staff over this period if they wanted to.

RegGrundies RegGrundies 6:57 pm 20 Apr 11

Abolishing the entire Dept of Climate Change would be a good start

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 5:22 pm 20 Apr 11

TVStar said :

Pretty sure Google Maps could do a better job for free.

…but surprisingly, it isn’t… yet…

When Howard first got in and removed tens of thousands of APS job, a fair few came back as contractors – at least in the Department I worked for. In this way, he was able to claim he cut the workforce (because wage spending went down) , whilst program funding went up… Of course, more than that increase was to pay for all the “new” contractors. Cutting the APS (in this way) is false economy. When I changed to another department a short while later, there was constant uproar from the stakeholders due to the constant changing of staff running the country-wide program, with no consistency of staff and no corporate knowledge being passed on. Anyhow, the bottom dollar always wins out to corporate knowledge…

D2 D2 4:28 pm 20 Apr 11

Impossible to answer. Cut which services? If you talked about sacking the idiots who run Defence Procurement, for example, I’d be all for it. The question needs to be a little more granular.

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 4:18 pm 20 Apr 11

Diggety said :

colourful sydney racing identity said :

http://www.lifeline.org.au

Another pertinent and well argued gem from CSRI.

If you have to be that way, try not trivialise and denegrate the great work that lifeline does please.

I am not denegrating the work that lifeline do – I am merely suggesting that you need to talk to someone.

Tetranitrate Tetranitrate 3:57 pm 20 Apr 11

jasmine said :

The Commonwealth public service is too top heavy. Get rid of the dead weight lingering at the top and ensure there are enough staff at the service end to ensure taxpayers get value for money. Get rid of performance bonuses. Why anyone in the APS should get a bonus for just doing their jobs is beyond me, particularly when changes are made to ensure the manager’s KPI’s are met and they can demonstrate initiative.

I know one manager who received a bonus for cutting staff in his area and it resulted in poor delivery of services, over-stressed staff struggling to meet deadlines and pressure on older staff to retire (despite the drive to maintain older workers). Many of the changes were fluff and nonsense made to increase the profile of his area but did nothing to add to services.

Get rid of efficiency dividends. They only produce inefficiency.

You could cut 50% of staff in the Corporate Services area of most departments who contribute near to nothing to actual delivery. It used to be the HR Manager oversighted all aspects of HR – OH&S, recruitment, personnel management, payroll. Now there is virtually a senior manager for all areas. Waste, waste, waste.

I pretty much agree, but any attempt to do it runs into the problem that it has to go through and be implemented by the same sort of people that you’re trying to cut.

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