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Part 2: Staffing of Agencies

A Smart, Agile and Responsive Public Service

Modernising Government

The Australian Government remains focused on public sector staffing reforms to improve public sector productivity and performance.

The Government continues to examine all parts and aspects of the Commonwealth public sector, from the functions of agencies to how they operate and are structured.

Independent Functional and Efficiency Reviews of agencies, and Scoping Studies of government businesses and assets, have identified activities that can be opened to competition to provide better and more affordable services, as well as greater value to taxpayers.

The Government is addressing areas of inefficiency in its operations through targeted efficiency initiatives, with many of these reforms due to deliver increased savings over time. This includes the Shared and Common Services and the Streamlining Grants Programs, which enable efficiencies to be achieved through standardised business processes and systems, ensuring simpler and more consistent administration across government.

The Australian Government is also positioning the Commonwealth public sector to respond to growing public demands, including for more open and collaborative solutions to emerging complex challenges and opportunities.

From 2017‑18, the Government will adjust its approach to efficiency in the public sector by phasing down the efficiency dividend over the forward estimates, and partially re‑investing savings from the efficiency dividend into public sector reforms.

The new efficiency profile will generate savings of approximately $1.924 billion above previous baseline estimates for the Budget out years. From this, $500 million will be re‑invested over the same period into transformational Commonwealth public sector productivity and innovation initiatives.

The public service will implement the Australian Government Public Data Policy Statement and collaborate with the private and research sectors to collect, manage and share data, along with new digital technologies to deliver quality services faster, and at lower cost.

Maintaining affordable staffing levels

In the 2015‑16 Budget, the Government made a commitment to maintain the size of the general government sector (excluding military and reserves) around, or below 2006‑07 levels (167,596). Based on the estimated staffing levels for both 2015‑16 and 2016‑17 the Government is on‑track to deliver on this commitment.

In the 2015‑16 Budget the estimated Average Staffing Level (ASL) in the general government sector (excluding military and reserves) for 2015‑16 was 167,340. The general government sector (excluding military and reserves) is now estimated to be 166,765 in 2015‑16, and 167,155 in 2016‑17. The 2015‑16 result is about 16,000 full time equivalent staff below the peak of 182,505 in 2011‑12.

In 2016‑17 — like in 2015‑16, the actual ASL may be lower than the estimate as a result of Functional and Efficiency Reviews currently underway. A key contributor to controlling growth in public sector staffing levels is the decision to reduce the number of permanent public service positions in the National Disability Insurance Agency from a projected peak of 10,595 in 2018‑19 to a maximum of 3,000 and to use more efficient non‑government models to achieve the same outcomes.

Australian Public Service Commission data (on a headcount basis) shows that:

  • There were 21,927 separations over the period from 1 July 2013 to 1 July 2015, 9,164 of which were redundancies and 12,763 were departures without redundancy;
  • From 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2016, there were a further 6,991 separations, of which 1,912 were redundancies and 5,079 were departures without redundancy; and
  • Since 1 July 2013, over sixty per cent of separations were achieved through natural attrition, which has helped to lessen the number of redundancies required across the public sector. So far the Government has provided $197 million to 38 agencies to assist with redundancies.

Turnover has allowed the Government to recruit the right skills against the highest priorities, allowing overall staffing reductions to be offset by temporary increases in targeted areas to implement policy changes and build infrastructure needed to achieve automation and other longer term efficiencies. Departments with temporary ASL growth in the 2016‑17 Budget include the Department of Employment, to implement the Youth Employment Program and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to support investment in information technology systems.

The Government's ongoing commitment to ensure Australian Public Service staffing remains at a sustainable level is part of the broader effort to modernise public sector efficiency and practices.

