Ratbag Bureaucrats Attempt to Stitch Up Len Brown

Len Brown and Stephen Town

Len Brown and Stephen Town

If Lame Duck Mayor Len Brown and his merry bunch of left-wing councillors had half a brain they would now be issuing a written warning to Chief Executive Stephen Town, and directing him to kick the well-padded arses of three troughing bureaucrats: Sue Tindal, Matthew Walker and John Bishop.

These ratbag bureaucrats conspired to write a report to the Council’s Finance and Performance Committee called “Alternative Sources of Financing – Feedback”. Knowing the chairperson (Penny Webster) is lovely but dead set useless, the bureaucrats spent half a million dollars of ratepayer’s money on two worthless reports from Ernst & Young and Cameron Partners.

Town and his officers know full well that Len Brown and the Labour councillors are too gutless to man up and sell public assets in election year to pay off the Council’s debts. The councillors are solely responsible for doubling the debt, hiking the rates and bankrupting Auckland. This is why half of them will be joining Len in retirement this time next year.

The politicians have missed Town’s real agenda: more power to the bureaucrats. Knowing asset sales are off the agenda, the bureaucrats are eyeing up more centralised powers (for themselves). Town and Tindal want total domination of HR, communications, ICT – and they are promising $15.2 million in savings if the half-witted politicians buy it.

This is classic Sir Humphrey stuff: obfuscation and manipulation.   

The problem for Town and Tindal is they have served up more useless advice to the hapless councillors. Ernst & Young’s very expensive report cited a failed central government case: the Central Agencies Shared Services (CASS) project. Ernst & Young claimed:

“Some of the achievements one year after CASS was initiated include:

  • Cost savings of over 10% p. a:
  • Risk reduction, including key person risk and ability to cope with peaks in demand: and
  • Improved capability and resilience of shared services”

Wise politicians would have checked that accuracy of that claim. And honest officers would have reported the Auditor-General’s 2014 investigation of CASS. Lyn Provost, probably the straightest-shooter in the public service declared CASS “… has not yet consistently provided serviced services at the level expected by service users”. Provost was not able to confirm whether estimates of financial savings were based on reasonable assumptions.

The Auditor-General has been all over this scheme from start, but the truth doesn’t seem to be allowed to get in the way of a good story. Here are five questions the politicians should now be asking Town and Tindal:

  1. Why did the officers withhold from the politicians the Auditor-General’s 2014 investigation and findings of the CASS project
  2. Why was $500,000 of ratepayer’s money spent on two reports from Ernst & Young and Cameron Partners when neither advised on the Auditor-General’s findings and at least one of the reports claimed cost-savings that the Auditor-General is on record as disputing?
  3. Which Auckland Council officers met with Ernst & Young to discuss its report on the CASS project; on what date(s) did meetings occur; and did Council officers direct Ernst & Young to exclude the Auditor-General’s findings from its report?
  4. If all HR, communications and ICT functions are transferred to Auckland Council’s senior management officers, who among that group will be demanding much higher salaries as a result?
  5. Who will be held accountable for overcooking promised cost-savings to the Mayor and councillors?


Auditor-General Report on CASS
EY report extract
Officers Report

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