Abbott orders APS: get it done

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sent a blunt warning to departments caught up in his government's latest public service reshuffle: get it done.

Mr Abbott gave the departments of Industry, Education and Social Services a strict two-month deadline to finalise the move of hundreds of public servants between the workplaces.

The unusual prime ministerial edict is believed to reflect government frustration at the glacial pace of the massive "machinery of government" (or MoG) changes it put in place in 2013 and 2014.

The Prime Minister's office wrote to all the agencies involved in the latest reshuffle giving them just two months - until February 21 - to get the public servants moved and working in their new departments.

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The MoG changes were quietly announced just before Christmas, moving responsibilities for training from the Department of Industry and Science to the newly named Department of Education and Training, with about 470 public servants from Canberra and around the nation on the move.

Another unspecified number of bureaucrats at Education were packing their bags for the Department of Social Services in Canberra as responsibility for childcare was transferred from one department to the other.

More than 13,000 public servants were shuffled between departments in the wake of the sweeping changes, mergers and axings of agencies by the newly elected Abbott government in late 2013.

But the process did not happen fast: some of the MoG changes took many months to complete, much to the frustration of their portfolio ministers.

The Canberra Times understands the agencies affected by the latest reshuffle believe they are looking good to meet the Prime Minister's deadline.

An Education Department spokesman said last week he and his colleagues were confident they complete the changes, which included large numbers of Canberra-based officials moving offices, by the February 21 deadline.

"All matters have been agreed and the machinery of government change is close to finalisation," the spokesman said.

The Prime Minister's office was not keen to discuss the reshuffle and declined to answer questions.

"The implementation of the new Administrative Arrangements Orders [is] a matter for government agencies to put in place," a spokeswoman said.


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