Table 2.1: Estimates of total Average Staff Levels in the general government sector
  ASL Excluding military and reserves Military and reserves Total ASL
2006‑07 167,596 71,026 238,622
2007‑08 175,531 72,686 248,217
2008‑09 175,422 75,144 250,566
2009‑10 178,970 79,351 258,321
2010‑11 181,018 80,873 261,891
2011‑12 182,505 79,132 261,637
2012‑13 179,953 76,678 256,631
2013‑14 177,258 76,595 253,853
2014‑15 166,261 76,874 243,135
2015‑16 167,340 (a) 76,842 (a) 244,182 (a)
2016‑17 167,155 78,319 245,474

(a) 2015‑16 Budget Paper No. 4 estimate.

Table 2.2 provides details of ASL at the portfolio and agency level.

Following the issuing of the Administrative Arrangement Orders of 21 September 2015, 30 September 2015 and 18 February 2016, there were a number of machinery of government changes including transfers of function between agencies, movements of agencies between portfolios, mergers of agencies, and the establishment and abolition of agencies. Comparison of ASL at a portfolio and agency level between years should take into consideration that the related ASL would have had a part‑year effect in 2015‑16 and a full‑year effect in 2016‑17.

Table 2.2: Estimates of average staffing level (ASL) of agencies in the Australian general government sector(a)
  Average staffing levels #
Agriculture and Water Resources      
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (b) 4,250 4,517 267
Australian Fisheries Management Authority 175 176 2
Australian Grape and Wine Authority 53 53 0
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority 174 192 18
Cotton Research and Development Corporation 13 14 0
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 14 19 5
Grains Research and Development Corporation 79 79 0
Murray‑Darling Basin Authority 298 316 18
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation 19 19 0
Total 5,075 5,384 309
Attorney‑General's Department (c) 2,034 1,832 ‑202
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (d) 715 805 90
Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity 49 52 3
Australian Crime Commission (e) 559 588 29
Australian Federal Police 6,475 6,275 ‑200
Australian Financial Security Authority 487 487 0
Australian Human Rights Commission 114 111 ‑3
Australian Institute of Criminology (f) 14 0 ‑14
Australian Law Reform Commission 12 13 1
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation 1,740 1,812 72
Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre 281 302 21
CrimTrac Agency 229 229 0
Family Court and Federal Circuit Court (g) 780 0 ‑780
Federal Court of Australia (h) 400 1,101 701
High Court of Australia 73 72 ‑1
National Archives of Australia 395 390 ‑5
Office of Parliamentary Counsel 92 97 5
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner 72 75 3
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions 373 390 17
Total 14,895 14,631 ‑264
Communications and the Arts      
Department of Communications and the Arts (i) 495 552 57
Australia Business Arts Foundation Limited 16 16 0
Australia Council 112 110 ‑1
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (j) 4,275 4,194 ‑81
Australian Communications and Media Authority 420 418 ‑2
Australian Film, Television and Radio School 138 144 6
Australian National Maritime Museum 120 125 5
Bundanon Trust 20 20 1
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (k) 176 164 ‑12
National Gallery of Australia 237 217 ‑20
National Library of Australia (l) 421 393 ‑28
National Museum of Australia 215 226 11
National Portrait Gallery of Australia 51 48 ‑3
Old Parliament House 70 70 0
Screen Australia 100 97 ‑3
Special Broadcasting Service Corporation 1,020 1,020 0
Total 7,885 7,815 ‑71
Department of Defence — Civilian (m) 18,100 17,950 ‑150
Department of Defence — Military (n) 58,021 59,209 1,188
Department of Defence — Reserves (o) 19,360 19,110 ‑250
Department of Veterans' Affairs 1,896 1,838 ‑59
Australian War Memorial 265 278 13
Defence Housing Australia 650 650 0
Total 98,292 99,035 743
Departments of the Parliament      
Department of Parliamentary Services (p) 781 820 39
Department of the House of Representatives 158 158 0
Department of the Senate 155 162 7
Parliamentary Budget Office (q) 42 45 3
Total 1,136 1,185 49
Education and Training      
Department of Education and Training (r) 1,815 2,025 210
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority 78 93 15
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Limited 56 56 0
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (s) 140 121 ‑19
Australian Research Council 128 136 8
Australian Skills Quality Authority 205 197 ‑8
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (t) 60 48 ‑12
Total 2,483 2,676 194
Department of Employment (u) 1,770 1,807 37
Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency 12 12 0
Comcare 626 652 26
Fair Work Commission 344 326 ‑18
Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate 131 155 24
Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman 702 675 ‑27
Safe Work Australia 101 101 0
Workplace Gender Equality Agency 30 30 0
