The cost of outsourcing Government

A few people from the ruling class get paid handsomely for their expertise in helping the Government make decisions, but many people wait and struggle.

It’s important that any Government reach out and utilise the expertise of non-elected people. However it is fair to question the amount they do this, and the amount they spend on it.

It’s well known that the current Government was not well prepared to take over, despite spending nine years in Opposition (in which time the did a number of inquiries/investigations).

It’s also well known that they have set up many reviews, working groups, inquiries, teams, committees and whatever else they call them. It will be some time before we can judge whether the cost is justified.

There are various claims about the cost of outsourcing Government decisions.

Andrea Vance – Outsourcing Government: The $55m cost of reviews

A bumper number of Government working groups, reviews and inquiries has a $55m price tag – with some consultants raking in $1400 a day.

An analysis by Stuff puts the number of reviews at 31, with 10 inquiries, and 27 working groups.

In Opposition National has a more liberal interpretation.

The National Party puts the cost even higher – with a $114m price tag for 122 working groups and 45 reviews. Leader Simon Bridges said that’s bringing about “a slow death by consultants.”

His party’s costing, released on Thursday, includes the establishment of government departments like the Pike River Recovery Agency and the Social Investment Agency, and reviews that are required by legislation or enacted by the previous government.

Of course the Government PR plays the other way:

The Government has pushed back, saying it counts 38 reviews. Of those, 29 are costed with a $34m price tag. They say that in the long-run, it works out at four cents for every $100 of government spending.

Their $34m claim doesn’t include all of their ‘reviews’. Their ‘four cents’ claim is meaningless.

When homelessness and poverty are constantly in the news the amount paid to those co-opted onto the many committees looks obscene:

Former Ombudsman Ron Paterson will earn $1400 a day chairing an inquiry into mental health and addiction.

Retired Supreme Court Judge Sir Terence Arnold will get the same for leading the year-long inquiry into controversial Afghanistan military Operation Burnham.

Former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer will net a $1300-a day fee for the inquiry into Defence Force actions.

Ex-Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand will be paid $1400 for each day he works chairing the Royal Commission into State Care abuse.

Ex- Labour Finance Minister Michael Cullen is getting a daily $1062 fee for heading up the Tax Working Group.

And Helen Clark’s former chief of staff Heather Simpson will get the same for leading a review into the health and disability system.

Many struggling New Zealanders wil barely be getting that sort of money per month.

And most of the above members of the ruling class will also be getting Government superannuation.

Ardern said there was a lot for her Government to fix.

“These aren’t things are being done because everything is fine. Where we have decided to take a second look, it’s because something isn’t working.”

The Government made quick decisions on some things – like the $billions committed to fee free tertiary education where it is debatable that anything has been fixed, and the $billions committed to regional handouts with a rush to dish out the dosh.

But many people in real need have to wait on a review or inquiry, and some will have to wait on the election in 2020 and then help is still in doubt.

The cost of outsourcing Government isn’t just in monetary terms, it is a cost to the quality of life for many of us.