The number of workers in the core public service is up by almost 400 since last year and is nudging the cap set by the Government, due largely to the expansion of Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce's "super ministry" , MBIE.

The rising head count has prompted State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie to urge ministers to talk to their chief executives about intervening to keep numbers below the cap.

Mr Rennie this morning reported the number of full time equivalent positions in the core public service rose by 393 since December last year to 36,474 - just one below the cap set by the Government in March 2012.

The increase comprised of 159 full time staff and 234 positions which are at present unfilled.


While most agencies and departments reduced or held their headcounts steady eleven increased, with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) growing by 283 positions to 3238.

The other big risers were in the Ministry of Education, which was up 202 and Inland Revenue, up 159.

Without intervention, Mr Rennie expected the cap to breached by the end of the year and to top it by 206 positions by mid next year.

"I believe that we should continue to maintain the cap on core Government administration until at least the end of this term," he told State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman in a recent Cabinet paper.

"Responsible ministers should engage with chief executives to emphasise the government's commitment to the capping policy."

Dr Coleman this morning said that combined "with a focus on departmental baselines and Better Public Service Programme results, the cap on core government administration positions remains a useful part of the overall performance story across the public service".

Adding in the handful of agencies outside the cap, FTE numbers were up 175 to 44,500.

Meanwhile, the wider public service workforce which includes the likes of teachers, police, doctors and nurses increased by 1 per cent to 226,225 compared with a 2.1 per cent increase in the private sector.



The public service as at June 2013

* 44,500 full time equivalent employees - up 2.7 per cent

* $68,561 average base salary - up 2.15 per cent

* 696 redundancies in the preceding year

* $33m total cost of redundancy payments

* 45 years - the average age of public service employees