28/11/2006 - 21:00

Government wasting office space

28/11/2006 - 21:00

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Perth’s tight office market has acting Auditor General Colin Murphy concerned the government is wasting space.

Perth’s tight office market has acting Auditor General Colin Murphy concerned the government is wasting space.

The Auditor General’s office tabled a report in Parliament last week which claimed that most government office space did not meet the mandatory policy standard of 15 square metres per person and instead, public servants were occupying on average 21sq m.

The report warned that government leases on approximately 80,000sq m of office space were due to expire in 2007, at a time when the market for accommodation would likely be at its tightest for 15 years.

If the government were to meet the policy standard, Mr Murphy claimed, it could save around $20 million a year and approximately 80,000sq m of office space, equivalent to almost four buildings the size of Dumas House West Perth.

“Compounding the situation is the fact that many government-owned office buildings are ageing and will require capital investment to provide high quality and efficient workplaces in the future,” Mr Murphy said in a statement.

He also recommended the Department of Housing and Works gather and analyse reliable information on accommodation cost efficiency, as well as regularly assess the impact of office accommodation policy.

In response to the report, HoUsing and Works minister Michelle Roberts said it was important to be practical about accommodation, unless the Western Australian public wanted to spend millions of dollars in an extremely tight office market to refit or build new offices.

Since the ratio was introduced in 2004, Ms Roberts said four major office fit-outs undertaken by the department had achieved an overall average of 14.95sq m per full-time employee, but the required reduction in density for all staff would take many years to achieve.

“WhilE the average staff density ratio of 21 square metres per employee is too high, the department, which is responsible for managing 60 per cent of the government office accommodation, have complied with the policy,” she said.

Mr Murphy warned that a narrow focus in the area would be short sighted and suggested office interiors should not only be open plan but a space which can support and shape changes in how people and organisations work together.

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