The Dim-Post

April 9, 2014

Furthermore . . .

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:06 am

Via the Dom-Post today:

Wellington is home to more public servants than at any time since at least 2000 – and the capital has the greatest share of the bureaucracy since National took office in 2008.

Although National pledged and then made efforts to reduce “core” public servants in favour of “frontline” workers, the number of fulltime public servants based in Wellington rose by more than 900 in the year to June 30, 2013, to 18,493.

It is the largest number since at least 2000, and probably since major state service reforms of the 1980s.

Figures from the State Services Commission show that the number of public servants grew by 1155 to 44,500 in the year to June 30, with the vast majority of new positions in Wellington.

Now I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Modern states are complicated and you need a lot of people to run them properly. But it is kind of surprising since National spent their entire time in opposition screaming and clawing at their eyes about the number of public servants, and dour, prudent Bill English spent his last six years in government with a serious expression on his face explaining that he was being sensible and getting tough and cracking down on the public service who needed to tighten their belts and do more with less and actually that was all just bullshit too.

The other point I’d add to my previous post is that it kind of surprised me to learn that National had borrowed $50 billion. I knew it was a lot but didn’t know the exact number. And I’m pretty sure that if a Labour government had borrowed $50 billion dollars I’d have known all about it, because Key and English would have been on TV every night for the past four months bellowing about Labour destroying our economy and dooming generations of unborn kiwi children to slavery by borrowing $50 billion dollars, while the Herald and NBR would all be publishing their print editions in red ink to symbolise Labour’s irresponsible debt and the life-blood of the country that they’d gutted with their insane borrowing. Instead its just cicadas chirping and the only mention of the figure that I’ve seen was a Green MP’s twitter feed.

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60 Comments »

  1. On the $50bn, perhaps it’s not a major story because the Nats have endlessly bemoaned having to borrow large sums.

    On the public servants, two points. Does this mean the repeated scare stories from the opposition parties and the PSA were horseshit all along? Secondly, The story notes the national net loss in public servants is 800, so Wellington gains and the rest of the country loses. I suspect both the Opposition parties and the PSA would regard a net loss of that size as close to confirmation of the coming of the public sector apocalypse.

    Finally, this post suggests you outsourcing the Dim Post to Clint again.

    Comment by Roger — April 9, 2014 @ 9:17 am

  2. Re-centralisation of public service in Welli is the underlying story. Quite the opposite of the freedom/deregulation myth.

    Comment by Sacha — April 9, 2014 @ 9:27 am

  3. I have one story of National not acting true to their image.

    I’m not sure of other universities but at The University of Auckland there’s been a marked increase in resources going to the bureacracy such as IT to the detriment of teaching and research.

    More expensive managers buying unnecessaryly expensive equipment while academics are being expected to a lot more with a lot less.

    I’ve been surprised National lets this happen.

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  4. Academics should make do with chalk and slate and stop whining.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 9, 2014 @ 10:29 am

  5. I think most would prefer Blackboard over CECIL.

    CECIL being the complete dog of an on-learning programme that several high level ITS managers made quite a bit of money off from selling to the university.

    CECIL has just been axed but those managers are still there with their large salaries and new business schemes.

    Comment by NeilM — April 9, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  6. National has endlessly bemoaned having to borrow $50 Bn?

    Well they wouldn’t have had to borrow it if they hadn’t done the stupid tax cuts in the aftermath of the GFC.

    Comment by trev — April 9, 2014 @ 11:10 am

  7. I have one story of National not acting true to their image.

    I’m not sure of other universities but at The University of Auckland there’s been a marked increase in resources going to the bureacracy such as IT to the detriment of teaching and research.

    To rephrase Danyl’s point: “Modern [universities] are complicated and you need a lot of people [and expensive IT] to run them properly.” We’re spending enormous sums on IT and the accompanying staff that weren’t spent 20 years ago, but there’s not a lot to be done about it.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 9, 2014 @ 11:18 am

  8. But an ITS that sets up cosy little business deals to line thief own pockets and has a ridiculous number of expensive management levels isn’t doing academics any good.

