The ACT public service has launched an informal recruiting drive among federal bureaucrats in Canberra who fall victim to spending cuts and efficiency dividends.
The territory's Commissioner for Public Administration says that a smaller, more nimble organisation that is closer to its community than the lumbering federal bureaucracy could be attractive to Commonwealth public servants who find themselves dumped by a Coalition government.
Commissioner Andrew Kefford conceded that the territory could not match the Commonwealth salaries, but said that the ACT's 20,000-strong bureaucracy offered other less tangible benefits.
But Mr Kefford's Commonwealth counterpart, Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick, said on Tuesday that a federal public servant could do anything that ''floats your boat,'' as the two commissioners bantered at a seminar about the relative merits of their workplaces.
The latest increase in the Labor government's efficiency dividend could result in up to 5000 public servants joining the dole queue, according to unions, and an incoming Coalition government has pledged to cut 12000 positions in the service.
Mr Kefford, himself a former senior Commonwealth bureaucrat, told the seminar, hosted by the Institute of Public Administration, that he and his colleagues had better access to the levers of power in the territory government.
''Having sat in the Commonwealth cabinet room when I was at Prime Minister and Cabinet, I had a sense of very significant, very important discussions,'' he told the audience.
''In the ACT, we actually sit at the table and not in the corner.
''One of the things … different in the ACT is I can see, even sitting in a central agency, the impact of what I do at work on the city in which I choose to raise my kids. There are things about the Commonwealth that we can't do and there are things that are great about the ACT that the Commonwealth can't do.''
Mr Kefford said the ''closeness'' to the community that ACT bureaucrats enjoyed compensated for their lower salaries.
Mr Sedgwick joked that it was possible to do ''the community thing'' while working in a federal government department or agency.
''Whatever floats your boat, you can do in the Commonwealth,'' he said.