Thousands of bureaucrats are being urgently redeployed to areas of critical demand in a massive reorganisation of the public service to back COVID-19 emergency measures.
Almost 2000 public servants have already stepped up, volunteering to help Services Australia cope with an enormous surge in inquiries from distressed people desperate for assistance after being suddenly thrown out of work by social isolation measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
A further 1000 Australian Taxation Office staff have reportedly been taken from debt collecting and lodgement functions and are now helping handle a massive increase in phone inquiries.
The two agencies, along with the Department of Health, are at the forefront of the federal government's unprecedented actions to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak and its huge knock-on effects for the economy, which has been sent into virtual freefall by actions to slow transmission.
A taskforce set up to manage the APS workforce and mobilise staff to where they are most needed has made the three organisations its initial priority.
It has been estimated that Services Australia, which is responsible for administering the JobSeeker Allowance as well as increased payments to other welfare recipients, will need 5000 additional staff.
Officials are confident that they will be able to meet their needs through a combination of volunteers, people already on temporary employment registers and labour hire arrangements.
Already around 280 have been deployed to a Services Australia call centre and processing facility being set up in the Enid Lyons Building in Tuggeranong which will eventually have a complement of 1200 staff.
The ATO, which will be responsible for implementing the $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme while at the same time administering other measures including early superannuation access, the instant asset write-off for business and the Superannuation Guarantee amnesty, is set to come under intense pressure.
In addition to 1000 ATO staff who have been transferred from debt collection and lodgement functions, it is understood 160 contractors hired for superannuation work are being re-trained to assist in answering inquiries about early access to superannuation balances while this year's graduate intake could be used to help meet surges in demand.
It is understood the taskforce coordinating the mobilisation of workers across the APS is considering arrangements under which most public servants who volunteer for redeployment are rotated through postings every two to three weeks.
Staff who are redeployed will remain attached to their parent agency.
Public service commissioner Peter Woolcott on Tuesday said the numbers of staff nominating for redeployment were growing every day. More than 300 casual staff had said they wanted to support the government's critical functions.
"We are witnessing a major change in our operating model and a huge sense of public service on display," Mr Woolcott said.