The RBA is about to start an efficiency review

Photo: Greg Wood /AFP/Getty Images

Philip Lowe, who took over as governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, is taking a leaf out of his Bank of England counterpart Mark Carney’s book, by commencing a review of the central bank’s operations to boost efficiency.

The RBA will seek external assistance to look closely at its operations and administration, Lowe told MPs on Friday. The review, which will commence within a month, does not include the policy frameworks.

“We are in the process of commissioning an external review of the efficiency of our operations,” Lowe said. “We want to make sure that we are continuously improving as an organisation and we are seeking outside assistance to identify opportunities for improvement.”

In his opening remarks to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Lowe said he would be able to share the review’s “key conclusions” with them later this year.

In 2013, soon after being appointed governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney hired McKinsey to advise on a strategic review and Deloitte to find potential cost savings. The bank subsequently cut 100 jobs in its central services division in the biggest cull in a decade.

The RBA, in addition to conducting monetary policy, promotes the overall stability of the financial system, manages the nation’s foreign currency reserves and operates Australia’s main high-value payments system. It provides these services through the following groups –Business Services, Corporate Services, Economic Group, Financial Markets Group, Financial System Group and five other supporting departments.

The following charts from RBA’s 2016 annual report shows the bank’s staff count and split between projects:

The total number of RBA employees (excluding those in its currency notes printing unit) increased by 7% in the year ended June 2016 to 1,347, according to its annual report.

The bank attributed the increase to major, multi-year projects related to the renovation of the its banking systems, the next generation of banknotes and the new payments infrastructure for faster payments.

Last year 13% of staff left the RBA, with contract expiration accounting for a fifth of the departures. Given the high level of project-related work, it is expected that this trend will persist for the next few years, the bank said.

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