Ministry paid consultants to do basic tasks

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 10/01/2013

Relevant offers

Politics

Ron Mark new NZ First deputy Two new housing areas in south Auckland to provide 1800 homes Mental Health provider and Australian bank first to negotiate health contract Charles and Camilla to visit New Zealand Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee slates Breathe Urban Village More than one in five Auckland homes is being sold within two years Ron Mark the natural choice for NZ First deputy leader NZ Herald found in breach over ponytail gate article US Vice-President Joe Biden sends NZ an Independence Day message Charter school has budget surplus eight times the average state school

The besieged Ministry of Education is being questioned again as documents reveal it spent tens of thousands of dollars hiring consultants to do basic tasks.

Education Secretary Lesley Longstone announced in December that she was stepping down as the ministry faced criticism for its handling of the Christchurch school overhaul and Novopay debacle.

Now documents supplied as part of its 2011-12 financial review show it hired external consultants to conduct basic functions such as responding to Official Information Act (OIA) requests and writing speeches.

New Zealand Education Consultants was paid $49,707 between August 2011 and this month to help with the Kawerau School merger.

Sara Cunningham received $115 an hour to provide OIA ministerial support, Tammy Thompson $75 an hour as a ministerial writer and Caravel Group was paid $170 an hour to write business cases. Tuck Grye earned a total of $89,592 in the 2011-12 financial year for evaluating requests for information.

Labour MP Chris Hipkins said a department as big as the ministry should have people able to perform such basic functions.

The consultants were paid a lot of money for work the ministry "should be able to do for themselves".

"I think there are some questions to be asked about the way the Ministry of Education is performing."

A ministry spokeswoman said it did have the expertise, but the volume of work at different times meant external help was needed to meet statutory time frames.

"There are times when specialist skills are required for a short period of time."

That included project management or temporary events, she said.

Mr Hipkins said the Government's overall use of consultants was getting out of hand. "It's often a lot cheaper just to employ people to do work rather than bringing in expensive consultants."

The Government's cap on public servant numbers was promoting greater use of consultants, he said.

"That means it costs the taxpayer more to get the same outcome."

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content