Ousted prime minister Tony Abbott oversaw the loss of about 15,000 public service jobs during his two years in office.
The latest official staffing count, released just hours before Mr Abbott lost his job on Monday night, shows the federal bureaucracy employed fewer people in June than in the last months of the Howard government eight years ago.
The Coalition came to power promising to slash at least 12,000 jobs via "natural attrition" (a hiring freeze). After the election, it immediately imposed tight restrictions on government recruitment, which were lifted just two months ago.
However, the government also retrenched more than 9100 staff over the past two years to help reach its target.
The severe cuts dramatically slowed economic growth in the ACT, where about 7260 of the lost jobs were based.
But the losses were not the steepest in recent history: John Howard oversaw the loss of about 30,000 public service jobs in his first three-year term as prime minister.
The latest data shows that almost all redundancies in 2014-15 – more than 90 per cent – were voluntary. About two-thirds of the staff who left were close to or older than the typical Australian Public Service retirement age.
But while the Abbott government shed jobs much faster than it had scheduled, it failed to reduce the proportion of staff employed in so-called middle-management or subject-matter-expert roles: the executive-level officers.
Both the previous Labor government and the Coalition-appointed commission of audit had targeted these officers, saying public service agencies appeared to employ too many of them.
The audit commission's report warned last year that an excess of supervisors and managers "can result in insufficiently engaged staff, leading to dissatisfaction and reduced morale as well as ineffective communication between different layers of organisations, unclear accountabilities and higher staff costs".
However, the ranks of EL officers continued to grow last year relative to the bureaucracy as a whole: they now comprise more than three in every 10 public servants.
The Public Service Commission's staffing bulletin said the trend towards these higher-paid jobs "at least partly reflects the changing nature of APS employment, with a more skilled workforce undertaking increasingly complex and difficult roles".
The bureaucracy's staff are also becoming older (the average public servant is 43 years old) and more likely to be women.
Releasing the bulletin, the commission said in a statement that women's progress at more senior levels "is an area of marked improvement over the years".
"For the first time, women at the executive level 1 classification have reached parity with men. The representation of women in the senior executive service has reached 40.4 per cent."
Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd said the APS workforce was changing in much the same way as other labour market sectors.
"It is important that the employment practices of the APS reflect the standards and features of the Australian community. At the same time, the APS can lead in areas where there is labour market under-representation, such as Indigenous Australians and people with disability," he said.