    It’s the sort of issue one would expect a centre-right govt and a competent opposition to rip into.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 9, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

  9. Oops, “line” their own pockets.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 9, 2014 @ 12:12 pm

  10. Roger wrote: “this post suggests you outsourcing the Dim Post to Clint again”

    Clint Shmint. Danyl’s wife is Clint’s boss. And the person who’s really in charge is this General Spagnolo guy, who is Danyl’s wife’s boss. see the fourth paragraph of this article

    Comment by kahikatea — April 9, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

  11. “When questioned, General Spagnolo denied that he was preparing to lead an army of emerald stormtroopers cloned in the dungeon of Metiria Turei’s castle. Unprompted, he also denied that he was planning to lead a posse of pounamu plurimorphs bred by Jon Field in the basement of 17 Garrett St, Wellington. When asked what a ‘pounamu plurimorph’ even was, he denied having the slightest idea.”

    Comment by kahikatea — April 9, 2014 @ 1:05 pm

  12. Modern states are complicated and you need a lot of people to run them properly.

    This seems to be a core assumption – perhaps the core assumption – of the modern Left in defending the status quo of state institutions and arguing for more, but does it really hold up any longer?

    When I look around at everyday society I see increasing numbers of people moving away from letting other people manage their lives, even as the world becomes more complex. The relatively trivial examples of people using their tablets and smart phones to watch and listen to what they want, when they want, away from the Top 100 DJ hits and the Broadcast TV nightly lineup of shows, is just the leading edge of self-management. Similarly with the way traditional private sector companies are being eviscerated by the Web in getting products and services supplied and delivered.

    In short, the information technology revolution – and possibly soon the biotech revolution and 3D printing – appears to be empowering people to cope with this increasing complexity. Why would such people not ask the same questions of the State that they have asked of Borders and TVNZ: why do I need you and what are you doing for me that I cannot do myself?

    Comment by Tom Hunter — April 9, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

  13. Clint Shmint. Danyl’s wife is Clint’s boss.

    Not any more! Clint jumped ship to Labour on Friday.

    Comment by danylmc — April 9, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

  14. Not any more! Clint jumped ship to Labour on Friday.

    This is good for Gareth Hughes.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 9, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

  15. In short, the information technology revolution – and possibly soon the biotech revolution and 3D printing – appears to be empowering people to cope with this increasing complexity.

    Here an example from The University of Auckland.

    More people these days use the internet to arrange travel. It’s often more convenient and cheaper.

    The university in its wisdom has done away with for academics booking university funded travel. There is now a single provider everyone must use.

    As a result academics miss out on cheap deals, have to spend more time and full in more forms to get the travel arrangements made and find it harder generally to do that.

    On the other hand the university pays people to administer this and to police the policy to make sure academics toe the line.

    It’s a shift of resources from where they should be to where they shouldn’t.

    Again, it’s something National should put a stop to but hasn’t and something Shane Jones could get stuck into had he not been muzzled by Cunliffe who’s more preoccupied by the royal tour.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 9, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

  16. tom hunter –

    problem is tom – your describing user driven systems where the users choice has little to no impact one anyone else – great for ordering pizza, buying clothes or selecting a movie

    not so great when your trying to get an efficient society operating where there are differing opinions on both means and ends, that impact everyone and theres competition for resources within a constrained budget

    I wouldnt make the assumption that web 2.0 (or whatever were up to now) has removed the “organiser” – sure your making choices, but someones already made them for you further up the chain – usually a whole army of people across multiple inter connected companies that all did lots and lots of little jobs in order for your netflicks or whatever to both function and have content to watch

    in short your describing a selection system – not an operation system.

    Comment by framu — April 9, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

  17. More people these days use the internet to arrange travel. It’s often more convenient and cheaper.

    The university in its wisdom has done away with for academics booking university funded travel. There is now a single provider everyone must use.

    This is not unique to Auckland … makes no sense at all.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 9, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

  18. Not any more! Clint jumped ship to Labour on Friday.

    Splitter! SPLITTER!!!!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 9, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

  19. The university in its wisdom has done away with for academics booking university funded travel. There is now a single provider everyone must use.

    Yep, same at mine. It says a lot that what’s convenient for the finance and admin sections of the university now counts way ahead of what’s convenient for the people actually doing the teaching and research.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 9, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

  20. Why would such people not ask the same questions of the State that they have asked of Borders and TVNZ: why do I need you and what are you doing for me that I cannot do myself?

