Jan 16, 2014

Contracts, consultants and public service cuts

Brendan Horan has revealed a budget
blowout at TPK

This was lost in the Christmas season. From Scoop:

Brendan Horan is concerned that Te Puni Kokiri is massively overspending on contractors and consultants while at the same time lacking the staff to have the capacity to deliver on its core mission. 
“Te Puni Kokori spent over $9.5 million on consultants and contractors in the last financial year. Over 130 businesses, organisations and individuals benefitted from this largesse, holding contracts with a value of nearly $18 million,” said Brendan Horan. 
“At the same time, Te Puni Kokiri’s staff numbers are 15.3% below the minimum needed to deliver the services that are required of them. This is unacceptable at a time when Maori are at the wrong end of the scale in education, in employment, and in achievement.

Every government department contracts for external services. But $9.5 million is excessive. That represents 16% of Te Puni Kokiri's total budget and 28% of its total personnel budget. In 2012 only $4.7 million was allocated to Te Puni Kokiri for "consultant's fees".

Michelle Hippolite, the CEO, explained to RNZ that she thinks Te Puni Kokiri "has the appropriate mix of staff and consultants" while officials told the Maori Affairs Select Committee that the consultant blowout was a result of "holding off from filling 56 jobs while a review of the department was carried out".

I'm not convinced that it's appropriate to leave 56 positions in limbo in any department, least of all a department that provides important administrative services and policy functions to several ministers, gives inter-agency advice and manages a number regional offices. Issues like Whanau Ora and the government's response to Wai 262 have also led to a significant increase in workload. 

Te Puni Kokiri's wanton outsourcing compromises efficiency and strategic capabilities. Existing and former staff have always been dedicated to Maori - and they've always done a good job - but management (appears) to be dragging the chain. Words like "efficiency" and "strategic capabilities" are derisory buzzwords, but they do affect Maori at the end of the line. An inefficient bureaucracy affects the services Maori receive. From Marae development to the Maori potential fund. Whanau Ora to Maori wardens. Why did we let this story escape our attention? 

1 comment:

  1. I think that "Strategic Capability" isn't a buzzword at all, and actually would suggest that you need to have FTE staff rather than consultants.

    Enrico, (someone who used to write Capability Management Plans..)



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