Friday, July 03, 2009

More Untendered MCFD Contracts: It's Who You Know that Puts Money in Your Pocket

Aha, so that's where the money has been going? Mr. Parfitt is a well known and respected "expert" in child rights in Canada and is well connected internationally in the human rights field, however I don't care how gold plated he is, he isn't worth what he was paid. But this story is the tip of the iceberg. MCFD Deputy Minister Lesley Du Toit has shoveled tons of taxpayer money into the hungry maws of chums she's met since being in Canada, working on various committees.

Hell, she's hired some of them from other provinces into MCFD, people who haven't got the first clue about BC's child welfare system, just like her, replacing people who've actually worked in & up through the system. Classic organizational dynamics, get rid of people who are a threat, people who know too much (and more than the new "leader") and surround yourself with people who will be no threat and will be loyal because they know who butters their bread.

Many also don't know it, but this DM has created a massively overstaffed (and fundamentally useless) "advocacy" and child rights wing of her Ministry. Great idea, too bad the staff could be better utilized on the frontlines where employes can't even hope to meet practice standards and policies due to understaffing, the monster attrition rate and can only dream of working in a Ministry that gave a real crap about Children and Families rights. Read Hands Tied to see first hand why people are leaving and the system this DM has created since 2006.

Remember, we're talking about a DM who has virtually disregarded the implementation of the recommendations of the Hughes Child & Youth Review. The dirty little elephant in the room no-one will bring up is that Du Toit wouldn't know how to implement a damn thing if her life depended on it. She's great at producing pages of flowery & utterly useless mutterings that no-one reads and terrible at doing anything of real world value to anyone, let alone the kids.

Here's a question for Du Toit - how many children and youth in BC have died since 2006 when she became DM? How many have been fully reviewed by her Ministry? What lessons have been learned from those tragedies? What improvements has she, as DM responsible for living and dead children, made for the child welfare system? Like many observe, across the province and this system things just keep getting worse under this DM's "leadership" and "vision."

And let's not forget, while BC leads in child poverty for 6 years in a row, Du Toit is the ONLY Deputy Minister in the entire BC government who has secured for herself a $2000 a MONTH "living allowance" for the pain and hardship of living in Victoria. Take that one to the bank, folks. Along with being the most horrifically overpaid, incompetent and underwhelming (on a gigantic scale) DM ever to exist in BC, she's also earning a whopping $24,000 a year for just living. Boy, that could feed and clothe quite a few BC kids who go without. Also, what bonuses, er "incentives" has she earned, on top of the salary she's collected? Now that is Child Rights, eh? In other words, show us what value the people of BC have received for your service? No flowery BS, real world value and service? Real improvements?

This contract is also another example of the piss poor "management" of this government. They pay outsiders, who most often tend to be friends, colleagues & insiders, massive pots of money to do things that any idiot in government could do. For Parfitt to justify being paid to locate a book is just gross and it really tarnishes his reputation. Good people have been Du Toited and jumped on a gravy train that should be feeding our kids.

While the "talent" in the BC government and MCFD is definitely dwindling, it's beyond the pale to suggest there isn't anyone around who could locate a damn book. Hell, one phone call, or e-mail to the government library and the answer would be provided for free. It's time for this Ministry to open the books up and lets see what we're getting for the massive amounts of money we're paying senior bureacrats and what value are we getting for service? Because there's a whole province full of taxpayers that aren't seeing a damn thing and a whole lot of hurting kids who aren't either.

One thing I know is that whoever created this ruse of an untendered contract and allowed Parfitt to be paid like this should be fired ASAP. At this time of economic and fiscal crisis a strong, clear message needs to be sent that this kind of unethical and manipulative behaviour won't be tolerated in the BC government and that those who insult taxpayers (and BC's kids) like this will not be tolerated, or employed anymore.

BC's child welfare system quite frankly will remain a morass, a provincial and national embarassment and a disgrace until people like these are gone. Our kids deserve so much better than these morally questionable creatures. We need people with knowledge, expertise and a commitment to BC's kids, not their gold plated careers. How many screw ups do BC's taxpayers have to put up with on this file before something definitively is done to improve the situation, because this stinks and the stench from Victoria & MCFD is getting worse & worse with no end in sight?

