Saving Money the Hard Way $250,000 in consultants fees to tell Melbourne’s $400,000 CEO how the City could save money

Melbourne $400,000 dollars man spends $250,000.00 seeking advice on how to manage the City. (I thought that was why we were paying him such a hugh salary)

Clay Lucas of The Age exposes the extravagant waste of money consumed by Melbourne’s highest paid public servant.

David Pitchford’s contract was recently renewed by the City Council who whilst voting to extend his contract cut-back the term of his appointment which is normally for five years to just over two years.

Information and talk around the Town Hall is that David Pitsford is actively looking around for alternative employment but like that of his predecessor, Michael Malouf, he options are limited along with his management skills.

David Pitchford was also implicated in the Parking Fine affair that resulted in the State Ombudsman raiding the Council Offices in order to secure information on the cover-up of corruption in the Council’s administration. The City Council rewarded David Pitchford for his efforts by paying him a substantial performance (sic) bonus.

Council CEO forks out to save
Clay Lucas The Age April 25, 2007

VICTORIA’S highest-paid council officer has spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on management consultants — to tell him how to save money.

Melbourne City Council chief executive David Pitchford, who last month was reappointed on a salary of up to $396,000 a year for almost three years, has overseen a $300,000 cost-cutting report by consultants Ernst & Young.

Councillors said yesterday that cutting spending on child care was likely to be an area of focus for the consultants, who will release their report next week. Retrenching some of the council’s 1131 staff may also be considered in the wide-ranging cost review.

Councillors asked why so much had been spent on consultants and the time of the council’s senior directors (at least six of whom are on $200,000-plus salaries) to do a review for which the chief executive should have taken responsibility.

“He does not like to take tough decisions,” said Cr Peter Clarke. “He likes to have a report by someone else to fall back on.”

Mr Pitchford, rehired unanimously by the city’s nine councillors in March on a salary of $332,000 and an annual bonus of up to $66,000, wants Ernst & Young to find where savings can be made within council.

Their brief requires them to find savings in council spending, assess the “value for money” of council services and find ways of reducing labour costs.

The firm is also the council’s internal auditor, a contract worth $580,000 over three years.

The management experts are the latest in a string hired by Mr Pitchford to instruct him since he was manoeuvred into his position by Lord Mayor John So in September 2003.

In 2004, the council paid $45,000 for consultants to tell staff they should work according to a new acronym: ERIC, which stood for excellence, respect, integrity and courage.

The following year, Mr Pitchford paid Royce Public Relations $52,000 to recommend the council hire a new PR boss; they got media manager Hayden Cock for $220,000 a year.

During his own rehiring process in March, Mr Pitchford oversaw spending of $4000 on human resources consultants Mercer.

They came back with a report recommending that his annual salary should rise as high as $492,000, but that $410,000 was an acceptable midpoint. The council settled on $332,000.

Mr Pitchford was on leave yesterday, but council finance spokesman Brian Shanahan defended Mr Pitchford’s decision to commission the cost-cutting review.

“The common practice is to get independent reviews done to assist decision making,” he said.

But councillors would resist reducing spending on child care, regardless of the report’s findings. “There is no way we should pull back on our commitment to child care.”

If Ernst & Young does recommend reducing spending on child care, it could be a case of life imitating art: in the 2001 ABC TV show Grass Roots, the fictional chief executive of Arcadia Waters Council called for a consultant’s report to justify privatising child care.

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