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Managing the size of the Australian Public Service

The Government remains committed to managing the size of the public sector.

Agency Heads are responsible for managing the size of their workforces —including recruitment activity — by ensuring that employee headcount is consistent with Average Staffing Level (ASL)1 estimates reported through the budget process.

Monitoring and reporting arrangements

The Department of Finance will collect ASL information regularly to monitor the funded size of agencies and assist Government decision making. For further information on ASL please contact asl [at] finance.gov.au

APS agencies are required routinely report personal, employment, diversity and education data to the Commission2. This data covers all people employed in the APS under the authority of the PS Act, s22 and s72. This data enables the Commission to provide headcount and employment statistics and trends.

For further information on employment data held by the Commission please visit the APS Employment Database (APSED) website or contact apsed [at] apsc.gov.au

Agency's headcount at a point in time is not directly comparable to ASL. However, the two data sets provide an indication of trends and variances in agencies' staffing profiles. Variances can occur due to a number of reasons, such as Machinery of Government changes, workforce planning decisions and operational requirements.

If there is a variation in employee headcount the Commission may seek an explanation from the agency.

1 Budget ASL is the average number of employees receiving salary or wages (or compensation in lieu of salary or wages) over a financial year, with adjustments for casual and part-time employees to show the full-time equivalent. See Department of Finance website.

2 Agencies must continue to provide point-in-time APS data to the Commission in accordance with the timeframes set out in the APSED manual.

Last reviewed: 
6 June 2019