A screen shot of PM&C chief Ian Watt delivering his speech.

A screen shot of PM&C chief Ian Watt delivering his speech.

Bosses in the federal public service have been warned to take the Abbott government’s plans to cut red tape “very, very seriously” because their careers depend on it.

Crack teams of red-tape busting public servants will be formed in all government departments in an effort to cut $1 billion worth of regulation each year, the nation’s top bureaucrat said on Friday.

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Ian Watt also said, in an address to the whole service, that departments should wield the razor now instead of waiting for the Abbott government’s Commission of Audit to impose cuts.

A screenshot of the webcast showing public servants listening to PM&C chief Ian Watt.

A screenshot of the webcast showing public servants listening to PM&C chief Ian Watt.

Dr Watt told the service’s senior executives their job performance would be judged on their progress in cutting red tape and that the upheaval gripping the bureaucracy was only in its early stages.

In a speech that positioned Dr Watt right behind his new boss Tony Abbott, the PM&C chief said he believed the government’s target of cutting down on $1 billion of regulation each year was “achievable”.

“I actually believe that’s readily achievable,” Dr Watt told the audience in Canberra.

“After all, the repeal of the carbon tax alone will reduce business compliance costs by about $85 million a year.

“That doesn’t make $1 billion look too big in my mind.”

Dr Watt said the performance of the bureaucracy’s senior executive service would be assessed against their success in the Abbott government’s war on unnecessary regulation.

“Every department and agency and every departmental secretary and senior bureaucrat will be expected to take deregulation very, very seriously,” Dr Watt said.

“That’s why the government has decided that dedicated deregulation units, headed by SES members, will be established in every department.

“That’s why we’re in the process of implementing the government’s election commitment to link reductions in red tape to SES performance agreements and discussions.”

Dr Watt warned there was a lot more to come in the “machinery of government” upheavals that have now seen 25 “MoG” changes completed, involving 15 departments and 10,000 public servants moved around.

“In horse racing parlance … we are one out and one back, well placed overall but with still a lot to do down the straight, we’re not at the finishing line of transition yet,” the departmental secretary said.

“The transition to new government is still very much a work in progress.

“We are still in an initial phase.”

Departments should not wait for the results of the government’s Commission of Audit before making cuts to reflect the “financial constraints” facing the service.

“I would be disappointed if that was the case in most department and agencies and I doubt that it is,” he said.

“We should not wait for the audit commission, we should anticipate and get ahead of the curve, I think that’s been widely done around Canberra already.”