TRACE THE CASH

Finweek English Edition - - Letters -

THE FACT that it is dif­fi­cult to as­sess ex­actly how much de­part­ments spend on con­sul­tants makes the jobs of politi­cians who are sup­posed to hold them to ac­count less straight­for­ward. The dif­fi­culty lies in the con­tra­dic­tory way in which th­ese fig­ures are re­ported. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a sin­gle def­i­ni­tion as to what con­sul­tancy spend­ing ac­tu­ally is. This was high­lighted in a PSAM re­search re­port com­piled by Dr Neil Overy, who con­cluded that this re­sulted in a mis­match be­tween trea­sury fig­ures and those in pro­vin­cial an­nual re­ports. For ex­am­ple, the na­tional de­part­ment of ed­u­ca­tion 2004/2005 an­nual re­port notes in its fi­nan­cial state­ments that it spent R29,4m on “con­sul­tants, con­trac­tors and spe­cial ser­vices”. But, the same re­port notes un­der “util­i­sa­tion of con­sul­tants” that it spent R87m.

“This fail­ure to re­port con­sis­tently and openly pre­vents over­sight bod­ies such as port­fo­lio com­mit­tees and the au­di­tor-gen­eral from know­ing how much each de­part­ment spends on con­sul­tants,” said Overy.

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