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Ottawa hires $90,000-a-day firm for budget-trimming advice

Deloitte received $19.8 million contract to help government save money


 

The Harper Conservatives have decided to hire economic consultants to advise them on how to save money in Ottawa—and they’re paying them $90,000 a day. According to the Canadian Press, Deloitte, Inc. was hired on Aug. 15 to help the government with its austerity program. They received a $19.8 million contract to advise the Treasury Board headed by Conservative MP Tony Clement on how to balance the books in Ottawa by 2014. The contract runs until March 31, and includes an optional one-year extension. This summer, the government asked 20 “pre-qualified” consulting firms to bid on the work, foregoing the usual open-tendering process for such contracts. The results of the Clement’s committee’s findings will be included in next year’s budget.

Canadian Press

 

 


 
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Ottawa hires $90,000-a-day firm for budget-trimming advice

  1. How does this make any sense?

  2. This is why Tony doesn’t need a desk – he’s contracted out his job.

  3. I get the logic of spending $20 million to make sure that the right $4 billion is cut.  BUT . . .

    1)  If they don’t know what $4 billion needs to be cut already, how do they know they need to cut that amount?  Did someone just pull the number out of their hat/other location?

    2)  We do have such a thing as the auditor general’s office.  What can an outside accounting firm (even if they call themselves “experts” or “consultants”) do that isn’t already being done?  Has government accountability become that bad over the last few years?  Does the Conservative core still believe the AG’s office is just a branch of the Liberal party?

    3)  What expertise does Deloitte Inc. have in running a government?  Do they have ANY expertise in cost-cutting that DOESN’T involve outsourcing white-collar jobs to India?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Good points, though I think the answers are obvious:

      1) Yes.
      2) Yes.
      3) Who cares? It’s just a way to pass the buck anyways and hand some friends a lucrative contract.

      It is interesting, as you note, that they chose how much to cut before determining how much could be cut.

    • 1) Because that’s what they said in their campaign. Yes.

      2) Tony Clement’s job. Yes. No, they believe the AG does not have a right-wing viewpoint, which while it seems almost the same thing, it’s the difference that the firms had to be “pre-qualified” under.

      3) None. No, but that’s intentional.

    • The point is they are an “independant” consulting firm.  They can talk to front-line workers and get their input on how things can be more streamlined and more efficiently run.  I don’t know if you have ever worked in public service but I can tell you, people don’t often talk to the front-line staff and if you saw the article about the military, you know that there are often more people in management in public service then there are workers “on the ground.”  The managers tend to go to copious meetings where nothing is seemingly ever accomplished and there is never enough staff to do the actual “grunt work.”  Yet, who would be the change agent?  Certainly not someone in the endless levels of management and no one pays attention to the frontline….so hiring an independant consulting firm that will do just that is a good plan.

    • I just heard from a former partner of Deloitte that they are good at reducing former partners’ pensions (due to some calculation of former partners to current partners–seems they are surprised to have more formers, i.e., retired–something that doesn’t bode well for their expertise in cost cutting!)  So he’s pleased, because with an extra 19.8 million, he’s expecting to be paid!  However, he does feel he could have done it for less.

  4. Here’s my #1 suggeston:  Stop Hiring Over-Priced Consultants!!!!!!  
    After that, try talking to the people in the civil service who have more expertice in their area than any consultant ever will.  Then talk to the Auditor General. 
    $90,000 per day – that is both insane & emblematic of what is wrong with government today

    • Yes, I’m certain a career civil servant is going to say “my job is redundant and my department is inefficient, you should just lay me off.” 

  5. I for one will be extremely disappointed if this does not lead to a proposal for a giant Ottawa Ferris Wheel.  

    • Actually, the peace tower was supposed to be a ferris wheel, but they contracted the design to an outside consultant.

  6. As someone who has worked MANY years in the public service, I think this is a brilliant idea.  Everyone knows or at least they should that the private sector does a better job of running a business.  I am sure these consultants will find many places to trim fat that won’t even be missed….ie. through voluntary retirement programs, etc.  Now, if they would just hire some consultants to take a look at the healthcare system….maybe we would get more front-line staff and less middle management.

      • You are going to dispute that the private sector thrives by pointing out a handful of companies that have been poorly & in some cases, corruptly run and have gone bankrupt?  Then what do I do, point out Fortune 500 companies that are well run and are thriving…..
        Why don’t you instead, point out to me, why consultants who specialize in streamlining businesses cannot do that for the public sector?

        • Oh there are certainly companies that are thriving….and they get massive amounts of govt help to do so. Plus, of course, they cut corners.

          Since our govt already has an Auditor General….and years of reports stacked up….Flaherty could start there.

