Defence civilian workforce


Budget Review 2011-12 Index

Budget 2011–12: Defence civilian workforce

Marty Harris

On 6 May 2011 the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, declared:

[A]s a result of our Strategic Reform Program, a thousand civilian employees will not be required [in the Department of Defence] as a result of the introduction of greater efficiencies, particularly in the shared services area.[1]

The Minister said that the approximately $300 million in savings (over three years) this would generate would be returned to the Government to contribute to ‘overall Budget requirements and surplus targets’.[2]

Minister Smith stressed that some areas of the Department of Defence would be quarantined from these reductions in staff numbers, including Navy, Navy Sustainment, Capability Development Group, and Joint Operations Command.[3]  In terms of where the planned reductions in civilian staff are to come from, and how they are to be achieved, Defence Minister Smith said:

We currently have a range of, what I'd call, back of house services which we believe can be integrated and shared more effectively and efficiently amongst parts of the Defence organisation. That will bring a large number of the 1000 employees. It won't bring all of them in our current judgement.

We're making it clear that the 1000 civilian employees will be achieved or affected through the shared services efficiencies, through non-replacements, through natural attrition and there may well be a small number of voluntary redundancies.[4]

However, as the table below indicates, the number of civilians at the Department of Defence is anticipated to actually increase in 2011–12 and 2012–13.

Table 1: Anticipated number of civilian employees, Department of Defence, 2010–11 to 2014–15[5]

 

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

2014–15

Civilian workforce

21 331

22 292

22 394

22 344

22 202

Change (year on year)

-

+961

+102

-50

-142

Civilian staffing levels and the Strategic Reform Program (SRP)

The 2010–11 Budget envisaged an increase in civilian employees at the Department of Defence, equating to approximately 2100 extra civilian positions (including contractors) by 2013–14.[6]   Defence’s Portfolio budget statements 2010–11 explained that the increase in civilian staff numbers in Defence resulted from: [7]

[T]he detailed diagnostic program completed as part of the Strategic Reform Program.[8]

The publicly available SRP documentation also refers to the growth in civilian positions at the Department of Defence:

While there will be increases to the APS [Australian Public Service] workforce through civilianisation, contractor conversions and new White Paper initiatives, there will also be reductions in creating a leaner business model and an ongoing improvement dividend.[9]

The Department of Defence’s 2010 booklet on the SRP, The Strategic Reform Program: Making it Happen,  provides figures on the expected staffing levels at Defence as a result of the SRP and the 2009 Defence White Paper. [10]   The civilian staffing figures in the table below have been taken from that document.

Table 2: Expected civilian staff levels in the Department of Defence (including Defence Materiel Organisation): predictions under the Strategic Reform Program

 

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

2014–15

Civilian workforce

21 862

21 811

21 826

21 804

21 755

Change

-

-51

+15

-22

-71

These figures do not match those provided in Defence’s Portfolio budget statements 2011–12 (see table 1).  However, as the Department of Defence explains, staffing numbers are expected to be fluid as needs vary over the course of the Program: ‘as the SRP evolves, these figures are likely to change to reflect the experience of implementation’.[11]

Although it has not been explained in detail why the SRP has now resulted in 1000 fewer future positions, the Defence Minister Smith did tell ABC News 24:

We discovered that on our, if you like, our operating expenses we were being much more successful in - the Strategic Reform Program - than we expected in our early years and so we've been able to reduce the number of civilian employees, and reduce our estimates of cost into the future.[12]

It appears, therefore, that the Defence Minister’s Budget announcement that ‘a thousand civilian employees will not be required’ does not represent an actual reduction in the current number of civilian employees at the Department of Defence.  Instead, it represents a reduction in the number of staff who would have been employed over the next three years.

In fact, Budget Strategy and Outlook: Budget Paper No. 1: 2011–12 estimates that the department/agency that will experience the largest increase in staffing levels across the general government sector in 2011–12 will be the Department of Defence.[13]



[1].          S Smith (Minister for Defence) and J Clare (Minister for Defence Materiel), Press conference, transcript, 6 May 2011, viewed 16 May 2011, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/media/pressrel/752650/
upload_binary/752650.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22media/pressrel/752650%22

[2].          Ibid.

[3].          Ibid.

[4].          Ibid.

[5].          Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2011–12: budget related paper no. 1.5A: Defence Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2011, p. 39, viewed 16 May 2011,
http://www.defence.gov.au/budget/11-12/pbs/2011-2012_Defence_PBS_03_department.pdf

[6].          Calculated by adding the Australian Public Service and contractor figures given for the Department of Defence and DMO in: Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2010–11: budget related paper no. 1.5A & 1.5C: Defence Portfolio, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2010, pp. 30 &, 149, viewed 16 May 2011,
http://www.defence.gov.au/budget/10-11/pbs/2010-2011_Defence_PBS_03_department.pdf

[7].          Australia, Parliamentary Library, Budget review 2010–11, Research paper, no. 33, 2009–10, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2010, pp. 38–42, viewed 16 May 2011, http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/RP/2009-10/10rp17.pdf

[8].          Portfolio budget statements 2010–11, Defence Portfolio, op. cit., pp. 30 & 31.

[9].          Department of Defence, Strategic Reform Program: delivering Force 2030, Department of Defence, Canberra, 2009, p. 20, viewed 16 May 2011, http://www.defence.gov.au/publications/reformbooklet.pdf

[10].        Department of Defence, Strategic Reform Program: making it happen, Department of Defence, Canberra, 2010, p. 18, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.defence.gov.au/srp/docs/srp.pdf; Department of Defence, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, Department of Defence, Canberra, 2009, viewed 16 May 2011,
http://www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper/docs/defence_white_paper_2009.pdf

[11].        Department of Defence, Strategic Reform Program: making it happen, op. cit., p. 29.

[12].        S Smith (Minister for Defence), ‘Interview with Lyndal Curtis, ABC 24’, transcript, 12 May 2011, viewed 16 May 2011, http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/SmithTranscripttpl.cfm?CurrentId=11798

[13].        Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2011–12, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2011, pp. 6-69–6-73, viewed 17 May 2011,
http://cache.treasury.gov.au/budget/2011-12/content/download/bp1.pdf

 


Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print
Back to top