Australian Public Service


Budget Review 2011-12 Index

Budget 2011–12: Australian Public Service

Dr Nicholas Horne

Background

Australian Public Service staffing

The 2011–12 Budget gives an estimate of 262 995 average staffing level (ASL) for agencies in the general government sector for 2011–12 and a revised estimate of 261 891 ASL for 2010–11.[1] ASL is not a headcount but rather a figure showing full-time equivalent staffing levels.

In March and April 2011 some staffing reductions within the Australian Public Service were reported as having taken place.[2] In the lead-up to the Budget the Government announced that forecast Defence civilian staffing growth of 1 655 over 2010–14 would be reduced by 1 000 positions through ‘natural attrition, not hiring new staff and, if required, some limited voluntary redundancies’.[3] The Government also stated that it did not ‘necessarily expect any forced job losses in the public sector’ resulting from Budget measures.[4]

Agency efficiency and financial sustainability

In April 2011 the Finance Minister announced that the efficiency dividend, which is currently applied at 1.25 per cent per annum, will rise to a rate of 1.5 per cent per annum for the 2011–12 and 2012–13 financial years before returning to 1.25 per cent.[5] The Minister expressed the Government’s expectation that ‘agencies will be able to meet the temporary increase in the efficiency dividend without resorting to forced or compulsory redundancies’.[6]

Also in April 2011 the Government released a review report on the efficiency dividend and on promoting efficiency within government. The review proposed that the efficiency dividend should be retained in the short term, but also that it should be applied at the portfolio level commencing in 2011–12 ‘to allow more flexibility to re-allocate its impacts at agency level’.[7] The review also proposed that ‘consideration be given to improving the public presentation of the [e]fficiency [d]ividend and its role in the current budget framework’.[8] The Government has accepted the recommendation to apply the efficiency dividend at portfolio level.[9]

In April 2011 the Australian National Audit Office indicated that 20 agencies had reported ‘financial sustainability issues’ for the 2009–10 financial year including ‘difficulties encountered in absorbing the costs of new budget initiatives for which departmental funding had not been provided’ and ‘difficulties in achieving savings targets’.[10]

2011–12 Budget measures

Australian Public Service staffing

As noted above, the Budget estimates a total ASL of 262 995 for agencies for 2011–12. This represents an overall estimated increase of 1 104 ASL on 2010–11 levels (261 891 ASL). For 2011–12 the Budget also estimates:

  • total ASL reductions for agencies of 1 726 ASL, and
  • total ASL gains for agencies of 2 830 ASL.

The largest estimated ASL reductions are for Centrelink (–1 016 ASL) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (–270 ASL). The largest estimated ASL gains are for Department of Defence/Defence Materiel Organisation civilian staff (+961 ASL), Department of Defence reserve staff (+500 ASL), and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (+285 ASL). Estimated ASL changes in 2011–12 for each portfolio and for selected agencies are set out in Table 1 below.

Efficiencies and savings

The Budget estimates that the increase in the efficiency dividend rate will return $126 million to the budget in 2011–12 with a total of $1.1 billion being returned to the budget over the four years to 2014–15.[11] From 2011–12 the dividend will also be applied at a portfolio level which will enable ‘portfolio Ministers to reallocate the application of the efficiency dividend between entities, particularly small agencies, within their portfolio’.[12] The Budget further states that the efficiency dividend rate will drop to 1 per cent per annum in 2015–16.[13]

The Budget also identifies various other savings measures across and within the portfolios including:

  • approximately $6 million per annum arising from the implementation of coordinated procurement arrangements for stationery and office supplies commencing in 2011–12
  • $1.185 billion over four years in the Defence portfolio arising from ‘efficiencies in corporate and support functions’
  • $53.5 million over four years in the Health and Ageing portfolio arising from administrative efficiencies
  • $510.2 million over four years arising from measures relating to the integration of Department of Human Services, Medicare Australia, Centrelink and Child Support Agency information technology functions and services
  • $32.8 million over four years in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry arising from ‘rationalisation of corporate functions’
  • $12.1 million over four years in the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) arising from efficiencies
  • $167.8 million over four years in the Department of Human Services and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations arising from ‘efficiencies in employment services arrangements’, and
  • $205.2 million over four years in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship arising from grant administration efficiencies and funding reductions.[14]

The Budget continues the Government’s policy of limiting real growth in government expenditure to 2 per cent per annum until a budget surplus of at least 1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product is achieved.

