Friday, December 20, 2013

History repeats at TPK

Back in the 90's, a National government slashed public services to the bone, eroding core capability. But the same work needed to be done, and so departments were forced to hire expensive outside consultants (often the same people they'd just been forced to lay off) to provide the core services they could no longer do in-house, at a vastly inflated price.

Fast forward twenty years. Another National government, more public service cuts - and the same pattern of departments paying more to get consultants to do the things they used to do themselves. Today's example is Te Puni Kokiri, whose latest financial review reveals it spending over $9.5 million on consultants and contractors, while its staff are 15% below minimum levels. And those contractors aren't just doing work normally outsourced to the private sector, like trawling through people's hotel bills or conducting witch-trials in search of leakers - they're doing administration and policy advice, both core departmental functions. They're even providing "strategic leadership" - a service we already pay TPK's CEO around $400,000 to provide.

Its a perfect example of how public service cuts and arbitrary staffing caps don't save money, but instead shift spending into private pockets. Which is probably why National loves them so much.

(The full list of TPK's external contracts is here. "Tax advice" and Matthew Hooten FFS?)