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Time to Organize Federal Job Swapping Infrastructure

Just get on with it!

The Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP) talks a big story about how most of the 20 thousand odd public service job reductions can be achieved through attrition. With the average public servant age in the mid-50s this is not an unrealistic goal.  There are way more than 20,000 federal public servants with the magic 85 factor would happily retire as long as there are incentives for them to stand up and be counted. The sad fact is that there is no incentive; there is no facility to make it easy to go; and there is no infrastructure to link up “affected” public servants with those wanting to retire. Evidence suggests that inter-departmental job swapping is essentially dead because senior managers will not commit to taking new employees for fear they may not need these new employees in the future. Paralysis has set the system.

The Public Sector Unions recently launched an appeal to the Staff Relations Board to attempt to force Treasury Board to establish some job swapping infrastructure. Hopefully, this appeal will work but one has to wonder why the unions have to ask for government to do what they have professed all along to wanting to do. That is - achieve their personnel downsizing objectives through attrition.

The Liberal government downsizing in the mid 90s was different. They also achieved a much more radical goal (removing $50 billion a year out of the system). They achieved a much larger target (50,000 odd jobs), predominantly with attrition and by providing incentives for eligible public servants to leave.  They also encouraged those that did not want to leave to swap with those that did. At that time, I was Vice Chairman of the Ottawa-Carleton Board of Trade and worked with a local delegation to ask the senior Minister from Ottawa to establish an organization to provide job swapping and job re-integration services for federal public servants. The request was accepted and implemented in record time.

Coming back to the key question here: why is this not happening now? It just makes sense for any organization, particularly government.

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