The thousands of extra jobs added to the ranks of the federal public service to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic will not be a permanent fixture, with the staff cap set to stay in place for the foreseeable future.
Use of contractors and consultants will also continue, although Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is set to introduce a whole of government procurement panel for consultants, a move that is expected to get better value for money and increase transparency.
Despite calls to use public sector spending as a form of stimulus, the government has firmly placed its priority in boosting money in the private sector.
"Public sector staffing is not a substitute for private employment and our focus is on supporting job creation through private investment and economic growth as part of our JobMaker plan," Senator Cormann said in the budget papers.
Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Melissa Donnelly labelled the decision to focus solely on the private sector in the economic recovery "short-sighted".
She said the government had missed a valuable opportunity to boost the capacity for the APS to deliver services and in turn see that investment boost the economic recovery.
"At a time of national crisis, the APS is absolutely critical," Ms Donnelly said.
"Even with the temporary relief (to staffing numbers), it doesn't go far enough to undo the damage of successive Coalition governments."
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is set to lose 252 jobs in the next financial year. The Department of Social Services will shed 212 jobs.
Alternatively, Defence will get an increase of just under 200 civilian staff this financial year, followed by another hundred next financial year. Treasury and the Infrastructure Department will be buoyed by 166 and 179 staff respectively.
Federal public service numbers are expected to peak at 170,428 this year, before dropping in the following years as demand for extra manpower to deal with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic reduces.
"The temporary uplift in Commonwealth ASL will last as long as necessary over an appropriate transitional period to support programs that help Australians in need and back business recovery," Senator Cormann said.
Ms Donnelly said the government would cut the APS to historic lows following the temporary relief and this would fail Australians at a time when they were relying on the public sector more than ever.
"For those hundreds of thousands of Australians directly affected by this crisis, the government's failure to address public sector capacity means that you will continue to face long call queues when calling Centrelink, more unanswered calls, and longer waits for those small business trying to access support from the ATO," she said.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it was disappointing there were no plans to grow public sector jobs in Canberra.
"This global health and economic crisis has demonstrated the value of good and effective government - and that role should not be diminished by ideological dogma against the public service," Mr Barr said.
"If the federal Liberal government plans on delivering their ambitious economic recovery while continuing to support the national health response to the virus, they will need the support of an effective public service."
ACT Senator Zed Seselja welcomed the immediate boost to APS jobs, saying about half of the 4000 new jobs would be in Canberra.
However, his fellow ACT Senator and Labor spokeswoman for the APS, Katy Gallagher, said the budget had provided no recognition for the public service steering the nation through the pandemic.
"The public service will be pushed to deliver a long list of promises from this government with more than 12,000 fewer jobs than when they took office in 2013," Senator Gallagher said.
The new procurement panel for consultancy services will first be applied to financial management advisory services by July next year. Corporate and commercial services will follow in mid-2022.
Senator Cormann said leveraging the Commonwealth's collective buying power would ensure value for money and reduce administration.