The federal public service has redeployed more than 1100 Canberra-based staff to Services Australia as the agency responds to heightened demand amid COVID-19 restrictions.
Commonwealth public servants redeployed to Australia's social security agency are working in four Tuggeranong buildings as staff respond to 21 times the usual number of JobSeeker claims.
Staff from at least 20 departments and agencies have been rapidly redeployed to Services Australia, undergoing training to answer phone calls to the agency and process welfare applications.
The number of public servants redeployed to the agency has grown from about 300 since April 1, while bureaucrats volunteering across the nation to work in agencies needing more staff have swelled from 2000 to 5700 in the same period.
The Defence Department has seconded 100 staff to other agencies, mainly Services Australia, a figure expected to grow this week. The Department of Social Services has also redeployed large numbers to Services Australia.
About 30 federal public servants have been redeployed to the centre of the APS response to the pandemic, the Health Department, helping liaise with cabinet and write ministerial briefs.
Redeployment efforts will move into a second phase, focusing on staff living in regional areas outside the ACT.
The public service aims to redeploy 500-1000 more public servants in these regions, including casuals and contracted staff, to Services Australia.
An Australian Public Service Commission spokesperson said the APS was witnessing a major change in its operating model and a significant display of commitment to public service.
"Like all sectors across the economy right now, the APS needs to adapt its operating model to navigate this pandemic response," the spokesperson said.
The APS was mobilising its workforce to be able to surge staffing in response to COVID-19.
"These are extraordinary circumstances that we have not experienced previously," the spokesperson said.
"The APS response is identifying the critical services for Australians right now and responding quickly.
"The Prime Minister has said decisions we take now could be for the next six months. We need to expect that, over the coming months, resources may need to shift several times, in response to changing needs."
Agencies have responded after Prime Minister Scott Morrison directed them to identify the number of staff they can redeploy. The APS commission is examining the numbers.
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