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Momentum Disagrees with Inquiry on Reference Check


Bede Ashby
Managing Director
Momentum Consulting

Momentum Disagrees with Inquiry Conclusion on Reference Checks

“Momentum Consulting does not accept the assertion of the New Zealand Defence Force Court of Inquiry that the company carried out reference checks on the preferred candidate for the post of the Director of the Defence Technology Agency.

“We supplied the NZDF with information from referees used by the preferred candidate when he applied for a job in another organization. This information was partial because Mr Wilce did not become the preferred candidate in that process and it was not intended to take the place of the reference checks suggested in our original proposal to the NZDF. That proposal recognized that the post of Director of the DTA required high-level reference checks. At no stage in the recruitment process did the NZDF ask us to complete these checks on Mr Wilce.

“If Momentum had been asked to carry out the full reference checks, as the Inquiry agrees was set out in our initial proposal to the NZDF, his claims about his performance in previous jobs would have been tested more rigorously. Although the checks were included in our proposal the client decided to take responsibility for these themselves.

“Variations on the original proposal are common in recruitment processes and this was no different. For example, Momentum completed assessment reports on all 14 members of the long list. This is very unusual but was carried out at the request of the client. The NZDF varied our original proposal by taking responsibility for the reference checks rather than having us complete them as originally proposed. These were among a number of variations agreed with the client during this process and our documents support this.

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“In summary:

“Momentum was responsible for the following tasks

• Advertising
• Interviewing and reporting on 14 candidates chosen by the NZDF project team
• Psychological assessment of all six candidates on the short list chosen by the NZDF panel
• Completing probity checks - qualification, credit, alias and criminal records checks for the preferred candidate chosen by NZDF.

“The NZ Defence Force was responsible for

• The choice of the preferred candidate – this task was undertaken by a three person NZDF panel
• Reference checking of the preferred candidate
• Salary, contract and start time negotiations

“Momentum supports the recommendations of the Inquiry as they relate to the recruitment process adopted for positions of this kind. High-level jobs associated with national security require the strong recruitment processes for which we are known.

“Momentum also notes the following aspects of the report:

• “The qualification checks carried out by Momentum showed that Mr Wilce had the qualifications he claimed.

• “Key exaggerations and embellishments by Mr Wilce were not included in the curriculum vitae used by him to support his application for the post of Director of the DTA – these claims include: membership of the British Olympic Bobsleigh team, representing England in swimming and to have served in the Royal Marines.”

Key Dates in Recruitment Process for Director of DTA
8 September Momentum sends proposal for the recruitment of the Director DTA to NZDF. Proposal describes Momentum processes including detailed reference checking

6 October NZDF accepts Momentum proposal

8 October Contract between Momentum and NZDF

15 October Advertising for DTA post begins

3 November Email from Momentum to NZDF project team setting out Momentum’s responsibilities – reference checks are not included.

9 November Long list of 14 identified by NZDF project team in association with Momentum and written reports on all 14 prepared by Momentum

24 November NZDF project team selects short list of 6 based on Momentum interviews and testing

9 December NZDF interview panel meet Momentum to discuss short list

16 December Short list candidates interviewed in Wellington

17 December Chief of Defence Force interviews two candidates, one of whom is Stephen Wilce.

20 and 21 December Updated reference material from previous Momentum process requested and supplied to NZDF.

21 December NZDF interview panel recommend appointment of Stephen Wilce.


11 January Provisional offer of employment to Stephen Wilce.

21 January Letter to NZDF from Momentum setting out the tasks Momentum has carried out for NZDF in this process – reference checks and salary, contract and start time negotiations were not included.

22 January Stephen Wilce signs employment agreement.

10 February Criminal and traffic history – Police report.

12 February M.Sc degree in Aerospace Systems confirmed by Momentum.

14 February MBA confirmed by Momentum.

19 April Reviews by NZDF of 3 non-appointments of candidates. Letters to unsuccessful candidates from the Chief of Defence Staff state, “ a correct and proper appointment process took place for the appointment to Director, DTA.”

3 May Report on qualifications, credit, alias and criminal history to NZDF from Momentum.

13 May High level clearance granted by NZDF


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