Cut the public service to save money and what happens? Well, lots of things, but one of them is that you end up spending more money on consultants. Surprise surprise:
Spending on consultants rises under National
Some government departments have tripled their spending on consultants during the National Party’s time in power, despite assurances from the Government that it was not depending more heavily on contractors.
The Treasury was one of the biggest spenders, increasing its payments to consultants from $1.4 million in 2008 – Labour’s last year in charge – to $8 million in 2011.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) tripled its consultancy fees in this time frame to $12.6 million.
The Environment Ministry was the biggest user of consultants, clocking up $15.7 million in fees in 2011, nearly one-third of its total budget. …
Labour Party State Services spokesman Chris Hipkins said increased spending by some departments was the inevitable result of laying off public service workers.
“It doesn’t surprise me because at a time when the public sector’s being cut the [government's] effectively being forced to use consultants or contractors, instead of employees, because they have this arbitrary cap which says you can’t employ new staff.”
He was concerned that in some cases public servants were losing their jobs, often with redundancy pay, before being rehired on higher wages.
“What this shows is that the Government’s cap of the number of staff isn’t actually saving the taxpayer money. If anything, it’s probably costing the taxpayer more.”
Brilliant. Economic bungling with a side order of hypocrisy:
While in opposition, National was highly critical of Labour’s failure to keep under control its consultancy fees, which were $111.9 million in the party’s first year of office.
Of course there’ll be plenty of excuses as to why it’s “different” now that the Nats are in power.
(As a final note on The Herald piece quoted here, it also includes this note:
The data on consultant expenditure was released to freelance journalist Keith Ng under the Official Information Act.
Indeed it was, and it would have been polite for The Herald to link to it. The original blog on it is here – more excellent work from Keith Ng.)