Brisbane council spent $100 million on professional services

20 December 2020 2 min. read

Brisbane’s council has spent almost $100 million on professional services companies in the financial year, raising the eyebrows of a number of opposition parties. 

Figures released by Brisbane City Council in response to a question on notice from Labor show that in 2019-20, the council splashed out more than $97 million in contracts to more than 50 companies in the professional services arena. The lagrets chuck of the sum went to staffing companies that help the council with filling in temporary or peak talent gaps. 

Randstad was the largest beneficiary, racking in $31.8 million, followed by Peoplebank, paid $16.5 million, and Hays, paid $15.4 million. Talent International received $5.9 million for its services, Robert Walters was paid $3.2 million, Michael Page bagged $2.4 million, while Rexco People billed $1.8 million for its services.

Brisbane council spent $100 million on professional services

In comparison, similar figures released last year show that during the 2017-18 financial year, Brisbane’s council awarded $44 million in contracts to staffing agencies. Notably, figures for the intermediary year, 2018-19, were not released. 

The remaining fees of the $97 million total went to consultants specialised in organisational change, redundancy transition or digital transformation. According to Adam Allan, the Council's finance and administration committee chairman, the money was spent on “short-term contracts” that help the council keep its services to people and businesses running.

Some of the beneficiaries include People and Performance Consulting, Brisbane-based corporate culture consultants Inspyr, lean six sigma specialist Efficiency Works, change consultancy Trevor-Roberts, and talent and leadership consultancy Lee Hecht Harrison. 

“These contractual arrangements allow council to deliver a broader scope of services and is the most economically viable option to meet the demands of operating Australia’s largest local government and ensuring the best value for ratepayers,” he said, adding “this is used, for example, when there is no suitably skilled or available internal staff, or for short-term project work where the creation of a permanent position would be unsuitable.”

But according to Opposition leaders, the money could have been better spent. Opposition leader Jared Cassidy said that if more was done in-house, ratepayers could save millions. “That money could then be used on basic community services, like reinstating kerbside collection,” he said. “The lord mayor has some serious explaining to do about this ridiculously large HR spend.”