The new Australian Public Service recruitment arrangements announced recently by the Government will impact over 14,000 non-ongoing or casual Australian Public Sector APS employees, usually referred to as ‘temps’. Unlike contractors, temps are temporary employees of the APS.
The Government’s Guidance for agencies directs agency heads to “take measures to ensure that existing non-ongoing employment arrangements cease at the end of their current term, and refrain from entering new arrangements, other than where the agency head approves a particular requirement in order to meet a critical business demand”.
“Agency heads should also consider cancelling non-ongoing arrangements in the case of programs that have been closed or downgraded.”
The new arrangements came into effect immediately following the announcement by Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service Eric Abetz on 31 October 2013.
The Australian Public Service (APS) employs around 14,300 non-ongoing staff, according to the latest data from the APS Commission.
Informed industry sources indicate that some government agencies are shoring up their contractor management units, in anticipation of needing to fulfil the job function of the temporary employees with contractors once the temporary employment arrangements cease.
The use of contractors in place of temporary employees occurred at the time of the previous major downsizing of the APS, in the early days of the Howard Coalition Government.
Such a counter-reaction would be welcome news to contractors who have been feeling the brunt of the cost saving measures currently imposed on Federal Government agencies. The Government signed 4,988 ICT labour hire contracts worth $760.7 million in the 2012-13 financial year alone.
Around 684 contracts are due to expire in November or December 2013, according to Intermedium data. These contracts are worth a combined total of over $94.8 million.
A further 1783 contracts worth around $428 million are due to expire in 2014 and 2015.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is the leading government buyer of ICT contractor services, having signed 723 contracts worth a total of $131.8 million in 2012-13.
The Department of Human Services came in second, with $108.5 million in ICT labour hire procurement across 547 contracts in 2012-13.
Major suppliers of ICT labour hire services to the APS that may benefit from the job freeze are:
- Paxus, which has won 396 contracts worth $67.9 million;
- Talent International, which has won 323 contracts worth $50 million;
- Peoplebank, which has won 369 contracts worth $48.9 million; and
- Compas, which has won 316 contracts worth $48.8 million.
There are currently six ICT labour hire panels available to various Federal Government agencies. Of these, three are open to multi-agency use, including the:
- Australian Taxation Office panel for the Provision of IT Contractor Services that is accessible by all Government agencies. The arrangement is due to expire in July 2014;
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade panel for the Provision of ICT Professionals, that is open to use by all Government agencies, and due to expire in June 2016; and
- Department of Human Services panel for ICT Contractor Services that is available to an extensive list of participating agencies. It is due to expire in August 2015.
Individual agency arrangements include:
- The former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’ (now split into the Department of Education and the Department of Employment) panel for the Provision of ICT Contractor Services, due to expire in March 2015; and
- The Australian Crime Commission’s panel for temporary ICT Professionals, due to expire in June 2014.
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