    For instance, there was that chap who set himself up as an issuer of passports a while back, and a number of people chose to buy their passports from him rather than from the hordes of Wellington bureaucrats who annoy Jordan Williams so much. So much opportunity for the private sector to offer choice to the consumer…

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 9, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

  21. not so great when your trying to get an efficient society operating where there are differing opinions on both means and ends, that impact everyone and theres competition for resources within a constrained budge

    Sounds like a marketplace to me, and when it comes to competition for resources the last thing I need is a bunch of genius State planners and coordinators doling the stuff out. I thought you were going to get stuck into things like law, regulations and so forth. Obviously I need the State to make sure those are enforced justly and I might even have a chance to influence them via elections?

    The whole thing about a selection system vs. an operation system seems like a distinction without a difference. Although I can certainly see that from the planner’s perspective it looks that way; they’ve done all the hard work and I just have to select. But my selection – combined with that of millions of others – is just as much a part of the planning process as any coordinator, perhaps more so in a capitalist system.

    Besides that, the whole point is that there are indeed many coordinators split across many entities that help bring me my choices, and they represent many differing opinions about means and ends. The implication of your argument is that all that can be done within the single system of the State. I don’t think it ever really could be, even in simpler days, and with the world growing more complex, even less so today. The exact opposite of Danyl’s assumption in other words.

    But I don’t want to get too hung up on philosophical debate on this when I can boil it down to a simple question relevant to the here and now: what are all these government bureaucrats really doing for me and why do I need more of them? If the answer is that there have to be more rules and regulations (to cope with the ever-growing complexity …..) then Public Choice Theory tells me what’s going on and why, but I don’t think any Left winger wants to use that as the justification!

    Comment by Tom Hunter — April 9, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

  22. Well done Pyscho. You set up a straw man and then burnt him down all by yourself, with no need for further help from me.

    Fabulous!

    Comment by Tom Hunter — April 9, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

  23. yeah yeah Tom. So how come the National govt has completely failed to find all these hordes of time wasting busy bodies then?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 9, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

  24. It might not tell a different story, but surely the relevant metric is bureaucrats as a % of the population, not bureaucrats as an absolute number?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 9, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

  25. “The university in its wisdom has done away with for academics booking university funded travel. There is now a single provider everyone must use.

    This is not unique to Auckland … makes no sense at all”
    Managerialism is all through the university sector (and many others, eg Health.) Its buzz words are efficiency, transparency, measurable gains and always ‘doing more for less’. Every value boils down to n$. Looked at sideways, it’s fundamentally about institutions being run for the benefit of managers- so they meet their KPIs. It’s enormously inefficient and burns goodwill like an pyromaniac on Guy Fawkes. One of the driving forces is central control – lack of trust in employees is almost a given. It’s doing untold damage.
    I have no idea why, Neil M, you’d think this would be anathema to this National Govt. Managerialism is the natural breeding ground of the Stephen Joyces of the world. It’s a direct parent of National Standards for primary schools. It’s fundamental to how they think. Everything is a corporation. Brought to you by the boardroom of NZ Inc.

    Comment by Robinson Stowell — April 9, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

  26. Managerialism is all through the university sector (and many others, eg Health.) Its buzz words are efficiency, transparency, measurable gains and always ‘doing more for less’. Every value boils down to n$.

    Except, not. Not infrequently, the amount charged by the travel agent for me to fly to conferences, etc is more than the amount it would cost if I were allowed to do the bookings for myself over the internet. So the mandated system required by the manager actually ends up in me doing what I do for more.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 9, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

  27. So how come the National govt has completely failed to find all these hordes of time wasting busy bodies then?

    I’ll take “utterly useless bastards” for a $100.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — April 9, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

  28. “So the mandated system required by the manager actually ends up in me doing what I do for more.”
    Totally. I could match this story many times over. For example have ‘preferred suppliers’ from whom we must purchase stuff. But one can very easily find a better price- and sometimes way better. Why should we pay them more? Noone can give a good answer … beyond ‘they’re in the system’. Using the university’s online system itself takes me way longer than simply buying something on-line- or in person at a time that suits.
    I understand time spent by financial people costs money too. But mostly it seems to involve a lack of trust and a desire to be in control.
    OTOH I now buy some work stuff from my own pocket, saving the university both time and money. So maybe it’s working as intended :(

    Comment by Robinson Stowell — April 9, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

  29. “I’ll take “utterly useless bastards” for a $100.”

    Don’t be lazy now.

    Remember when they first came in and paid some high falutin mates to have a line by line looksie over the public sector with a view to getting rid of all the waste?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — April 9, 2014 @ 4:52 pm

  30. @26 Andrew Except, not. Not infrequently, the amount charged by the travel agent for me to fly to conferences, etc is more than the amount it would cost if I were allowed to do the bookings for myself over the internet.

