Outsourcing can be a sticky issue, particularly when it involves government. Which explains why the Ontario NDP launched an attack this week on the Liberal government’s spending on IT consultants.

Catherine Fife
Catherine Fife

According to CBC, party finance critic Catherine Fife complained the province is spending $700 million a year on outside help.

The province has $130-million worth of fee-for-service deals with nearly 1,500 IT consultants, the CBC quoted her as saying, and another $570-million in contracts with large tech companies, on top of its own staff of 3,600 IT professionals.

“Many of these private IT contractors perform the same tasks as the IT staff currently employed directly by the government, except they cost two to three times more,” Fife, who represents Kitchener-Waterloo, told the legislature.

“Significantly reducing private outsourcing of IT could save this government $200-million. It’s almost like you are willfully wasting money.”

The CBC said Finance Minister Charles Sousa replied the province is trying to reduce its use of the private sector, but needs it “for short-term and non-reoccurring projects like a one-time contract to get new programs up and running for cyber security upgrades,” and for outside expertise.

“We’re living in the Internet age and Ontarians expect their government to be accessible digitally,” he was quoted as saying. “We have a strong record of reducing the use of consultants across the government” Sousa also said that since the Liberals were first elected in 2003, more than 1,500 IT consultant positions were converted to OPS staff jobs, resulting in ongoing savings of about $60 million a year.