The right to party?

The Campbell administration spent $587,791.06 on parties to celebrate civil service achievements, Public Eye has exclusively learned. But the government says such celebrations are needed to help retain and recruit employees in a tight labour market. According to documents obtained via a freedom of information request, the government paid out at least $77,564.63 catering to the dining desires of the 1,813 bureaucrats and guests who were scheduled to attend the premier's fourth annual innovation and excellence awards.

Among the menu items for the awards - which included four regional and one provincial ceremony - were salmon baked with fresh dill, rosemary crusted free range chicken breast, apple tart with sweet cream and caramel sauce and Vienna chocolate caramel tort. Swag worth $39,759.14 - including umbrellas, scarves and pins - was also handed out at the parties.

But the big ticket item at $149,726.71 was the production of video interviews with award nominees, as well as five "fun, high energy" ceremony opening videos "intended to inspire government employees and guests about the range, quality and importance of work in the public service."

Asked for comment, Canadian Taxpayers Federation provincial communications director Maureen Bader said, "It's an extremely irresponsible example of spending."

"It's not a crime to celebrate success," she continued. "The problem in government is that they're spending other people's money."

But government spokesman Richard Chambers defended the expenditure saying, "We're proud of our employees and the work they do. And these ceremonies - not parties - are an important way we show our appreciation and show their colleagues, their families and the public the positive impact that these people are making day-in and day-out." The following is a complete copy of the expenditures for the awards.

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Expenditures for fiscal 2007/08 premier's innovation and excellence awards

Adjudicators/Judges Expenses $7,694.97
Audio-Visual Requirements $86,315.11
Award Material $24,603.79
Business Expenses for Adjudication/Judges Sessions $2,481.11
Catering/Facilities, etc. $104,579.92
Decorations $3,853.97
Marketing and Communications $14,486.25
Miscellaneous (swag/shipping, etc.) $7,159.15
Newspaper Ads $22,254.22
Photographer $7,490.00
Printing (including program guides) $18,497.41
Staff Travel $16,763.31
Staff Salary & Benefits $76,126.00
Swag $39,759.14
Video Production (all-inclusive) $149,726.71
Total $587,791.06

2 Comments

Is this the same Gordon Campbell that did his best to reduce the number of Government employees a few years ago, and then shafted the pensioners by cutting pension benefits? Our tax dollars at work! The fellows flip flops keep my head swimming

My firm recently dismissed two management level employees. They were formally managers with the BC Government. Their resumes reflected a great amount of experience, steady growth and training. When they got here it became readily apparent that they did not have a firm grasp of the main skills required of them, skills that they assured us they had, and that their government references supported. This is on par with someone presenting themselves as a scientist but doesn't know how to use a microscope.

Their business skills were non-existent. They were unable to think for themselves or even begin to know how to make a decision. Everything had to be spelled out and written down for them before they could move. And when they did venture out to make a decision or do anything, it was likely to be a wrong decision based upon faulty logic. One of these managers spent an entire morning composing a email to staff about a replacement software program that was used for a very minor business function. An entire morning shut in thier office with the door closed! The quality of work produced by these two supposedly seasoned experienced qualified individuals could only have been more unprofessional if it had been written in crayons.

The only thing they were really good at was making work out of nothing and dragging the simplest task out for ages. Hardly anything was ever completed, or completed properly.

These two managers were both provided with constant feedback and mentoring, and in one case remedial training - they still couldn't manage to perform.

Their resumes were golden. Their references were solid. Our HR people were fooled and so were the hiring committees. We were all so appalled that now upon receipt of a resume from someone with significant government work history it is thrown out. It was discovered later in conversations that we have a number of satisfactory ex-government employees - we didn't know about them as they didn't stay long (less than a year on average) and wouldn't put it on their resumes.

We interviewed a few more government employees before our ban, and we probed these applicants in greater detail and depth than we ever have had to before - that was when their lack of skills started to become apparent. We needed to take a few examples of demonstrated ability and pick away at for some time to find out the truth.

So please, spend all the money you can to keep these employees in the public service because the private sector can't use them, nor do we want them. They're useless.

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