    Snap. It’s especially fraught when, say, ones partner personally pays for herself to accompany you and she can see that it would be a damn sight cheaper if she did all the bookings herself.

    Comment by RJL — April 9, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

  31. Pascal’s bookie – and the result was “shes running pretty good mate – not much we can cut there”

    and national went – “cut em anyway – we’ll get contractors in!”

    do you want to split tom’s hundy? i hope its a real hundy and not some theoretical “public choice hundy”

    Comment by framu — April 9, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

  32. Ditto for local government. Every time there is some balls up or other or a perceived risk is identified, no matter how piffling, Managerialism requires that a new process must be implemented. It doesn’t matter (and nobody attempts to estimate) how disproportionate, costly, effective or timewasting that process is.

    Comment by Adrian — April 9, 2014 @ 5:11 pm

  33. My last employer (a SOE) had a clear belief that modern management meant more measurement of what staff were doing and so more managers. I think this gain in staff in Wellington comes from a similar belief.

    Comment by AVR — April 9, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

  34. I understand time spent by financial people costs money too. But mostly it seems to involve a lack of trust and a desire to be in control.

    What I don’t get is how forcing me to use a particular travel agent even reflects these motivations.

    If “trust”, is the issue, then how is me buying air travel through a travel agent subject to any more oversight than me using a P-Card to do it straight from the airline involved? I still have to get approval for the spending before I incur it, I still have to show receipts to show where it went, and its not as if the travel agent does any extra questioning about my plans! Plus, given that the amount I’m given is never enough to cover all the full costs of the travel, it’s not as if I’m going to just go out and book the most expensive fare I can find.

    If “control” is the issue, then it’s a very weird sort of control. Essentially my institution says “you can have $X to go to a conference and we’ll give it to you if you can show what it will be spent on without really questioning whether the event is worth it (i.e. if I say the conference is worth attending, then I can go), BUT the only evidence we’ll accept of the cost of air travel is what a travel agent says he’ll charge you (and not what an airline says it would).” What sort of control is that?

    I genuinely don’t understand why it happens. I just don’t.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 9, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

  35. “Clint jumped ship to Labour on Friday”

    I really hope that helps connect the parties better somehow.

    Comment by Sacha — April 9, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

  36. According to the SSC website the total number of public servants in June 2013, at 46,546, is slightly down on 2009’s figure of 47,052, which I suppose is a barely acceptable result given that the population went up almost 10% in that time. The “44,500” figure above is for FTEs (Full Time Equivalents), and is also lower than the 2009 figure. Also a couple of hundred of the employees added since 2010 are CERA employees.

    Comment by Dave — April 9, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

  37. @34 Andrew – If Otago uses the travel agent I think you do then you can actually challenge those prices. Last year I’d come to an agreement with my employer (an unnamed large North Island university) that they’d pay for a Premium Economy fare to a conference, and I’d reimburse for the difference between that and the economy price. Our agent then proceeded to quote the cost for said PE fare as $1000 more than I could find it online, but sending a screenshot and a ‘please explain’ email led a *very* rapid requote. Of course, I guess there’s little motivation to actually do this in most cases (unless you’re responsible for School/Departmental Budgets).

    Comment by NBH — April 9, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

  38. NeilM: Serious question: what’s so bad about CECIL, and what are the advantages of Blackboard over it?

    Comment by Simeon — April 9, 2014 @ 6:46 pm

  39. Ah, an academic whine-fest – count me in!

    The most amusing/depressing thing about the travel arrangements is that there’s no question whatsoever that the particular travel agent the government has secured is the most incompetent. I don’t think I know any academic or general staff member that has ever had a good thing to say about them. The only thing you hear is, “Yeah, Orbit screwed it up yet again”.

    Comment by lefty — April 9, 2014 @ 7:08 pm

  40. @lefty: It’s interesting how quickly this went from “what the government does” to “what University administrations do”. I know they’re somewhat connected but it seems an oversimplification to say you can understand the former by delving into the details of the latter.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 9, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

  41. @NBH,

    Yeah – that’s the thing. If the system relies on me to challenge the agent to ensure that the institution gets the best price for the service, then the value they add is … ? And the benefit the institution gets is … ?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 9, 2014 @ 7:16 pm

  42. @kalvarsen,

    You can probably tell a lot about the makeup of the Dimpost commetariat from that slippage … .

