Julie Bishop's DFAT websites came under fire in a Senate budget estimates hearing on Wednesday.

Julie Bishop's DFAT websites came under fire in a Senate budget estimates hearing on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Three websites for the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolios have cost taxpayers $113,130, according to answers to questions on notice. 

The costs include more than $68,000 for "website testing", $19,000 for training, $15,000 for "website release management" and $10,000 for "website deployment". 

"I assume [website deployment] means pushing the button to put it up," said Labor Senator Joseph Ludwig, who was asking top bureaucrats about the costs in a Senate budget estimates hearing on Wednesday morning.  

Senator Ludwig later said: "This is just more evidence of the twisted priorities of the government while it breaks its promises to pensioners, students and low and middle income families."

DFAT secretary Peter Varghese said work on the websites was not at the request of the portfolio ministers; Julie Bishop, her parliamentary secretary Brett Mason or Trade Minister Andrew Robb. 

Senators on all sides of politics have had a laser-like focus on spending in the public service during the past 10 days of budget estimates.

Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick was grilled on almost $1 million for training and catering for bureaucrats over a number of years. 

About 500 public service jobs will be cut at the department in the next 13 months, about 12 per cent of the organisation, after the federal budget imposed cuts of $100 million in the 2014-15 financial year.

A DFAT spokesman said the money spent on websites was part of "normal upgrades to ICT systems".

"The upgrades were done because the websites had been supported by older technologies that needed to be replaced as they were at end of their operational life," the spokesman said.

"The change to a new technology for these sites was undertaken as part of a broader move to modernise the department’s online services platforms.

"The new websites are easier to maintain and provide a better quality of service.”

Mr Varghese told the hearing he still believed natural attrition and voluntary redundancies would achieve the reduction in the workforce. 

So far, 60 per cent of the staff who have taken redundancies have been former AusAID employees. As of May 22, 12 senior executives and 149 other staff had taken redundancy or incentives to retire. 

At the same hearing, DFAT executives revealed the bureaucracy's request to see former foreign minister Bob Carr's book before it was published was ignored.

Mr Varghese said the department provided documents to Mr Carr to help with the book, Diary of a Foreign Minister, with the request that a draft be shown.

"I never saw a draft of the book," he said.

When asked if he was ignored, the secretary said: "I didn't receive a response to my request."