Total 3,716 3,757 41
Department of the Environment (v) 1,828 1,755 ‑72
Australian Renewable Energy Agency 2 2 0
Bureau of Meteorology (w) 1,581 1,602 21
Clean Energy Finance Corporation 65 65 0
Clean Energy Regulator 324 324 0
Climate Change Authority (x) 18 9 ‑9
Director of National Parks 317 321 4
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority 207 210 3
Sydney Harbour Federation Trust 62 62 0
Total 4,403 4,350 ‑54
Department of Finance 1,295 1,323 29
Australian Electoral Commission 837 819 ‑18
Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation 455 476 21
Future Fund Management Agency 120 141 21
Total 2,707 2,759 53
Foreign Affairs and Trade      
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (y) 5,700 5,760 60
Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research 74 74 0
Australian Secret Intelligence Service* * * *
Australian Trade and Investment Commission 1,024 1,020 ‑4
Export Finance and Insurance Corporation — National Interest Account 3 3 0
Tourism Australia 207 207 0
Total 7,008 7,064 56
Department of Health (z) 4,000 4,483 483
Australian Aged Care Quality Agency 243 248 5
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 89 86 ‑3
Australian Digital Health Agency (aa) 0 51 51
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (ab) 300 311 11
Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority 27 28 1
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency 135 131 ‑4
Australian Sports Anti‑Doping Authority 53 50 ‑3
Australian Sports Commission (Australian Institute of Sport) 584 582 ‑2
Australian Sports Foundation Limited 11 11 0
Cancer Australia 62 69 7
Food Standards Australia New Zealand 111 108 ‑3
Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (ac) 59 1 ‑58
National Blood Authority 52 52 0
National Health and Medical Research Council 185 179 ‑6
National Health Funding Body 19 19 0
National Health Performance Authority (ad) 39 0 ‑39
National Mental Health Commission 14 14 0
Professional Services Review 17 18 1
Total 5,999 6,441 442
Immigration and Border Protection      
Department of Immigration and Border Protection (ae) 13,750 13,445 ‑305
Total 13,750 13,445 ‑305
Industry, Innovation and Science      
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (af) 2,580 2,568 ‑12
Australian Institute of Marine Science 208 207 ‑1
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation 1,257 1,257 0
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (ag) 5,056 5,078 21
IP Australia 1,049 1,054 6
Geoscience Australia 584 590 6
National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority 112 135 23
Total 10,846 10,889 43
Infrastructure and Regional Development      
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (ah) 1,135 1,130 ‑5
Australian Maritime Safety Authority 390 384 ‑6
Australian Transport Safety Bureau 105 96 ‑9
Civil Aviation Safety Authority 795 805 10
Infrastructure Australia 16 25 9
National Capital Authority 56 56 0
National Transport Commission 39 39 0
Total 2,536 2,535 ‑1
Prime Minister and Cabinet      
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2,064 2,070 6
Aboriginal Hostels Limited 402 411 10
Anindilyakwa Land Council 29 31 2
Australian National Audit Office 330 337 7
Australian Public Service Commission 213 209 ‑4
Central Land Council 230 230 0
Digital Transformation Office 74 74 0
Indigenous Business Australia 208 219 11
Indigenous Land Corporation 265 265 0
National Australia Day Council Limited 12 12 0
Northern Land Council 239 245 6
Office of National Assessments 128 138 10
Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman 149 149 0
Office of the Inspector‑General of Intelligence and Security 16 17 1
Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor‑General 76 76 0
Outback Stores Pty Ltd 150 158 8
Tiwi Land Council 16 17 1
Torres Strait Regional Authority 150 150 0
Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council 32 32 0
Total 4,783 4,841 58
Social Services      
Department of Social Services (ai) 2,379 2,035 ‑344
Department of Human Services (aj) 30,102 29,292 ‑810
Australian Institute of Family Studies 75 82 7
National Disability Insurance Scheme Launch Transition Agency (ak) 1,103 1,749 646
Total 33,659 33,158 ‑501
Department of the Treasury 810 810 0
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2,871 2,830 ‑41
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 739 739 0
Australian Office of Financial Management 36 40 4
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (al) 602 605 3
Australian Securities and Investments Commission 1,658 1,687 29
Australian Taxation Office 17,781 18,320 539
Commonwealth Grants Commission 29 30 1
Inspector‑General of Taxation 34 35 1
National Competition Council 1 1 0
Office of the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board 7 7 0
Office of the Australian Accounting Standards Board 22 22 0
Productivity Commission 164 167 3
Royal Australian Mint 219 215 ‑4
Total 24,973 25,508 535
Total (for all general government sector agencies) 244,146 245,474 1,327