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 9, 2014 @ 7:18 pm

  43. @kalvarnsen: Agreed, blame NeilM :)

    Comment by lefty — April 9, 2014 @ 7:28 pm

  44. for successfully subverting the intent of the post, for sure.

    Comment by Sacha — April 9, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

  45. Particularly surprising since this has to rank as one of Danyl’s most nakedly partisan posts in quite some time – you’d think that’d give people something to talk about!

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 9, 2014 @ 7:41 pm

  46. Agreed, blame NeilM

    Yeah, well.

    But it did draw out some discontent which National isn’t doing anything about and which Labour could.

    This is not unique to Auckland … makes no sense at all.

    I have a theory that the provision of technology sometimes doesn’t benefit academics but rather those that control it’s provision IT and financial services.

    Single suppliers I think had become fashionable because it suits financial services and they have the technology to implement it.

    Generally I get the impression academics are being cut out from the decision making process.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 9, 2014 @ 7:58 pm

  47. Particularly surprising since this has to rank as one of Danyl’s most nakedly partisan posts in quite some time – you’d think that’d give people something to talk about!

    I just assumed its unimpeachable good sense meant everyone agreed with it. Was I wrong?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 9, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

  48. I can get book my travel via my secretary, travel agent or just do it myself. The first two are easiest by far, and always work out. You guys should try the private sector some time ;)

    Comment by Swan — April 9, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

  49. one aspires to have a travel booker .. or the need for one #sip

    Comment by Sacha — April 9, 2014 @ 9:16 pm

  50. With all due respect to working academics, I’m not sure that tinkering with the way universities administer themselves should really be a priority for an incoming Labour/Green government.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — April 9, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

  51. You guys should try the private sector some time

    Sure. But I can have may secretary book my travel through a travel agent, too. This also will “work out”, in that I’ll get a flight. It just annoys me that the flight will often cost more than if I (or my secretary on my behalf) booked it direct. But, then, I guess I don’t have other people I can pass that inflated cost on to as “expenses” like the super-efficient private sector does.

    With all due respect to working academics, I’m not sure that tinkering with the way universities administer themselves should really be a priority for an incoming Labour/Green government.

    Obviously not. Should be a priority for University staff.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 9, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

  52. Geddis I was just razzing you. I happen to work for a reasonably enlightened company, but what you are describing is par for the course in a lot of large companies too based on my experience.

    However when it comes to expenses clients do in fact read their invoices (and certainly read the budget estimates before signing you up).

    Comment by Swan — April 9, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

  53. The university administration’s penchant for a “preferred” travel agent stems from the dividend paid from the agent back to the uni on the basis of dollar-value spent, dressed up as a delayed or cumulative discount. That way, the department/academic’s budget bears the full cost, and the central account snares the discount. Result – in the overall scheme of things, the net cost of travel to the uni-at-large is low, but the central pool is fattened. And, being cynical, I guess a few corporate box invites, Koru Club upgrades, Xmas wine boxes etc ahem ahem.

    Comment by TomYum — April 9, 2014 @ 11:09 pm

  54. @TomYum

    Great summary. Always thought the VC and his mates would be getting something out if it.

    It does seem to be part of a broader process of resource shift from teaching departments to the central admin services of financial services, HR and IT.

    Since they do the VCs bidding, they get the rewards.

    There’s quite a bit if discontent at Auckland but difficult for the union to get avadrmics to take concerted collective action. I’m really disappointed by how many liberal acquaintances aren’t even members of the union.

    Shortly the VC is going to make a large number of people redundant. They will mostly be people who actually do constructive things and the work they do will fall on academics. Upper management won’t get touched.

    It’s borderline corrupt. If there’s any Labour politicians out there looking for Auckland votes it might be worth asking a few questions.

    Comment by NeiiM — April 10, 2014 @ 1:42 am

  55. @Robinson Stowell – Excellent summation of the disease of managerialism that is now infecting our universities. The whole plan of dispensing with university councils and replacing them with a corporate style board of ideologically friendly neo-liberal business types is to facilitate this. All over New Zealand, allied staff called “administrators” with 20+ years experience are being restructured out of their jobs and replaced by suit and tie managers who appear to work four times harder to generate eight times the paper work and achieve approximately the same output as the previous administrator. Across the land, HR departments are burgeoning with newly minted “advisors” who don’t have enough to do so they spend all day dreaming up new restructures, and policies and guidelines for ono-existant problems, all the better for dealing with a workforce principally seen not as an asset but as a parasitical drain on the business.

