Operation Tetris squeezing more public servants into less space

By David Donaldson

April 3, 2017

Operation Tetris is successfully cutting down on the amount of excess office space held by the Commonwealth, according to data released by the Department of Finance on Monday.

Boosting the occupational density of Commonwealth government offices means the program is on track to realise savings to the taxpayer of $300 million over 10 years, says the government.

Since Operation Tetris was launched (and named) by Finance Minister Matthias Cormann as a coordinated approach to managing surplus property in 2015, the program has filled over 60,000 square metres of vacant and surplus office space in the ACT and a further 7000m² in other capital cities.

This effort has resulted in increased efficiency for the public sector’s overall accommodation footprint, including an increase in the number of tenancies that met the occupational density target of 14m², rising from 13% to 22.1%.

Since Operation Tetris began, the Commonwealth’s total net lettable area has decreased by 7.6%.

As at June last year, there were 621 Australian government owned or leased tenancies with at least 500m² of office area, located in more than 200 suburbs across the country.

More desks are being occupied. The workpoint vacancy rate has decreased from 20.9% in September 2015 down to 13.8%. The growth in total employee numbers from 2015 to 2016 probably helped, but the total number of workpoints continues to reduce as well.

The government puts the decrease in vacancy rates down to efforts to consolidate office accommodation and backfill surplus space.

The next focus of Operation Tetris will be on finding savings outside Canberra. The government has appointed Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu as a strategic adviser on property, to assist in identifying further property savings.

The data reflects changes across 78 reporting entities using at least 500m² of office space leased or owned by the Commonwealth.

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