          • ….and sometimes Emily those companies are just efficient!  You are driving a Hyundai…are they cutting corners or could it be that they aren’t paying their employees $80.00/hr in wages & benefits like GM & Chrysler are to produce an inferior product?
            Why don’t you check on the 50 socially responsible companies here on Macleans online and then tell us which are “getting massive amounts of governemnt help ‘plus of course, cutting corners”
            You are pretty naive if you don’t think “corner cutting” is happening in the public sector.  Just because things are done expensively, doesn’t mean they are done well.  Check out the cleanliness of some of the public buildings.  The truth is that inefficiency costs money.

          • And sometimes they’re just cutting corners.

            You can’t run govt like a business in any case….we could do lots of ‘efficient’ things in govt…but people wouldn’t stand for it

          • The point being, healthcareinsider, that we already have a cost-cutting, independent expert.  Who could do it for, essentially, free because we are paying that department anyway.

          • Emily,
            “we could do lots of ‘efficient’ things in govt…but people wouldn’t stand for it”
            That is the most hilarious thing I have ever read but you just might be right!

          • Of course I am.

  7. I can show them how to cut $50 billion and more and I can do it in half a day for much less pay

    • Well, let’s hear some of your ideas.

  8. What do we hire MPs, PMs and Government Bureaucrats to do? Surely it is to solve problems and not to hire consultants to solve the problems. If that is the case we don’t need the MPs, etc.

    How do these “consultants” become expert enough to know what should or should not be eliminated in the DND for example? So the winners will be the departments that can BS the “consultants”. In some departments their very existence has been their ability to BS their value to the public! They will continue to work their magic on the “consultants”.

    • Some of the MPs are farmers from Saskatchewan & bartenders from Quebec.  Exactly what are their credentials for streamlining public service?  The most intelligent thing they can do is to accept that they have limitations and hire consultants who have expertise.
      Those consultants with then consult with the frontline people in the DND, not necessarily with the paper-pushers who have their own agendas and their own reasons for wanting the status quo to continue.  If you don’t hire independant consultants, you never find out what is happening “on the ground”, all you get is the prospectives of a bunch of managers jockeying for power.

      • Are you saying that the people we elected to manage our country cannot be trusted or are incapable of making important responsible decisions. Sad commentary. hopefully you are wrong!

        • Well, they made the decision to hire some consultants to help them identify places where they can save money.  I personally think it is a smart move. 
          To maintain the status quo and make no cuts would be stupid and to blindly start making cuts that in the long term are egregious would not be good either.
          I am not sure who you think we have elected into public service.  The Liberals typically run a bunch of lawyers.  What do they know about “managing a country?”  The Conservatives and NDP have a whole range of representatives with differing backgrounds.  Yes, you can count on the career civil servants but they have worked in an inefficient system for their entire career.  You think they will suddenly start changing the way things are done?
           Public service is a huge bureacracy and there are many conflict of interests among govt bureaucrats.  Did you read the article about there being more administrators than soldiers in the Canadian military?   Already there are countless different opinions among those administrators and a past General  about what needs to be done.  Whose opinion to you listen to? Who has nothing to gain?  Who is not a stakeholder?  You hire an independant consultant who will talk to the men and women on the ground and find out what they think needs to be done because afterall, they are carrying the heavy load and getting paid the least amount of money.  You do the same with an administration heavy public service/government.  You don’t ask the administrators, they won’t be honest, the little guys carrying the heavy loads, making the least amount of money will tell you what needs to be done.

          • If you are right then we should just fire all our MPs and have a consulting firm running the country. 

            I don’t happen to agree with your assessment of the capabilities or veracity of our government officials. In that regard, the study that Gen Leslie has just presented on DND has much merit. Sure there are disagreements. Surely it is not to much to ask of our current crop of MPs to sort that out and implement the recommendations.

            There is no doubt in my mind that similar papers on every government department could be produced by knowledgeable and honest people from which efficiencies could be achieved. 

          • The consultants are gathering the information and making recommendations.  You are suggesting the MP’s should do the job without having an independant body gather the information and make recommendations.
            You are so right….General Leslie made a recommendation; General Hillier said the recommendation was not a good one – who is correct? 
             You are right – it is not too much to ask that our current crop of MPs sort it out…how do they do that…they get information from sources that don’t have a direct stake in how things pan out. 
            I am glad you believe that the status quo will somehow majically produce some fundamental change.  The fact that this has never happened would suggest you might be a little naive.  As I said earlier, people don’t often admit that their jobs are redundant or that they work inefficiently – especially those who are making a lot of money. 
            The only time fundamental change has happened has been when someone like former Alberta premier Ralph Klein came in and slashed pubic spending across the board.  The healthcare system there never did recover.

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