19 June 2007 | Paul Snell
The OGC has "no idea" if government spend on consultants justifies the cost, according to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
In a damning report published today, the PAC claims that neither government departments nor the OGC assess how much value for money consultants add, and consultants are often used despite there being expertise in the department.
The report follows a select committee hearing earlier this year, where the management of consultants by the civil service was branded a "disgrace" (News, 15 February). Total spend by government on consultants in 2005-06 was £2.8 billion.
Conservative MP Edward Leigh, PAC chairman, said: "It is impossible to believe the public are receiving anything like full value for money from this expenditure. A good proportion of it looks like sheer profligacy."
The report found up to 40 per cent of departments believed they had used consultants when they were not needed. Often they were used inappropriately, it said, and at worst to deflect blame if projects performed badly.
The PAC added it was difficult to verify all consultant costs, as expenses were often unclear and finance departments needed to be more vigilant when checking claims.
The committee also criticised the lack of skills transfer between consultants and departments. It said three out of five departments audited had not made more than "limited progress" in transferring skills, "which would reduce the need to rely on consultants use in the future".