DA questions R3 billion Gauteng consultants bill

Glenda Steyn MPL

Spokesperson on Public Accounts

The DA in Gauteng demands renewed scrutiny for the massive R3.2 billion consultants’ bill for Gauteng departments and agencies for the past three financial years. This figure could be as high as R4.5 billion as many departments are yet to provide information for the 2012 / 2013 financial year.

The Star this morning outlines the spending spree on consultants by the various Gauteng government departments.

The biggest culprit are Gauteng Finance (R1.3 billion for the previous two financial years), the Gautrain Management Agency (R795 million) and Roads and Transport (R699.7 million).

The detailed breakdown by department and selected agencies can be accessed here, as sourced from recent replies to my questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature and the various departmental annual reports.

The DA in Gauteng believes that the large bill for consultants is indicative of a lack of capacity and adequate skills development and retention within the provincial government.

Earlier this year Deputy Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu called on government to “immediately implement stricter controls to get the best value for money for services provided by external consultants to the public sector.”

According to Makwetu inadequate planning, high turnover of employees in key positions, inadequate financial and performance management, and ineffective governance arrangements adversely affected the economical, effective and efficient use of consultants.

I will request that the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) conduct an investigation into the use of consultants by the provincial government and its entities.

I will also question Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane on the interventions her government has undertaken in support of the Auditor-General’s recommendations.

It is imperative that SCOPA probe irregularities in the use of consultants and determine whether the people of Gauteng are receiving value for their money. SCOPA must also investigate allegations that over-inflated costs of consultants result from friends and family potentially milking government in the guise of consultancy firms.

Consultants, while extremely beneficial when used effectively, must not be the first point of call for rendering public services. The provincial government must ensure it is adequately equipped and capacitated to fulfil its public mandate without needlessly passing the buck to external service providers.