More jobs need to go ... acting Chief Statistician Johnathon Palmer.

More jobs need to go ... acting Chief Statistician Jonathan Palmer. Photo: Penny Bradfield

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says it is too early to say which of its programs face the axe as it moves to cut up to 100 jobs to tackle a $50 million budget black hole.

Staff at the bureau were told on Wednesday morning that a voluntary redundancy program was now open as their bosses grapple with an increased efficiency dividend and struggles to save $50 million in the next three years.

Workers were also told that some ABS programs would be cut, but a spokeswoman said on Wednesday afternoon that those projects had not yet been identified. Management made it clear that programs would be cut in the savings drive leading to between 70 and 100 redundancies.

The main public sector union says the community and governments will be worse off without the skills of the workers who will lose their jobs.

Acting chief statistician Jonathan Palmer, pictured, told his 3300 workers that efforts to slash the bureau's budget, which had already included "unfunding" dozens of jobs, had not been enough and that more positions would have to go.

"We are going into next financial year with an increased efficiency dividend, so we need to find about $50 million over the next three years," Mr Palmer told his workers.

"While there has been good work by all staff to identify productivity and cost saving measures, these will not be enough. The gap will need to be addressed through work program reductions."

Mr Palmer said applications for redundancy payouts were now open and the bureau hoped to have the process finished by June 30.

"Unfortunately, the reduced work program means we will need 70 to 100 fewer staff.

"To help achieve this, a voluntary redundancy program is being launched today. Under this program staff at all levels will be able to express an interest in a voluntary redundancy."

Community and Public Sector Union deputy national president Alistair Waters said ABS workers who had already shouldered the burden of productivity increases faced losing their jobs.

"These cuts aren't taking place because there is nothing for staff to do," the union official said. "On the contrary there is plenty of work for them. We are deeply concerned that this will see reductions to the statistical services that ABS provides to the Australian community.

"Good data is vital to good government decision-making and these cuts put that at risk."

Another information session will be held for the bureau's 3300-strong workforce, when management will reveal more details about the cuts.