This post uses a couple of visualisations of the Federal Budget 2014 to examine the rate of growth or decline for the Australian Public Service.
The Australian Federal Budget 2014 saw a continuation in the decrease of the overall ratio of Australian Public Servants (APS) average staffing levels (ASL) compared to the size of the Australian Population. The overall decline is partially offset by an increase in the ratio of Military and Reserves.
The Government is assuming a larger population than was estimated in Budget 2013-14.
These visualisations is based on data from multiple sources. The change in the assumption regarding population growth will make decline in the ratio of public servants to citizens more pronounced; however it does not in and of itself cause the decline. Of note, the military and reservist ratio is increasing, reflecting Government policy to raise the investment in defense to 2% of GDP.
Examining the non-military and reserves ratio. The decline has been steady since 2010-11. This declining ratio has been noted previously by the Center for Policy Development in their 2011 paper The State of the Australian Public Service – an Alternative Report (P22, Figure 8).
It seems the assumption underpinning this decline is services which would have been done by the public service is better done by the private sector (assuming those services are needed). Time will tell if the profit motive underpinning many businesses in the private sector is compatible with the equitable (and cost effective) delivery of services to citizens.