Media Releases

Government agency slams Liberals' public service staffing cap

October 25, 2018

New evidence reveals the Liberals’ arbitrary Average Staffing Level (ASL) cap is forcing at least one Government agency to spend 25 per cent more on contractors at the expense of full-time positions.
The Liberals’ arbitrary ASL cap has become counterproductive, leading to a hollowing out of the public service and sparking a blowout in spending on contractors and consultants.
The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has told the APS Review in a recent submission it was funded for an extra 54 staff, but the need to use more expensive contractors due to the ASL cap meant it had to cut 14 of those positions.
CEO Craig Ritchie said:
“The ASL cap is blind to funding levels and operational requirements, forcing the Institute to rely on external contractors to deliver on core functions.” 
(AIATSIS submission to the Independent Review of the APS)
Mr Ritchie said relying needlessly on contractors “creates a number of systematic inefficiencies” and caused a “high turnover and inability to attract and retain skilled staff and create career trajectories, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff”.
The agency’s submission further strengthens the need for Labor’s policy to abolish the ASL cap to allow agencies to set their staffing levels based on operational requirements, but within an overall budget.
It comes after the Department of Home Affairs recently called for more flexibility around staffing levels to help improve service delivery.
Abolishing the cap will help ensure expertise, experience and corporate memory is retained in the public service by encouraging agencies to employ permanent bureaucrats over contractors and consultants.