Friday, March 20, 2009

And more slash and burn

The government is slashing and burning again, this time at the State Services Commission. Their budget is facing a whopping 45% cut, and staff numbers are being cut by either 22 or 67 depending on which of the contradictory numbers you believe. With other restructurings, it has tended to be the higher figure, so they're looking at an almost 30% cut in staff numbers. This is beyond decimation - its the wholesale gutting of our chief public service watchdog. But with the government killing off state-sector pay equity programmes and deciding that it will sack Chief Executives rather than the SSC, I guess they just don't think they need it anymore...

Update: It seems the Dom-Posts headline 45% figure may be a tad misleading, as some fraction of it represents the shifting of the SSC's IT functions to the Department of Internal Affairs. Looking at the detailed appropriation [PDF], this represents about 33% of departmental output expenses, or about $20 million. The cancelled Government Shared Network represents 25%, or $15 million (I am not sure where the oft-quoted $28 million figure comes from, though it may include capital costs). It is unclear how much the recruitment and graduate intern programmes cost. Even accounting for the shift, they're looking at a massive cut to their core budget, and its pretty clear that they're going to be expected to (in the words of The Wire) "do more with less". An overworked and underresourced watchdog is simply not a recipe for a well-run state sector, and these sorts of massive staff cuts make a mockery of the government's "commitment" to preserve jobs. But maybe they can all work on John key's cycleway instead?