Agency additional funding

The Budget provides additional funding to support the operations of a number of existing agencies. Examples include:

  • $6.1 million over four years for the High Court of Australia ‘to assist the High Court in managing unavoidable increases in costs primarily relating to the High Court’s accommodation’
  • $10 million in 2011–12 for the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC); a ‘financial review’ of the AEC will be conducted before the 2012–13 Budget
  • $28.8 million in 2011–12 for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC); $18.8 million of the funding will come from interest earned by the government on unclaimed moneys. A ‘financial review’ of ASIC will be conducted before the 2012–13 Budget, and
  • $30 million over four years for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ‘to improve the collection and analysis of macro-economic statistics’ by the ABS.[15]

Table 1: estimated portfolio and agency ASL changes 2011–12

The following table, extracted from Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2011–12, sets out the estimated ASL changes (reductions or gains) in 2011–12 for each portfolio and for selected agencies. As the table indicates, ASL reductions and gains vary considerably among agencies and portfolios.

The Budget indicates that some ASL changes, for example those for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and the Department of Health and Ageing, are related to machinery of government changes such as transfers of responsibilities or functions.

While the estimated ASL changes in the Budget papers draw on figures provided by agencies, it should be noted that they are estimates only and that agencies determine their own staffing levels subject to requirements and budget.

Table 1: Estimated portfolio and agency ASL changes 2011–12

Portfolio / agency

ASL reductions

ASL gains

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolio

 

+51

—Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

 

+46

Attorney-General’s portfolio

-147

 

—Attorney-General’s Department

-39

 

—Australian Crime Commission

-23

 

—Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

-90

 

—Australian Federal Police

-17

 

—Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

 

+45

—Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)

-22

 

—Family Court of Australia

-25

 

—Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia

 

+69

—Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

-25

 

Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy portfolio

 

+103

—Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

 

+39

—Australian Broadcasting Corporation

 

+30

—Australian Communications and Media Authority

 

+28

—Special Broadcasting Service Corporation

 

+6

Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Portfolio

-25

 

—Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency

-49

 

Defence portfolio

 

+1 497

—Department of Defence–civilian (including Defence Materiel Organisation)

 

+961

—Department of Defence–military

 

+30

—Department of Defence–reserves

 

+500

—Department of Veterans’ Affairs

-21

 

—Australian War Memorial

 

+20

—Defence Housing Australia

 

+7

Departments of the Parliament portfolio

 

+2

Department of Parliamentary Services

-6

 

Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio

-125

 

—Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

-270

 

—Comcare

 

+5

—Fair Work Australia

 

+3

—Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman

-13

 

Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio

 

+144

—Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

 

+25

—Aboriginal Hostels Limited

 

+30

—Northern Land Council

 

+20

Finance and Deregulation portfolio

-68

 

—Department of Finance and Deregulation

 

+36

—Australian Electoral Commission

-39

 

—ComSuper

-80

 

Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio

 

+38

—Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

 

+11

—AusAID

 

+55

—Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)

-30

 

Health and Ageing portfolio

 

+23

—Department of Health and Ageing

-85

 

—Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

-35

 

Human Services portfolio

-1 256

 

—Department of Human Services (DHS)

-138

 

—Centrelink (will become part of DHS in 2011–12)

-1 016

 

—Medicare Australia (will become part of DHS in 2011–12)

-102

 