# Any discrepancies in totals are due to rounding of partial ASL.

* Not disclosed.

(a) This table includes estimates of ASL provided by general government sector agencies. ASL figures reflect the average number of employees receiving salary or wages over the financial year, with adjustments for casual and part‑time staff to show the full‑time equivalent. It also includes uniformed staff and overseas personnel. The ASL figures exclude contractors.

(b) The projected increase relates to 2015‑16 MYEFO measures, the transfer of the water function from the Department of the Environment as part of machinery of government changes, and employee recruitment in 2015‑16.

(c) The projected decrease is due to machinery of government changes, the completion of Defence Abuse Response Taskforce and Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, implementation of savings measures, the implementation of the whole of government shared services and the impact of 2016‑17 Budget measures.

(d) The projected increase is due to the National Disability Insurance Scheme reaching its staffing peak.

(e) The projected increase is due to part‑year effect of transferring Australian Institute of Criminology staff into the Australian Crime Commission in 2015‑16, and the impact of 2016‑17 Budget measures.

(f) All Australian Institute of Criminology staff were transferred to the Australian Crime Commission on 8 October 2015.

(g) As of 1 July 2016, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia will merge with the Federal Court of Australia.

(h) The functions of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia will be transferred to the Federal Court of Australia from 1 July 2016, with a corresponding transfer of staff.

(i) The projected increase reflects machinery of government changes announced in 2015‑16, including gaining Arts, Copyright and Classifications functions from the Attorney‑General's Department and transferring staff to the Department of Industry and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

(j) The projected decrease is a result of the closure of Australian Broadcasting Corporation retail shops.

(k) The projected decrease reflects the implementation of 2015‑16 MYEFO measures.

(l) The National Library of Australia is funded by both appropriations and revenue from external sources. A decline in revenue has resulted in an ASL reduction.

(m) Defence's APS workforce is forecast to reach 18,100 ASL in 2015‑16 as the culmination of a conscious program of workforce reductions, before stabilising at 17,950 in 2016‑17. New APS positions in areas of high priority will be offset by ongoing reductions elsewhere in the APS workforce, including through the reform of service delivery areas of Defence's business, as part of the implementation of the 2015 First Principles Review.

(n) The Australian Defence Force has been below its approved allocations since 2011‑12 due to a combination of factors. Defence has been working to address this through increased recruiting for both Navy and Army. In addition, Army's separation rates have decreased since late 2014‑15, which is helping Army to retain more people and grow the size of the force. As a result, the permanent force strength has been increasing since January 2014 and is gradually closing towards to the workforce strength approved by Government.

Building on this foundation, under the 2016 Defence White Paper the permanent ADF workforce will grow to around 62,400 over the coming decade, beginning in 2016‑17 with some modest growth from 2015‑16 levels.

