States consultants spending doubles
STATES spending on consultants has doubled in the last year, it has been revealed.
Deputy Laurie Queripel submitted a series of questions on consultants to the Policy & Resources Committee in a bid to shed light on the issue.
P&R president Gavin St Pier confirmed that consultancy costs rose from £3.08m. in 2018 to £6.19m. last year.
The biggest cost was £2.46m. on scientific, research and technology consultancy. This was followed by £1.49m. for business consultants and £1.24m. on finance consultants.
The rest was spent on ICT consultants – £54,000 – and HR consultants – £460,000.
Deputy Queripel said it was important to demonstrate that consultants were good value for money.
Deputy St Pier said a procedure was followed.
‘All consulting engagements (subject to financial thresholds) are normally procured through a competitive process which outlines clearly the scope of work together with the objectives and outcomes and then appraises any responses from both a quality and cost perspective,’ he said.
‘Any such assignments will also have an officer identified as the contract owner whose responsibility is to manage the consultant and ensure the outcomes are delivered for the agreed costs.’
Deputy Queripel said there was a perception among the public that consultants were appointed too often, but Deputy St Pier said there was a policy document, which ensured they were only used when appropriate.
‘There are however many reasons and circumstances in which consultants are used and, for the most part, consultants are used only in circumstances where the States does not have the required skill, experience or capacity to perform the task,’ he said.
‘It is also worth noting that the use of consultants in certain circumstances helps prevent unnecessary creep on ongoing employment costs as we only engage them when their skill is required. This is particularly the case where a task may need to be performed infrequently and periodically, but it is not an
ongoing requirement that can justify employing someone full-time.’
Deputy Queripel said that with so many islanders with a wide range of knowledge, P&R should be looking closer to home for expertise.
Deputy St Pier responded, saying that through networks that exist among individuals across the civil service and, more broadly, those of deputies and industry based organisations, they were satisfied that, on the whole, P&R was able to reach and access existing knowledge, expertise and experience in many cases.
‘The States is in a fortunate position that many individuals based within the community proactively come forward and offer their services on various initiatives,’ he said.
‘In addition, our procurement policy states a preference to use local resource where possible and the evaluation criteria used does include a section which allows for benefit to the local economy to be assessed and scored.’