Feb. 9, 2018
By Arianne Robinson
The Auditor General presented 25 recommendations made to the city that have not yet been fully implemented to the Audit Committee this week. Thirteen of those outstanding recommendations are for the City Manager’s Office, and one of those is for the development and implementation of a formal consultant-performance-evaluation process, in the form of a new software tool.
The potential savings that could result from implementing this process has not been quantified, despite the overall cost of consultants at city hall having been on the rise in recent years. In 2016 the City of Toronto spent a total of $31,423,600 on consultants – $11,383,500 more than in previous year.
The recommendation for the formal consultant-performance-evaluation process originates from a report published in November 2014 called “Service Efficiency Consultant Studies Extent of Value for Money From Studies Has Not Been Clearly Demonstrated.”
That report looked at the work produced by various consultants retained between 2011 and 2013 to conduct Service Efficiency Studies for certain divisions and agencies that were thought to benefit. The approximate cost was $3.5 million for 22 studies and 300 recommendations on service delivery, structure, and savings. The potential savings quantified as a result of these studies was $16.1 million in potential savings.
The Auditor General at the time in 2014, Jeffrey Griffiths, concluded that the actual “Value for Money” aspect was not clear, and recommended a formal evaluation and documentation process be used. The process would make it so that while the City of Toronto and its agencies and corporations can continue using external consultants, there is a consistent process for consultant performance evaluations and information can be shared and used in making future award decisions.
Fast forward to 2018. While the evaluation process has still not been implemented city-wide, a Management Consultant Performance Evaluation (MCPE) Tool, procedure and training package are in the works and are intended to be rolled out by summer.
The purpose of the formal consultant-performance-evaluation tool is to hone in on how efficient the consultant is, how practical the output of their work is, how the city benefits, and ways to evaluate qualitative and quantitative performance measures.
The extent that such a system could help many city processes is not yet known, but the potential for broader reach is there.
“The intent is that the tool will be used generally for consultants, with the exception of engineer-type professional services,” wrote a spokesperson for Michael Pacholok, director of Purchasing and Materials Management. “A separate but similar tool is being piloted for those types of contracts through Engineering and Construction Services.”
Potential cost savings or the resources required to implement them were not determined in the 2014 report or current review from the Auditor General.
The new timelines for implementation of most of the recommendations for the City Manager’s Office have now had their expected completion dates pushed back to the end 2018 and early 2019, except for two recommendations expected to be fulfilled by the summer of this year, one being the formal consultant-performance-evaluation process and the other relating to city training courses with low attendance.