Consultants’ costs on the rise at city hall

May 29, 2017

By Arianne Robinson


Technical: undertake activities on a defined assignment to assist managers in analyzing technical problems and recommending solutions (including the selection of engineering/architectural designs, research, appraisals, planning).

Management/Research and Development: undertake planning, organizing and directing activities to assist managers in analyzing management problems and recommending solutions for a defined assignment (can be operational, administrative, organizational policy in nature); with research and development being investigative study to provide the City with increased knowledge or information.

Information Technology: undertake activities on a defined assignment to assist managers in needs assessment and system selection including information processing, telecommunications and office automation (can be analytical, testing or of a business process nature).

External Lawyers and Planners (Legal): as determined in consultation with City legal staff; and

Creative Communications: inclusive of advertising, promotions, public relations and design advice.

The amount the City of Toronto spends on consultants is on the rise.

The City of Toronto spent a total of $31,423,600 on consultants in 2016, $11,383,500 more than they spent in 2015 – a 36% increase.

The most drastic increase of the budget expenditures was in “information technology,” from $1,566,400 in 2015 to $12,006,700 in 2016. While more than $2 million was spent on auditing timesheets within the internal services division, the big ticket item is an $8.7 million spent on the Toronto Transit Commission, more than half of that for “implementation of SAP [software system] for TTC’s finance, HR and payroll departments,” expected to be complete in November 2017.

The largest decrease was in spending on “technical,” which comprised 67% of the 2015 budget and dropped to 39% in 2016. One of the bigger tickets under that category was $1,117,869 paid to Bombardier Transportation to “1) Evaluate the current operations and maintenance practices. 2) Perform an integrity assessment of barbody and trucks. 3) Provide capacity and performance improvement recommendations. Expected completion Dec 2017.”

The date/purchase order for that contract was July 2015.

City councillors on the Government Management Committee questioned city staff. “Is there a checklist or framework within the city?” Councillor Nathan Shan asked city staff. “I heard there was a list of consultants we had previously that has gone and now we go with whoever we can. Each department finds their own person. I’m just trying to find the process.”

Mike St Amant, Treasurer at the City of Toronto, explained there is a consultant policy, but no checklist was given.

The smallest category of spending was “Creative Communications,” with an increase of .1% to $339,600.