The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) CEO Carolyn Tremain has told Parliament her Ministry intends to "absorb" ICT-related functions where that is sustainable.
Tremain told the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee on 22 February that when she started at MBIE last July, she observed that contracting and consultancy expenditure was high.
"As my appreciation of MBIE’s responsibilities and work programmes grew, I better understood why this was," she said. "But we’ve been analysing the numbers and note that nearly 60 per cent of our contractors are working on projects – mostly in ICT."
Such investment helps MBIE boost its digital capabilities and to provide better services online, she said.
"Our pursuit of savings includes leveraging our scale in our various procurements, and working our ICT vendor relationships as hard as possible," she said.
Tremain said contractors and consultants are used for short-term demand or where specialist skills or independent advice are needed. They also provide necessary cover for inevitable long-term leave and when permanent recruitment is underway.
"I believe we can make savings here – and we are," she added. "Where sustainable, we aim to absorb ongoing ICT-related functions."
Tremain also acknowledged "complex issues" within MBIE's payroll system, which the Ministry is still working to address.
"Our commitment remains to resolve historic issues and remediate affected staff as soon as we can," she said.
"While we have 127 fewer contractors than we did last June, allowance is needed for some additional flex – so we can continue to take on responsibilities like the Pike River Recovery Agency and KiwiBuild, and when there are surges in demand for our services."
In November, MBIE went to market for robotic process automation software to improve the performance of its Immigration New Zealand contact centre.
The diverse Ministry supports 16 ministerial portfolios and 12 ministers.