As the Deputy is aware, the Government is committed to delivering a leaner, more efficient public service; a process that continues to require tight control of public service numbers.
The moratorium on promotion and recruitment in the public service has been an important control mechanism for this purpose and has served to help reduce numbers and allow for some limited recruitment where necessary, for example in frontline service posts in the health and education sectors.
At the end of 2012, there were just over 290,000 public servants, which is a net reduction of some 30,000 since 2008. Within that, it has been necessary to allow for some limited recruitment to protect service levels, but such exemptions are only considered in exceptional cases and in pressing circumstances.
My Department is currently compiling the specific data and information requested, which will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible. In the meantime, the Deputy can consult my Department’s web site, which has details on public service numbers and trends as far back as 1994.
Looking forward over the course of the next few years, the public service will be required to deliver more savings and maintain services with fewer resources and staff. Budget 2013 will deliver a further reduction in Public Service numbers to a ceiling of 287,000, and by end-2014 this must go down again to 282,500.
It is part of the day to day function of the Boards and Management of all public bodies to assess, budget and plan for current and ongoing staffing requirements within the context of reducing public service numbers. In support of this, the Strategic Workforce Planning Groups in each sector are currently ensuring that sectoral employers develop plans to deal on an ongoing basis with the operational and strategic consequences arising from the reductions in public service staffing numbers.