Budget cuts and rising costs are forcing one of Australia's public sector science agencies to narrow its work and brace for job losses.
Geoscience Australia, the agency investigating the nation's unexplored mineral deposits and groundwater, expects to scale back its work and redeploy staff as it looks for $5 million in savings.
The agency says its annual federal budget funding has not kept pace with its expanding workload, forcing it to rethink how it's spreading its spending.
It has also pointed to the efficiency dividend - a 2 per cent annual budget cut for Commonwealth agencies - and rising maintenance costs in explaining its decision to find cuts.
The looming expiry for a four-year $100 million federal government plan to grow investment in Australian minerals exploration in northern and South Australia has also threatened a funding gap of about $9 million in employee expenses.
To plug the shortfall, it will look for $4.9 million in savings, or more than 2 per cent of its $192 million funding in 2019-2020.
Geoscience Australia chief executive James Johnson, writing in April, told staff in an email that executives and employees believed the agency was spread too thin.
"We are mindful of this and now seek to bring greater focus to GA's activities," he said.
"Rather than adopting a percentage reduction across all programs, these savings will be achieved through more targeted decisions that reduce or cease particular activities."
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The 600-staff agency says only a "modest" number of employees will move into new roles under its savings bid. Those it cannot redeploy will receive a voluntary redundancy offer, however it would not say how many it expected would leave the agency.
Geoscience Australia said it would stop activities that contributed less to its goals of building investment in Australia's minerals, securing its water, and growing the nation's resilience to natural disasters.
Among parts of the agency expected to bear the brunt of cost cutting are its laboratories analysing rocks and soils.
Its national mapping branch, and its national earth and marine observation branch, which uses satellites to observe Australia's landforms, dimensions and surface water, are also expected to be targets.
The union representing Commonwealth scientists, engineers and other public servants said federal government policies were hitting Geoscience Australia's budget.
Professionals Australia's ACT branch director Dale Beasley said the agency's bid to find savings had not been transparent.
"There's still some pretty big areas that have some question marks over what their future looks like," he said.
Geoscience Australia's decision to pull out of some scientific work would make public servants question their future in the agency, Mr Beasley said.
"Our members want a strong future for their profession in the Australian Public Service and the Australian community deserves no less.
"It's disappointing to see these cuts occurring as a result of government policy year after year."