24 September 2019

The Public Service has for the first time established a consistent, transparent method of measuring and reporting the use of contractors and consultants. 

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has discontinued the way agencies previously reported data on contractors and consultants, which was inconsistent.

The new method will more accurately show each year how much the Public Service is relying on contractors and consultants. It will measure the percentage of operating expenditure on contractors and consultants as a share of total Public Service workforce expenditure. The Commission will release the information annually. 

The Commission will also release the total dollar amount spent on contractors and consultants, operational and capital expenditure.

“This is a benchmark year,” said Mr Hughes. “There is now consistency in how public service departments are measuring and reporting to Select Committees. It is a more consistent and transparent way of measuring the use of contractors and consultants.”

The data(PDF, 146 KB), published today, covers the 2017/18 year, which pre-dates the Government’s announcement on reducing the reliance on contractors and consultants by six months. It also pre-dates the establishment of the new reporting method.

Applying the new method of reporting to the 2017/18 data, the share of spending on contractors and consultants as a percentage of spending on the Public Service workforce, is 13.3%. Internationally, there is no benchmark for the right size of contractor and consultancy expenditure. 

“It will take a couple of years to affect a downward trend as we re-balance the Public Service,” said Mr Hughes. 

“The aim is not to constrain legitimate contractor and consultant expenditure if it is appropriate to deliver value to New Zealand. The reality is that from time to time there is a need to respond to one-off events where contractors, not hiring new staff, is the best solution. What we are trying to achieve is to build more capability within the Public Service so we can reduce the reliance on external capability. That is a sensible approach but that will take time.”


Media queries: Grahame Armstrong 021 940 457 or grahame.armstrong@publicservice.govt.nz