Tony Abbott's department is working overtime to cope with an avalanche of correspondence after the Prime Minister put in place new rules that require a direct response from the highest political office in the land. About 40 staff in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet volunteered to work last Saturday to try to cope with the backlog of letters and emails from the public. Copies of emails sent by department boss Ian Watt to staff, leaked to Fairfax Media, reveal growing concern as far back as February over the ''resources pressure for us all''. At the time, Mr Watt wrote that while letters to the Prime Minister over a particular issue or policy were usually referred to the relevant department, a direct response from the Prime Minister's department was ''a high priority for the PM and outcomes are regularly monitored the office''. ''The Prime Minister has requested changes to the handling arrangements of this correspondence, seeking prompt and appropriate responses to all writers. To the extent possible, he would like these replies to come from his portfolio.''