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'Fattening the profits': Oranga Tamariki calls in consultants to help with job cuts

Author
Azaria Howell,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Apr 2024, 8:02am

'Fattening the profits': Oranga Tamariki calls in consultants to help with job cuts

Author
Azaria Howell,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Apr 2024, 8:02am

Oranga Tamariki has confirmed it is working with two consultancy agencies on its restructure and change proposal, which has 447 net jobs in the firing line.  

The proposal, being slammed by the Public Service Association (PSA), comes amid top-down calls to cut back dependency on the use of contractors and consultants across the sector.  

Other agencies have vowed to cut back their use of contractors and consultants in their cost-saving efforts, with many ministries also taking a closer look at travel expenses and catering - in response to the Government’s ask to find savings and efficiencies.  

In a statement, Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive of people, culture, and enabling services, Caz Anderson, confirmed the two consulting firms were providing the agency with “specialist independent organisational redesign advice” that was not available internally. 

The PSA fears the use of consulting firms would add extra costs to a proposal that aims to find efficiencies.  

In a statement, PSA national secretary Kerry Davies said, “the Minister for Children maintains the restructure at Oranga Tamariki is all about putting children at the centre of decision-making. It beggars belief that outside consultants, far removed from the expertise of care and protection of children and the challenges Oranga Tamariki manages every day, can develop a more effective structure for the agency.”  

“All this is doing is fattening the profits of high-price consultants and adding to the expense of this rushed and reckless cost-cutting drive. It’s just not appropriate, and flies in the face of the Government’s determination to crack down on spending on consultants,” Davies said.  

In the year to June, Oranga Tamariki spent $35.8 million on the use of contractors and consultants, according to data from the Public Service Commission. In the same period the year prior, the agency footed a $37.1m bill for contractor and consultant spending.  

Oranga Tamariki boss Chappie Te Kani had previously ackno wledged the proposal would be “a hard read” for those who are impacted. 

Te Kani said the change “goes to our core” as a ministry, adding, “It fundamentally moves us away from where we are, towards the kind of ministry we need to be. A ministry that puts children at the centre of all we do.” 

Recent job-cutting proposals at Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Education have come under fire for the predicted impacts they could have on vulnerable children, teachers and learners. 

Reacting to the plans to axe more than 1000 roles across various departments at both agencies combined, NZEI president Mark Potter said: “These cuts will all impact ultimately on teaching and learning in the classroom.” A similar sentiment was expressed by the Post-Primary Teachers’ Association, which also opposed the plans.  

Finance and Public Service Minister Nicola Willis recently confirmed to the Herald health, education, Oranga Tamariki, police and “other critical front-line services will face an overall funding uplift” in the upcoming Budget. 

Azaria Howell is a Wellington-based multimedia reporter with an eye across the region. She joined NZME in 2022 and has a keen interest in city council decisions, public service agency reform and transport. 

This article was originally published on the NZ Herald here. 

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