Dollars and sense: PSA meeting with on Planning reform - Public Service Association

Dollars and sense: PSA meeting with on Planning reform

PSA and Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) workplace representatives met with Planning Minister Scully and his staff on Wednesday 8 May to outline our concerns that stem from reform and future funding of the Planning Directorate.

What was discussed?

Future workforce composition

The NSW Government has inherited an agency with a large cohort of fixed-term, temporary and contingent labour who do not have the same level of job security as those ongoing staff. With the financial cliff of 30 June fast approaching, decisions on Government funding are most important. The PSA wants to see commitments for funding certainty now that the SES headcount has been substantially reduced.

New policy proposals.

The current New Policy Proposal (NPP) processes and the need for funding certainty enable the aggressive Government remit in Housing and Planning reform. All of these 24 NPPs require NSW Government sign-off and many of these proposals are seeking funding extensions to existing programs.

Staff turnover

The potential for ‘staff flight’ where temporary staff will seek more secure opportunities away from the Planning Directorate before decisions on funding in the Budget will be made and extension to temporary contracts can be made.

Funding mismatches

This is where temporary staff are administering Business as Usual work or legislated work under funding models that require yearly review and approval, in an austere budgetary climate. The PSA detailed several serious business risks and bottlenecks if temporary staff were not extended past 30 June and questioned whether this funding model should continue into the future.

Minister Scully reiterated his support for current ongoing employees and outlined the NSW Government priorities in the Planning and Housing space all the while playing a straight bat on the NPP applications, deferring to the Cabinet processes and the upcoming budget.

Temps get a stay

There are now three dates for temporary staff extensions.

  1. Temporary staff with finishing dates of 30 June due to programs that are at the end of life are being extended till the 31 July.
  2. DPHI has now committed to the extension of temporary contracts for those business-critical roles as well as administering Transport Oriented Development till 20 December.
  3. All other temporary staff are extended to 30 September.

This is to enable recruitment processes for temporary roles once NPPs are approved as well as the filling of current on-going vacancies. This will be administered through an Expression of Interest process.

Note: There are some exemptions that relate specifically to Regional Housing Taskforce and Housing and Productivity Contribution.

The EOI process

This is for existing ongoing staff and temporary staff who have gone through an external comparative assessment recruitment and is being used to facilitate the movement of staff at grade as well as to place temporary staff once NPP funding is established. This process may involve the creation of talent pools where staff can be appointed to vacant roles. This may come about because of an individual being appointed another ongoing role through this process.

Where to from here?

The PSA has sought information on the current vacancies of ongoing roles that currently exist in the Planning Directorate. This was to gauge recruitment potential for temporary staff with skills and experience. However, DPHI representatives were unable to provide this level of detail. It doesn’t bode terribly well for an organisation like DPHI that is asking for $1.1 billion in extra funding when it can’t tell the PSA about the current vacancies that exist in its staffing establishment.

The concern is that whilst there has been a general commitment to the current ongoing cohort, there is no such commitment to ongoing vacancies. Cuts to vacant roles or decisions not to fill ongoing roles is effectively restructuring by stealth and places undue workload pressures on those staff left.

The PSA and its delegates will continue to advocate for the placement of affected staff into as many roles as possible.



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