26 September 2023

External workers audit finds 37% difference

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An employment audit of the Australian Public Service (APS) has uncovered that the scale of external workers contracted at the APS cost roughly 25 per cent of many Departments’ annual expenses.

Releasing The Australian Government’s report on the Audit of Employment report, the Department of Finance said the audit was jointly delivered with the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC).

The Department said the Audit collected data on the use of external labour in the 2021-22 financial year from the 112 entities across the public service who employed staff under the Public Service Act 1999.

It said this was the first time data of this nature had been collected across the APS.

“It found that in 2021-22, these entities employed an external labour workforce of 53,900 staff (on a full-time equivalent or FTE basis) at a cost of $20.8 billion,” the Department said.

“By way of comparison, the direct employment of public servants in these 112 Agencies in the same time period was 144,300,” it said.

“This implies that in 2021-22, the Government workforce (public servants plus external labour) was around 37 per cent larger than the workforce measured by public servant numbers alone.

“Around one in every four dollars spent by Agencies for departmental purposes was on external labour services.”

The Department said the majority of external labour FTE (65 per cent) were employed in the Defence portfolio with the Social Services portfolio (10 per cent) and the Agriculture portfolio (five per cent) the next largest users of external labour.

It said the Department of Veterans’ Affairs had the largest use of external labour as a percentage of their total workforce (ASL combined with external labour FTE) at 41 per cent, with the Defence portfolio at 26 per cent.

“Around 52 per cent of external labour FTE workers were outsourced service providers (OSPs) (dominated by Defence) followed by contractors, labour hire and consultants,” Finance said.

“Outsourced service providers deliver services such as garrison, health and base support in the Defence Department and cleaning, security services and facilities management across many Departments.”

The 11-page audit report from Finance and APSC can be accessed at this PS News link.

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