(o) Figures provided for the Reserve Forces reflect the total number of days of service expected to be rendered by Reservists in each year, rather than an ASL figure, reflecting the widely varying patterns of employment of Reservists, which Defence does not measure in ASL terms.

(p) The projected increase relates to the Australian Parliament House Security Upgrade Budget Measure and the Australian Parliament House Building Maintenance Budget Measure.

(q) The projected increase relates to increase of staffing to build Parliamentary Budget Office's capability to accommodate the anticipated increase in demand for policy costing services in the lead up to the general election.

(r) The projected increase reflects recent machinery of government changes relating to Child Care transferred from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Education and Training and measures announced in the 2016‑17 Budget.

(s) The projected decrease reflects terminating Budget measures.

(t) The projected decrease reflects the implementation of the Budget measure announced at the 2014‑15 Budget.

(u) The projected increase is due to measures announced in the 2016‑17 Budget.

(v) The projected decrease reflects impact of water functions transferred to Agriculture and the Cities and Built Environment function transferred to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This decrease was partly offset by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency transferred to the Department from the Department of Industry and implementation of 2016‑17 Budget measures.

(w) The projected increase reflects the implementation of budget measures and the inclusion of staff related to capital projects that were previously excluded.

(x) The projected decrease reflects Government policy that the Authority be wound down after the current Parliament.

(y) Projected increase due to implementation of 2015‑16 Budget measures.

(z) The projected increase reflects the Health Provider Compliance functions transferred from the Department of Human Services, and the Aged Care functions transferred from the Department of Social Services. 2016‑17 Budget measures will reduce ASL by 151 staff, including the transfer of staff to the Australian Digital Health Agency.

(aa) The new Australian Digital Health Agency is due to commence operations on 1 July 2016 with ASL to be transferred from the Department of Health.

(ab) The projected increase reflects the Government's decision in the 2015‑16 MYEFO to close the National Hospital Pricing Authority (NHPA) on 30 June 2016 and transfer the functions related to Performance and Accountability Framework reporting to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). From 1 July 2016, the remainder of the NHPA staff will be transferred to the AIHW.

(ac) The projected decrease reflects Government's decision to not proceed with the establishment of a Health Productivity and Performance Commission. From 1 July 2016, the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority Board and CEO will remain independent and will be supported in their operations by the Department of Health.

(ad) The projected decrease represents the implementation of the Government's decision to close National Health Performance Agency by 1 July 2016, and to transfer staff and functions to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care by 30 June 2016.

(ae) The projected decrease is due to the implementation of savings measures agreed as part of the 2015‑16 Budget.

(af) The projected decrease reflects the impact of the machinery of government changes announced in September 2015 and decisions of Government.

(ag) The projected increase reflects the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) assuming effective control of National ICT Australia Limited (NICTA) from 28 August 2015. CSIRO is combining the activities previously undertaken by its Digital Productivity business unit with those of NICTA within CSIRO to create a new operating business named Data61.

(ah) The projected decrease is due to functions relating to Northern Australia Policy and Coordination being transferred to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science as part of the machinery of government changes announced in September 2015.

(ai) The projected decrease is mainly due to the full‑year impact of the machinery of government changes, recruitment lag, a smaller graduate intake, and earlier than anticipated results from redundancy and attrition program.

(aj) The projected decrease reflects difficulties associated with recruitment, machinery of government changes and impact of 2016‑17 Budget measure.

(ak) The projected increase is due to the Scheme transitioning from trial to full scheme. This involves the significant ramp up of organisational activities as the number of participants entering the Scheme in each year grows and existing participants continue to be serviced. The transition to full scheme is the basis of Government policy and several years of decisions with the most recent being at 2015‑16 MYEFO.

(al) The projected increase reflects a structural change occurring on 1 July 2016 when the former Private Health Insurance Administration Council responsibilities will be transferred to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.