The problems attached to over-use of consultants are becoming clearer. The experience in New South Wales accords with the national experience: dependency on consultants hollows out public sector capacity and leads to bad government decisions.
The NSW Government should reduce its use of consultants and have firmer rules for the consultants it does use.
NSW Parliament should consider limiting political donations from contractors, an order for papers for consultants reports and requiring consultants to appear before Estimates.
The Australia Institute’s submission makes the following recommendations:
- Oversight of the NSW Government’s use of consultants be strengthened.
- Include public sector capacity building in consultancy contracts.
- Improve data on the NSW Government’s use of consultants.
- Publish a clear and strict revolving door policy for public servants.
- The NSW Parliament issue a standing order for papers, for the production of consultant reports and advice.
- The NSW Parliament consider whether consulting firms could be called before Budget Estimates when they have taken government work.
- The NSW Government and Parliament review whether a ban on political donations and other contributions from big government contractors, including consulting firms, would be appropriate and, if so, how it might be implemented.