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Much cheaper to hire permanent city staff than use expensive consultants, report shows

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The City of Halifax could save millions of dollars if it were to expand its permanent staff rather than pay for expensive consultants. That is the conclusion of a business case developed by the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) division of the city acquired by the Nova Scotia Advocate through a Freedom of Information request.

Halifax City Hall, photo by Waye Mason, Wikipedia

External consultants, project managers, business analysts and solution architects, supporting the various projects managed by ICT are expensive. One year’s worth of an external business analysts costs the City approximately $260,000, whereas an in-house employee would probably only cost about $100,000, the report states.  

The report suggests that a $4.4 million would be saved  on project-related expenses over the next three years in a proposed scheme that sees 9 new permanent and 2 term positions created. The report also recommends the hiring of 2 additional business analysts to be absorbed by other business units after three years.

Five new ICT positions have been approved, but not yet filled, the City’s Auditor General reported in June.  

For many years project-related activity was low, and “keeping the lights on” did not require many resources, but over the last years that has changed, the report states, and reliance on external consultants has skyrocketed.

It’s not just a matter of saving of money, there are other benefits as well, the report suggests.

When an external business analyst leaves on completion of a project all the business-specific knowledge she has gained leaves with her. As well, “utilizing consultants leads to internal staff becoming disengaged due to lost career opportunities.”

Some consultants with specialized skill sets will still be hired externally, the report states.  

Savings could have been realized earlier. It has not been a matter of just “keeping the lights on” for a while now. In 2014-15 ICT spent $2.3 million on external consultants to do the work of what amounts to almost 20 full time employees. In 2015-16 that spending increased to a whopping $5.8 million, or the equivalent of almost 24 city staff.

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