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Anger over capacity-building lolly scramble

Anger over capacity-building lolly scramble

National Party Social Services spokeswoman Katherine Rich says taxpayers should be angered by the incompetence which appears to surround the Community Employment Group's 'capacity-building lolly scramble'.

"Salaries were specifically excluded, yet now we know 'pseudo salaries' made up the lion's share of the expenditure in the capacity-building grant make-up.

"According to the rules, salaries were not ok, yet payments for facilitators, project managers, coordinators and consultants were. Same people, same role, just a different job description.

"The initiatives' guidelines were vague enough, so it's doubly concerning that field staff noted a perceived a loosening of project requirements towards the end.

"The guidelines are there for a reason - to guide. Taxpayers don't like the idea that there is mad panic spending on projects that don't meet the criteria, just to get rid of the allotted money.

"These programmes were Labour's flagships but they have been no more than a wishy-washy disaster. Opposition members struggled to see what the objectives of these programmes were and these documents show that field workers working for CEG were equally confused," says Mrs Rich.

"When some field staff refer to information on Labour's capacity building initiatives as "intermittent, incomplete, late, inconsistent and unresponsive to field adviser input" is it any wonder the Labour flagship is on the rocks?"

Key points:

* "Field staff and operational staff interviewed discussed the information received in generally negative terms....intermittent, incomplete, late, consistent and unresponsive to field adviser input. - Page 16

* "In addition, the 'no salary' guideline appeared to have been subverted....labour costs made up the largest part of the grant funding, and it was not clear who was paid to do this work, or for what period." - Page 47.

* "Finally, it was considered to do CEG no credit that groups could obtain what was in effect a salary indirectly." - Page 19.

* "You tell the group they can't use the grant for a salary but then you tell them you can contract someone from your group to do the work - it makes it so unclean." (Interview 8) - Page 32.

* "The Maori Local Partnership projects were generally not funded according to guidelines. Few project applications nominated a partnering organisation, and consequently groups could not show the partner's intent to contribute to the project. In addition, grant funding was given to groups for salaries either directly or indirectly."

* "There was a lack of understanding amongst field staff interviewed about who the Maori Women's Leadership initiative was targeted to and what it intended to achieve." - Page 21

* Loose application of the guidelines, particularly towards the end of the financial year. "It was generally agreed by the CEG staff interviewed that the guidelines were relaxed as the end of the financial year approached...National Office had 'probably opened up the criteria'. " - Page 48.

* Pressure did come off [re salaries] at the end of the year, because it was realised we weren't going to spend the money, a lot of things slipped through. (Interview 13) Page 48

* Re the Maori Women's Leadership, "I relented on it being focused on groups of women - it was like chucking money at an organisation rather than the women themselves. Now [2001/02 financial year] the Maori Women's Leadership is about the development of individual women, the primary focus is on the women. (Interview 12) Page 48

* What we did in terms of some of the guidelines was say that because we hadn't got our stuff together and got out to work proposals, at the end of the financial year it squeezed our ability to maintain our benchmarks. Because of the sheer volume of the money that hadn't been spent, a lot of those things got relaxed. (Interview 12) Page 48

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