Over to you Minister Polak, what are you going to do to clean things up in your new Ministry, you know - the one you asked for?
Here's a hint, First order of business, get your DM to provide you a detailed accounting of every consultant and contractor, every secondee, every dime paid to them, every piece of work produced, as well as the job descriptions and work produced by every Assistant DM and senior bureacrat in MCFD. Once you've got that info, the path forward will be clear. BC is watching Minister Polak.


Special to The Globe and Mail

Ministry to examine rules for hiring consultants

Move follows inquiries about a child-rights adviser who was appointed without using competitive process

Sean Holman:

Victoria Last updated on Friday, Jul. 03, 2009 03:31AM EDT

The B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development is moving to tighten rules on how it hires consultants, following inquiries from The Globe and Mail about a child-rights adviser who was appointed without using competitive process.

In the late summer of 2006, the ministry hand-picked Brent Parfitt, a child-rights adviser known to its deputy minister, using a secondment agreement. Unlike most secondees drafted from their employers, the ministry arranged for Mr. Parfitt to bill like a contractor, paying him $275 an hour, a rate that over a full work year would have earned him more than the highest-paid bureaucrat in the public service. That unusual deal – which saw Mr. Parfitt seconded from his own one-person consulting company to work for the ministry – earned the former deputy ombudsman and senior government lawyer $176,170.67 from the late summer of 2006 through to April, 2008, for part-time work, according to documents obtained through a freedom of information request.

By seconding Mr. Parfitt, the government didn't need to put that work out to tender, the standard process for contracts valued at $25,000 or more unless only one contractor is qualified for the job. NDP critic Maurine Karagianis has called that arrangement “completely outrageous,” adding, “This is not the way government is supposed to operate.”

But ministry communications director Kelly Gleeson said the government wasn't avoiding the procurement process.

Instead, Mr. Gleeson said Mr. Parfitt was seconded because he “directly reported to the DM [deputy minister]” so a contract “would not have been appropriate.”

The ministry has contended that the agreement “conformed to government's core policy.” But after The Globe and Mail's inquiries, the ministry is altering its policies so that any adviser hired in future for similar work will either be hired as an employee, or through a contract subject to the standard bidding process. That change would eliminate the possibility of being seconded, and then paid as a contractor, as was the case with Mr. Parfitt. The ministry also said there will be a clear separation in pay between legal and policy work, a distinction it did not make in Mr. Parfitt's agreement.

Unlike most secondees, Mr. Parfitt didn't receive a salary, instead submitting detailed billings to the deputy minister at $275 an hour – a rate he was given because he was classified as an “ad hoc legal counsel.” Mr. Parfitt, who was called to the bar in 1972, said he was hired as a consultant, not as a lawyer. The ministry said his expertise and legal background justified that classification and pay.

As for deputy minister Lesley du Toit's past association with Mr. Parfitt, Mr. Gleeson said the two served together on a ministry blue-ribbon panel set up in 2002. They were also associates with a Victoria-based non-profit organization. But Mr. Gleeson said the deputy minister hired Mr. Parfitt, who was then a member of the United Nations committee on the rights of the child, because of his credentials. For his part, Mr. Parfitt said any suggestion to the contrary is “crazy.”

“Forget the fact she knew me – just looking at my credentials and my [35-year] history with the ministry alone, I would think that I'd be the candidate someone would go to.”

So what did that rate – which Mr. Parfitt wasn't involved in setting – buy the government?

Mr. Parfitt said he helped establish and implement the ministry's new guiding principles, ensuring their consistency with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. He also facilitated the creation of a youth mentoring program for kids in care and was involved in setting up a youth advisory council.

According to his billings, most of that work involved writing briefing notes or interacting with ministry staff. Sometimes that work took hours. But sometimes government paid him for the five, 10 or 15 minutes it would take to call or e-mail one of those staffers – even if that was the only work he did that day.

Mr. Gleeson said all of those payments were “appropriate” – as was the fact he was paid for the 30 minutes he spent ordering 100 copies of a book about organizational change.

Mr. Parfitt said the ministry asked him to place that order after he gave a presentation on the book – spending two hours tracking down the publisher after civil servants were unable to locate copies.

“I didn't want to bill for my whole time,” he explained. “But it was a tremendous amount of time for a stupid little thing that no doubt someone could have tracked down as well.”

Special to The Globe and Mail


Give me shelter

Sean Holman, Public Eye Online

Earlier, we revealed children and family development deputy minister Lesley du Toit gets a $2,000 per month living allowance on top of her $207,900 annual salary. And here's a surprise: she's the only top bureaucrat to get such an allowance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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