    “… it’s fundamentally about institutions being run for the benefit of managers…” These new corporate sector managers are both paid gazillions more than the people they replace and ten times more risk averse. Managerialism is fundamentally a cookie cutter bureaucratic blame culture. in which, as you say, distrust of employees is a given. Distrust and fear and blame leads to modern managers all suffering from a morbid fear of the “question time for the minister” syndrome, you know – when an opposition MP reveals something the minister was unaware of and a scandal ensues. So you’ve got to document everything, get everything signed off, have a business process for popping away from you desk to take a dump, and woe betide anyone who applys even the slightest common sense that deviates from the “process” is a problem subsequently occurs, because the 20/20 hindsight of the inevitable witchhunt will focus like a laser beam not on the root cause but on the failure of the process.

    The net result is a fatalistic and passified workforce who spend half their day playing the paperwork game and going to endless planning and engagement meetings. Where once someone who had been doing the job for fifteen years could, by talking to other actual workers in the organisation of similar vintage, achieve miracles in 24 hours if asked now now have a bunch of headless chickens seeking to blame shift during and after fault resolution.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 10, 2014 @ 8:02 am

  56. @TomYum 53: The university administration’s penchant for a “preferred” travel agent stems from the dividend paid from the agent back to the uni on the basis of dollar-value spent, dressed up as a delayed or cumulative discount.

    Yes, this seems to be the main “feature”. Given that all transactions ultimately go through the general ledger, it does make some sense from the overall uni. perspective. But from the travel agent’s perspective, there is incentive to inflate prices (or at least not be too enthusiastic about finding the cheapest options) so that the returned dividend does not actually affect the travel agent’s profit too much.

    At the departmental view, you are unlikley to see the benefit of the dividend returned and certainly you never see any benefit as an individual academic who is wanting to spend a travel budget as effectively as possible. The returned dividend just disappears to subsidise other central uni. projects. So it’s effectively a travel tax from departmental travel budgets, that is paid to uni. central and collected via the travel agent.

    Comment by RJL — April 10, 2014 @ 11:49 am

  57. NeilM: “Generally I get the impression academics are being cut out from the decision making process.”

    Isn’t this what Joyce and National (and the professional managerial class) want? See the changes to University Councils.

    The problem is that academics are difficult people to manage; they tend to have opinions, argue, critique. So much easier to manage institutions if they are all nervous about meeting targets in order to avoid redundancy at the next restructuring.

    Comment by MeToo — April 10, 2014 @ 12:51 pm

  58. “So how come the National govt has completely failed to find all these hordes of time wasting busy bodies then?”
    Because the polies don’t have as much control as they think they should have?

    Sanctuary @55, ““… it’s fundamentally about institutions being run for the benefit of managers…” These new corporate sector managers are both paid gazillions more than the people they replace and ten times more risk averse. ”
    So this is a modern disease that only arose under National? It didn’t exist before that? Labours Legions of Policy Analysts are entirely different? Those “corporate sector mangers” really came from the private sector? And are def NOT groomed by the VUW School of Govt (which, ironically, seems to be part of the School of Business(?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 10, 2014 @ 2:19 pm

  59. Remember when they first came in and paid some high falutin mates to have a line by line looksie over the public sector with a view to getting rid of all the waste?

    Comment by david — April 26, 2014 @ 4:20 am

  60. Speaking on behalf of the travel industry…. In the case of government airfares these are contracted based on over all expenditure delivering sizable discounts from participating carriers. As part of the AOG (All of Government) agreement agency booking fees are set and form the entire agency remuneration so there is no incentive to inflate prices and no room for perceived back handers !. In the case of the University of Otago, they are more enlightened, so have appointed more than one preferred agent thus allowing their staff both choice and a competitive environment. There will always be instances where a single transaction may undercut a privately accessed fare however when looking at the lierally thousands of transactions undertaken it is pretty much a given that contracted pricing and service delivery is more cost effective way of managing both expenditure and policy. If there is a legitimate gripe regards the cost of travel it may be more prudent to look at who ultimately sets the price, which in New Zealand is mainly the national carrier…which ironically is effectively just another government entity !

    Comment by Andrew — April 28, 2014 @ 3:25 pm


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The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

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