Magazine article Public Finance

O'Donnell Demands Whitehall Weans Itself off Consultants

Magazine article Public Finance

O'Donnell Demands Whitehall Weans Itself off Consultants

Article excerpt

Whitehall departments have been told to slash spending on consultants after auditors criticised the government's £2bn bill for advice.

The head of the civil service. Sir Gus O'Donnell, has written to all departmental permanent secretaries, warning them that they should use external consultants only when their department does not have the necessary in-house expertise.

Cabinet Office sources this week confirmed that the strongly worded letter was sent to permanent secretaries on May 10. It states that the public sector was often a 'lax client' of consultants and that too many advisers are hired to do work that civil servants could perform.

A Cabinet Office source told Public Finance that O'Donnell's letter stressed consultants should be hired 'where there is an obvious need for specialist advice', such as with architects.

'But there is a need to refocus on value for money. There should not be a prior assumption that consultants are the best first choice for departments - it should be that. …

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