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The Minister of State Services Tony Ryall today announced a cap on the number of core government administration staff in the Public Service and selected Crown entities - effective immediately.
Capping core government administration and giving priority to frontline services fulfils a pre-election pledge.
The cap will be applied globally - to the total full time equivalent (FTE) staff in core government administration - not to individual organisations.
"The Labour Government let the bureaucracy get out of control. In nine years, the Public Service grew by 50%," Mr Ryall said.
The cap on the size of core government administration has been set at 38,859 full time equivalent (FTE) staff positions. The cap is based on the number of FTE staff in Public Service departments and selected Crown entities plus unfilled vacancies as at 31 December 2008. It is also expected that the numbers of communications and public relations staff will be reduced.
A global cap allows for greater flexibility in rebalancing staff numbers and resources between and within organisations to focus on frontline service delivery across the State Services.
"Our goal is to make more resources available for frontline services, where they matter to all New Zealanders," said Mr Ryall.
"It is also better value for taxpayers' dollars."
"The new Government's cap goes beyond a focus on staff numbers. Departments are looking at smarter ways of delivering results, and ensuring that all expenditure is carefully managed within budgets."
"Every family and every business is making changes because of global economic conditions. The State sector must play its part on behalf of everyday Kiwis to enable the country to get through," Mr Ryall said.
The cap applies to:
"The cap does not include Work & Income and Child, Youth & Family in the Ministry of Social Development because we anticipate their services may be increasingly needed by a growing number of people affected by the recession," said Mr Ryall.
Frontline services charged with ensuring public safety are also excluded from the cap: sections of the Department of Corrections (Community Probation and Psychological Service and Prison Service), and non-Public Service departments such as New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Defence Force.
In order to retain the flexibility to quickly respond to a crisis (e.g. biosecurity) or a significant opportunity to enhance the economy, the cap may be breached on a temporary basis for no more than three months," said Mr Ryall.
"We also expect some seasonal variation around individual departments' totals but this will be within the global cap. For example, over the summer period the Department of Conservation employs a number of additional track maintenance staff," he said.
Responsibility for ensuring that staffing remains within baseline will rest with Public Service chief executives, who are accountable to the State Services Commissioner. Crown Entity Board Chairs are accountable to their responsible Ministers.
Further information is available on the State Services Commission website www.ssc.govt.nz/capping, including the Cabinet paper and Cabinet Minute of Decision.