SPARC salaries

One of the signs of third termitis is the automatic defence of the status quo. The Government and associated left blogs have rushed to defend SPARC, and claim thereis no need to change anything.

I was intrigued by National’s sports policy as it appeared to be meticiously well researched and referenced. What that suggests to me is that sporting insiders have been helping write the policy because of the level of knowledge.

Since the policy was released, I’ve chatted to a few people in the sports administration arena, and to a person they are critical of SPARC and its growing bureaucracy. Now a smart third term Government would be hestitant about rushing in to defend it, when so many people are unhappy.

Bernard Hickey has done an interesting analysis. National revealed 55% of SPRAC staff earn over $100K a year. He wondered how that compares with other government agencies. Now Bernard could have chosen a lightweight agency such as Youth Affairs to compare to, but he chose the Reserve Bank – can’t get much more critical than that. What does he find:

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s annual report shows that it has 221 staff and that 71 or 32% of those are paid more than NZ$100,000. Over 55% of Sparc staff are paid over the NZ$100,000 threshold. There are 25 staff at the RBNZ who are paid more than NZ$150,000 or 11% of staff.

That compares with Sparc’s 16% of staff who are paid more than NZ$150,000. The total remuneration cost for the RBNZ in 2006/07 was NZ$21.8 million or an average of NZ$96,642 per staff member. That’s 24% less than the average for Sparc of NZ$129,411.

So we are paying our Reserve Bank staff 24% less than our sports funding agency staff. Now let us compare their importance starting with the RBNZ:

The RBNZ has the power to destroy or save the economy with its monetary policy and the power to regulate and/or save our banks. Every single bank note we have in our wallets is printed by and managed by this institution. Our payments system depends on it. …

Governor Bollard must front up to the public, politicians and his own board once every 6 weeks or so to explain what he’s going to do with the economy. He is regularly criticised by many commentators (including me) and will be held responsible for the economic life of the nation. The pressure is intense and the stakes are high.

If one of the big four banks were to fail on his watch (which I think is utterly unlikely), he and the bank would be responsible for a national disaster. It would cripple the economy for years. …

The Reserve Bank is an institution integral to the economic life of New Zealand and the Governor is one of the four or five most powerful people in the country. If he stuffs up we all pay.

Yep pretty critical indeed. And SPARC:

Sparc encourages us to take up sport and its CEO is a former international hockey player who once was the head of sales for New Zealand Post, a monopoly. Its success is measured by (I hope) how many of us regularly play sport and are therefore healthier, although Sparc’s Statement of Intent seems not to give any specifics on these or how it has performed recently. If the CEO of Sparc stuffs up it would be a one day story that maybe generates an independent inquiry that ends in a 50 page report that no one remembers.

A fair summary. So the conclusion:

Sparc is not more important than the Reserve Bank, its people should not be paid 24% more than people at the Reserve Bank and we should not be paying more than half of its staff NZ$100,000 to give away around NZ$71 million of public money.

Bernard also has a lot of good stuff on the $18 million SPARC is planning to spend on their websites, on how Trade Me and Staff websites have cost far less than this, and how the traffic to the SPARC sites appears to be so small it is unmeasurable.

There seems to be a very strong case for change.

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