Immigration and Citizenship portfolio

 

+290

—Department of Immigration and Citizenship

 

+285

—Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal

 

+5

Infrastructure and Transport portfolio

 

+140

—Department of Infrastructure and Transport

 

+18

—Australian Maritime Safety Authority

 

+7

—Civil Aviation Safety Authority

 

+64

Innovation, Industry, Science and Research portfolio

 

+98

—Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

 

+35

—Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

 

+55

—Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

No change

No change

—IP Australia

 

+26

Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio

 

+317

—Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

 

+200

—Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government

 

+94

—Australian National Audit Office

-1

 

—Australian Public Service Commission

 

+31

—Australian Sports Commission

No change

No change

—National Archives of Australia

 

+11

—National Library of Australia

-12

 

—National Museum of Australia

-8

 

Resources, Energy and Tourism portfolio

 

+57

—Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism

 

+52

—Geoscience Australia

-12

 

Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities portfolio

-105

 

—Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

-97

 

—Bureau of Meteorology

-11

 

Treasury portfolio

 

+70

—Department of the Treasury

-50

 

—Australian Bureau of Statistics

 

+200

—Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

 

+34

—Australian Prudential Regulation Authority

-12

 

—Australian Securities and Investments Commission

-155

 

—Australian Taxation Office

 

+55

—Productivity Commission

-11

 

Source: budget paper No. 1, pp. 6–69—6–73.



[1].          Budget figures have been taken from the following document unless otherwise sourced: Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2011–12, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2011, pp. 1–10, 3–4, 6–51, 6–69—6–73, viewed 11 May 2011,
http://cache.treasury.gov.au/budget/2011-12/content/download/bp1.pdf

[2].          S Maher, ‘A thousand cuts ahead in federal public service jobs’, The Australian, 31 March 2011; A Hayward, ‘Strike threat on cuts’, Herald Sun, 1 April 2011; C Johnson, ‘PS job fears as PM talks up ‘pain’’, Canberra Times, 1 April 2011.

[3].          S Smith (Minister for Defence) and J Clare (Minister for Defence Materiel), Strategic reform program, media release, 6 May 2011, viewed 12 May 2011,
http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/Smithtpl.cfm?CurrentId=11766

[4].       H Riminton, ‘Interview with Treasurer Wayne Swan’, Network Ten Meet the Press, transcript, Network Ten, 1 May 2011, p. 2, viewed 12 May 2011, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/
display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F736157%22

[5].          P Wong (Minister for Finance and Deregulation), Driving efficiencies in government, media release, 21 April 2011, viewed 11 May 2011, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/
display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F738113%22

[6].          Ibid.

[7].          Australian Government, Report of the review of the measures of agency efficiency, Australian Government, Canberra, March 2011, p. xii, viewed 11 May 2011,
http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/measures_of_agency_efficiency/
docs/measures_of_agency_efficiency.pdf

[8].          Ibid.

[9].          P Wong (Minister for Finance and Deregulation), Driving efficiencies in government, op. cit. In December 2008 the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit completed an inquiry into the effect of the efficiency dividend on small agencies. The Committee’s report and the government response to the Committee’s recommendations are available on the Committee website: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jcpaa/reports.htm, viewed 17 May 2011

[10].        Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), Management of the certificate of compliance Process in FMA agencies, ANAO, Canberra, April 2011, p. 79, viewed 11 May 2011,
http://www.anao.gov.au/~/media/Audit%20Report%2038.pdf

[11].        Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2011–12, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2011, viewed 12 May 2011, p. 125,
http://cache.treasury.gov.au/budget/2011-12/content/download/bp2.pdf

[12].        Ibid.

[13].        Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2011–12, op. cit., p. 125.

[14].        Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2011–12, op. cit., pp. 86, 95, 125, 127, 158, 218, 252, 255, 258.

[15].        Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2011–12, op. cit., pp. 102, 199, 318, 321.


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