Momentum v Defence

October 29th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A firm working for Momentum has sent me their PR in relation to the Wilce inquiry. I’ve not seen any media carry their view, so here are key extracts:

“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.

I have no first hand knowledge of course on this issue, but as someone who has recruited CEOs and the like through a recruitment agency, I can say that it is not uncommon for the client to ask to do the referee checks? Why? Because by doing so you get a better feel of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses which can help in managing them and/or setting performance targets.

Audrey Young also reports in the Herald:

He and the recruiting firm Momentum Consulting are in dispute about who actually conducted the checks on the referees for Mr Wilce. Momentum said it did not conduct full reference checks because the Defence Force took responsibility for doing so.

The inquiry concluded that Momentum had conducted referee checks that met a basic standard but did not satisfy a higher standard of thoroughness required by its contract.

It would be nice to be able to read what the inquiry says about whether it was agreed that Momentum not do these, but I still can’t locate a copy online. Not on the Beehive site, the NZDF site or even Scoop.

The inquiry reveals that the most expert member of the panel set up to interview the shortlisted applicants recommended that no appointment be made, but was overruled.

As I said, I’ve been a several appointment panels for senior roles (in my role as a non executive Director). If a member of my panel strongly felt that no appointment be made, I’d be very reluctant to proceed.

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