A detailed analysis of the latest Auditor General’s Report revealed the Rann Government was spending at least $200 million per year on consultants, contractors and agency staff.
“Total claimed consultancy costs for 2008-09 were $27 million and contractor/agency staff costs were $145 million,” Shadow Minister for Finance Rob Lucas said today.
“However, the real costs will be much higher as some consultant and contractor costs are included in other budget expenditure lines, such as “grants.” These numbers also do not include any component of DTEI’s $263 million per annum spent on bus and rail contracts and major infrastructure maintenance contracts. Similarly, no component of the $46 million per annum spent by Forestry SA on harvesting and transporting of timber contracts is included.
“This is just another example of the massive wastage of expenditure by the Rann Government and another clear demonstration that Treasurer Foley has lost control of managing the state’s budget.
“What is even worse is that an increasingly arrogant Rann Government has embarked on a deliberate strategy of reducing public accountability by simply reclassifying some consultants as contractors.”
For example, DTEI’s CEO Jim Hallion in evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee confirmed the reason why DTEI reported only five consultants in 2006-07 was because many consultants had just been reclassified as contractors.
Mr Hallion: “…I can tell you for 2006-07 our actual consulting expenditure is about $805,000 which is about 0.05 per cent of our total turnover.”
Mr Lucas: “That is because all of these consultants are called contractors.”
Mr Hallion: “That is correct….”
(Budget and Finance Committee, Hansard, 15-Oct-2007)
“Further evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee has confirmed that many agencies are adopting similar tactics,” he said.
“The reason for this strategy is that Rann Government guidelines do not require any details of contractors such as name and value of contract to be included in the department’s annual report.
“Whilst the Rann Government claims some details are provided on the Tenders SA website, some departments do not comply with the policy and the details are removed after a limited period. This makes it impossible to conduct searches of past contracts or contractor costs.”
Additionally, in 2002 the Rann Government issued a new directive (DPC Circular PC013), which said:
“The details of expenditure relating to individual consultancies no longer needs to be reported…..”
“This means a department may have spent $700,000 on a consultant, but they only need to report in their annual report that “more than $50,000” was spent,” Mr Lucas said.
“The Rann Government’s promises about openness and accountability have again been exposed as a fraud.”
After all, it was Mr Rann who said in his 2002 Plan for Honesty in Government:
“We will lift standards of honesty, accountability and transparency in Government.”
“Secrecy can provide the cover behind which waste, wrong priorities, dishonesty and serious abuse of public office may occur.”
“A good Government does not fear scrutiny or openness.”