Search This Blog

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Open Government" but a tough task to track consultants

Tom Dusevic and the Australian Financial Review ( subscription only) did a great job in analysis in the Wednesday 18 February edition after digging out details of the $514 million in consultancies let by the Rudd Government in its first year in office. Dusevic and Verona Burgess, the Fin's Government Affairs writer today, both highlight how the high use of consultants at a time of across the board cuts in government operating costs continues to impact negatively on public service expertise and in-house research capability.

Up with the leaders in the big league of generalists are Boston Consulting ($18.68 million) and KPMG ($17.28m), with Booz and Company ($7.45m) and PricewaterhouseCoopers ($7.08m) also doing nicely. The Australian Government Solicitor ($9.51m) and Corrs Chambers Westgarth ($6.14m) were the top picks in the legal fraternity.

With a government committed to greater openness and transparency it shouldn't be as hard a job as Dusevic experienced to work out what is going on with our money- a fully searchable database and a big stick to enforce reporting would mean access to information on who is getting work from government, for what, is a breeze.

Here is Dusevic's take on the task:
"There is no systematic or centralised tracking of actual spending on consultancies across the federal sphere. To reach its spending estimates,the AFR analysed annual reports and government tender records,which have been vastly improved since September 2007. Through cross-referencing some 95 per cent of actual spending has been captured; the remaining 5 per cent covering dozens of small agencies has been extrapolated......Some consultancy contracts remain confidential. In a supposedly open era of government, details about many contracts are published several months after they begin, sometimes after they have expired, and often not at all. It makes monitoring consultancies an onerous job."

It shouldn't be.

No comments:

Post a Comment