11 Nov 2008

National prepares to prune the public service

8:21 am on 11 November 2008

Big Government ministries are expected to undergo cuts as the incoming National Government prepares to review staffing levels.

Incoming Prime Minister John Key says departmental chief executives will be asked to carry out spending reviews; he expects savings of at least $500 million over three years.

National won't say what departments will be affected, but it wants to reduce the number of bureaucrats to about 36,000.

The core bureaucracy, excluding frontline staff, is more than 40,000, compared with 26,000 in 2000.

The head of Victoria University's Public Policy department, Jonathan Boston, says ministries including health, education and social development are likely to be trimmed.

Questions have also been asked about whether New Zealand needs 41 departments, 65 Crown entities and 21 district health boards.

The Maxim Institute expects some departments could be merged, while others can certainly be pruned.

Chief executive Greg Fleming says good examples include the Children's Commission, and the Families Commission.

The PSA says the advent of a National Government has public servants worried about their jobs.