PEF: State Health Department bingeing on high-cost consultants; Union calls on NYS Senate to pass bill to control wasteful spending
ALBANY – State taxpayers are losing money every day the state continues to rely on high-priced consultants to do work that state employees can do for less.
The NYS Public Employees Federation (PEF), released today a new study showing the state Health Department could save $41.7 million this year if it just cut its reliance on private consultants by half.
PEF is pressing the New York State Senate to pass a bill that would require state agencies to forgo hiring private consultants if state employees can do the work for less.
“The state Assembly has passed this bill (A5128-B/S3093-A), and we urge Sen. Majority Leader Dean Skelos to bring it to the floor for a vote in that house before the session ends in a couple of weeks,” said PEF President Ken Brynien.
“State leaders say they want to reduce state waste and control expenses, but records show the state Health Department is becoming increasingly dependent on costly consultants while it steadily reduces the ranks of its more economical state employees,” Brynien said.
PEF found DOH’s spending on its own workforce dropped by 13 percent from fiscal year 2009-10 to FY 2011-12, but its spending for consultants went up by 28 percent in that same two-year span.
Those two years were no anomaly. Since FY 2006-07, the DOH has larded on 93 percent more consultants and cut its own workforce by 12 percent.
“If you think of the dollars as calories, the DOH has gone on a fast-food binge, and it’s overdue for an ‘extreme makeover,’” Brynien said.
Consultants cost DOH an average of $72.05 per hour and that’s 36 percent more than the department’s own employees who do the same kinds of work for an average of $53.07 per hour and that includes the cost of their benefits and pensions.
If you compare specific cases, the evidence can get even more dramatic. DOH is paying $122 per hour for the services of an information-technology consultant, compared to just $53.39 per hour for its own IT specialists.
This PEF report on consultant spending at the DOH is the fifth such report released in recent weeks by the labor union, which represents nearly 54,000 professional, scientific and technical employees of the state, including more than 3,000 at DOH.
PEF has found state agencies waste more than $300 million annually by hiring private consultants to do work that could be done as well and more economically by state employees.