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'The Staffing Issue'!

Back to staffing numbers - I received the following from Laurna White at 12.10pm Friday:

Good Afternoon Bill, 

Following up again on your September 18 blog around employment figures. The figures provided to you are from our Annual Report and have passed the scrutiny of Audit New Zealand. 

As the employment figures you are quoting are contrary to the ones I have provided, could you please send the document to me so I can check it against our system. We would welcome the opportunity to clarify any differences. 



I replied as follows as 3pm Friday:

No problem Laurna

I attach the relevant document. – print dated on back – 5 August 2015. I have others, but this is the most revealing in my view.

For your information, I am deeply sceptical of the Audit NZ staff audit. My experience is that being non-financial, these are generally conducted in a cursory manner accepting information with which they are provided.   

That is why I have requested a full and verifiable staff, and severance payment audit by a national accounting firm that assumes nothing, and undertakes a full review of every category of employment.

Only in that manner will TCDC establish credibility. I say that because scepticism over employment figures goes back a very long way. This I know because when I queried them during 2007/10, no satisfactory explanation/breakdown was ever provided.  

Regards    Bill 

I attached a copy of the significant internal document that supports my contention regarding the increase in staff levels over the last 12 months in particular, and have received no reply. It remains to be seen just how they respond to having this document exposed - I expect that I will receive a reply that will either deny its existence in the Council data system, or else endeavour to once again 'fudge' the content that clearly shows a staff level of 248.35 FTE as at 5 August 2015.

I don't wish to make life difficult for Laurna - it is not her fault - she is simply the spokesperson; I do hold the entire senior executive of our Council responsible for having knowingly fed us false information over a long period of time, and failed to exercise the duty of care required of them.

Having provided the evidence sought by Laurna, to which there has been no response, it is surely time for Hammond to respond to my challenge for him to arrange to have a national accounting firm undertake a full investigation of staffing levels, and severance payment audit. I feel sure that most readers will agree that it long past the time when these anomalies should be subject to such an investigation.  

It is frankly pointless seeking such intervention by either the Auditor General or Ombudsman – our supposed ‘watch-dogs’ of local government. I still await an adequate response from either in regard to important issues raised in the past, and reported in posts on this blog.

I have no confidence that either are willing or able to undertake thorough and far reaching investigations, particularly if they are likely to show councils in a bad light. And often, the organisations assigned the task of overseeing local government dismiss claims of reported malfeasance as being relatively minor, and unworthy of their attention.

After all, who really concerns themselves about staff numbers? – politicians, that’s who, and staff are deeply conscious of their sensitivity to this issue, even if the Auditor General and Ombudsman are otherwise disposed in accordance with the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” syndrome.  



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