The Cabinet Manual states that public service officials are responsible for “serving the aims and objectives of Ministers by developing and implementing policy and strategy” (Cabinet Manual, paragraph 3.11) and that “Ministers have a duty to give fair consideration and due weight to free and frank advice provided by the public service” (paragraph 3.10). The purpose of this section is to provide transparency for Cabinet decision-makers on when and why advisors from outside the public service have had, or will have, a substantive role in producing the advice that Ministers’ decisions are based upon.
The 'Use of External Consultants' section should be included in Cabinet papers used when external resources such as contractors or consultants are engaged and remunerated, and provide a material contribution to the preparation of the policy advice in the paper. This may include external resources being engaged to:
- provide thought or project leadership within the policy development process;
- undertake, manage, or assess consultation processes or outcomes;
- prepare, or support the preparation of, policy advice;
- undertake specialist or technical functions;
- provide any other input resulting in a material contribution to the development of the policy advice.
This section should include, as appropriate:
- an overview of the number of external resources engaged in the policy development process, and the length of time they were engaged;
- any requirement for external resources to further develop, implement or deliver the policy advice being presented;
- a brief description of the input (e.g.: policy analysis; specialist technical support; research support or information collation; administrative support; communications);
- clear justification for why the external resource was engaged (e.g. provision of specialist or technical advice not available within the agency, or additional surge support in times of particular urgency).
Further advice on using contractors and consultants in the public sector is published on the New Zealand Government Procurement website.
Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission has also published useful advice, including Public Service Contractor and Consultant Expenditure, and Guidance to Enable State Services Agencies to Consistently Measure and Report their Usage of Contractors and Consultants, outlines the expectations for agencies to measure and report on the use of external resource, and provides some useful definitions that may help to inform the advice in this section.