David McLennan July 13, 2012
Federal Labor says it has made more than $13 billion in cuts to the public service since it came to power in 2007, and is vowing to find even more savings by focusing on individual agencies.
Finance Minister Penny Wong will issue today a ''report card'' compiling previously announced efficiencies and savings, including the $1.5 billion achieved through the boosted efficiency dividend.
''Efficiencies driven by this government have seen savings of over $13 billion achieved through reform to areas including travel, government property management and changing the way we do business,'' she said in the report.
The Department of Finance report said finding more efficiencies was a priority. ''A future focus will be on better understanding our 'end-to-end' processes and how individual agencies perform,'' it said.
''Further opportunities exist to standardise processes across government, innovate jointly and implement the best processes possible for government administration and service delivery.''
Community and Public Sector Union secretary Nadine Flood said the report showed public servants were working harder than ever with less resources. ''Our members support the community's legitimate expectation for an efficient public service, but too many of these savings are cutting jobs and services,'' she said.
''There is nothing wrong with making the public service more efficient, but cutting 4300 jobs, as the government has done this year, does nothing to improve the effectiveness of the public service.
''Blunt cuts like the 4 per cent efficiency dividend don't do that. They simply squeeze jobs and services.''
Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said $13 billion was a “drop in a bucket when you consider the government is now spending $100 billion more per year compared to when it came to office”.
“One has to be very sceptical when this government talks about savings as in many cases they are actually new or increased taxes. I pose this question, if this government are such good savers why are they increasing the Commonwealth debt ceiling from $250 billion to $300 billion, which is without precedent?” he said.
Many of the savings identified in the report are through using whole-of-government procurement to create greater purchasing power. But many of the cuts are yet to take effect; several take into account expected reductions up to 2016 and in once case much longer.
The report identified $2 billion in savings through improving the way information and communication technology is bought and maintained between 2008 and 2016. Of this, $1.8 billion comes from the 2008 Gershon review of IT.
The report said taxpayers had saved $16.3 million through whole-of-government panel arrangements buying computers, $25.4 million in reducing the number of internet gateways, and $50 million in centrally co-ordinating the way mobile phones and internet connections were bought. The government was saving another $400 million by using whole-of-government contracts to buy other equipment.
Travel cuts account for $240 million between 2010 and 2016. ''Further travel savings and administrative efficiencies of up to $7 million per year are anticipated from new arrangements,'' the report said.
''The government has also asked the public service to find more savings through avoiding travel by encouraging greater use of telepresence technology.''
The report said $30 million had been saved by shifting more recruitment advertising to the internet, and $60 million less had been spent on campaign advertising.
The government is also saving money by reducing the amount of space each public servant takes up, from a median occupational density of 20.6 square metres in 2009 to 16 square metres now.