A former Treasury official who advised on public sector reform during a recession in the early 1990s says the Government is right to be calling for restraint in the public service.
Finance Minister Bill English wants permanent restraint in public service spending and says he is working constructively on the matter with the chief executives of Government departments.
However, former Treasury Secretary Graham Scott says the Government should be wary of cutting services too far.
He says it would be unfair for the public sector to be protected while the private sector bears the brunt of a recession.
Mr English says companies like Air New Zealand have managed to improve frontline service with lower costs and the public service can do the same. He says it's the back room of public services, not the front line, which is in for change.