Nearly 150 public service middle managers in the ATO's spin operations will be forced to vie for just 90 jobs as the Tax Office wraps up an overhaul of its marketing and communications division.
Tax has slashed the ranks of its communications and marketing staff from more than 520 public servants in March 2014 to fewer than 400 but says it still has too many.
The new cull will cut overall numbers in the division by about 30 but will dramatically increase the ratio of the rank and file in APS classifications to middle managers in executive level roles as bosses are fired and lower-ranking public servants hired.
For the 59 executives who fail to make the cut for a role in the new-look department, redundancy looms if they cannot secure another position in the shrinking revenue agency where jobs are scarce or in another public service department.
First assistant commissioner of tax Sue Sinclair said those that remained would be working in a "truly audience centric" environment.
Among the issues found in the marketing and communications division was a workforce spread over 17 offices throughout Australia and often working to different performance standards and a top-heavy structure with nearly one-third of staff at executive level 1 but a shortage of lower-ranked public servants at APS 4, APS 5 and APS 6 levels.
The ATO also found it had "considerably more staff dedicated to internal communication than other comparable government and private sector organisations".
Ms Sinclair told staff in a bulletin last week that the review would deliver a communications operation that was "data-driven".
"The vision is for a single, united capability that is strategic, innovative and truly audience centric," Ms Sinclair wrote.
"Work is data-driven and evidence-based, delivering measurable business outcomes in partnership with business areas."
The senior executive said the process would make the Tax Office's operations look better as the Finance Department cast its eye over all media and communications functions in the federal bureaucracy.
"The review positions the ATO for a whole of government review of communications functions commissioned by the Minister for Finance under the smaller government – contestability framework," Ms Sinclair wrote in her bulletin.
"While we will be actively seeking to place employees, we cannot guarantee this will be successful for all employees in scope," she wrote.
Ms Sinclair told staff the office would fulfil its obligations to staff.
"This includes seeking ATO redeployment opportunities in your region, and for those that are interested, across other Australian Public Service agencies," she said.
"If these redeployment efforts are not successful, it may result in employees being declared potentially excess."
Unions are concerned that public servants will find themselves on the career scrapheap.
Australian Services Union official Jeff Lapidos predicted there would be no jobs to go to for some staff.
"The problem is where the excess employees will go," the union official said.
The union is calling on the government to reinvest the savings back into the ATO, so staff can be redeployed into new work rather than being made redundant.