Community Scoop

Core Govt Administration Staff Cap Set At 36,475

Press Release – New Zealand Government

15 March 2012 The Government has reset the cap on core government administration staff at 36,475 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, State Services Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman says. “The public service increased enormously in size under …Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman Minister of State Services

15 March 2012 The Government has reset the cap on core government administration staff at 36,475 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, State Services Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman says.

“The public service increased enormously in size under the previous Labour government. From 2002 to 2008 the number of people employed in government departments increased by around 12,000 FTE positions, which was an overall increase of 38 per cent,” Dr Coleman says.

“When National came into government in 2008, we immediately capped the overall size of core government administration at just under 39,000 FTE positions.

“That cap was successful in turning around what had been very strong growth in public service numbers, year after year. Since then, the number of FTE positions has fallen by around 2400, and we’re committing to keep it below that new level,” Dr Coleman says.

“Before the election last year, we campaigned on reducing the cap and we’re now delivering on that promise.

“We’re confident staffing numbers will stay under the new cap, given the tight budgets we’ve got in the public sector,” he says.

The cap counts most people working in government departments and in some Crown entities, however it does not include frontline staff like teachers, police officers, hospital staff, or prison officers.

For the latest capping data visit:

For previous capping data visit:

Question and Answers What is the reset cap on core government administration? The cap has been reset at 36,475 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions for core government administration. This is about the number of FTE positions currently in the core public service.

What is core government administration? All public service departments (excluding the Community Probation and Psychological Service and Prison Service sections of the Department of Corrections, and the Child, Youth and Family, and Work and Income sections of the Ministry of Social Development) and five selected Crown entities: Housing New Zealand Corporation, New Zealand Qualifications Authority, New Zealand Transport Agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the Tertiary Education Commission.

What is the total reduction in FTE positions? Since the cap was set in December 2008, the total number of FTE positions within core government administration decreased by 2403, reducing from 38,859 to 36,456 in December 2011.

How is this different from the last six months? Core government administration had 19 fewer FTEs at 31 December 2011 than at 30 June that year. This decrease was achieved despite the merger of 357 positions from the Legal Services Agency, which was outside the core government cap, into the Ministry of Justice and 192 temporary staff employed by the Department of Conservation over the summer. How is the capping data collected? For 30 June figures, departmental staff numbers are collected through the SSC Human Resource Capability (HRC) survey. This is an annual collection of anonymous unit record HR data from both Public Service and non-Public Service departments. The HRC team produce a series of reports based on this information, and report the findings in the HRC Public Report.

For the 31 December total, a staffing survey is carried out to update the figures.

What does the Government hope to achieve with this policy? Achieving the aims of this policy goes beyond a focus on staff numbers. It involves smarter ways of working to achieve better service delivery and ensuring that all expenditure is carefully and appropriately managed within reducing departmental baselines.

How does this policy fit with the Government’s priority to grow the economy? This policy ensures a rebalancing of people and money to areas that improve services to New Zealanders and increase the efficiency of the public service.

How is the cap applied? The cap is applied globally, to the whole of core government administration, not to the individual agencies.

How is the cap monitored? The SSC collects information on staff levels for departments and selected Crown entities every six months, which is reported to Cabinet and used for monitoring purposes.

Who is responsible for ensuring departments keep staff numbers within the cap? Public Service chief executives and Crown entity Board chairs are to advise the State Services Commissioner (and responsible Ministers in the case of Crown entities) if they propose to increase staff numbers beyond their baseline establishment figures.


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