Travel Costs actually lower

NZPA report:

The Treasury has apologised for an error that embarrassed the Government and led Labour leader Phil Goff to accuse it of hypocrisy.

Ministerial travel costs released last week showed that in the first three months of this year National ministers spent $739,000, more than double the $336,000 Labour ministers spent in the same period in 2008.

That wasn’t only wrong, it actually reversed the true situation.

The Treasury had been right with the $739,000 figure for National ministers, but it said today Labour ministers spent $783,000.

So in fact less money was spent on travel in the first three months of a new Government than in the same period in the last year of the former Government.

Treasury’s deputy secretary for the state sector performance group, Peter Mersi, said he deeply regretted the error and apologised for it.

“Treasury strives to produce accurate and timely information,” he said.

“We didn’t meet our own high standards this time and I’m looking into how that happened, to ensure that such errors are unlikely to happen again.”

Treasury’s explanation of how the error occurred was: “The table also included a `total’ line which has been removed. The line was incorrect as the columns in this table cannot be accurately added because this would double count certain expenses. Because of the way these funds are appropriated, approximately 85 percent to 90 percent of VIP transport is funded from ministers’ internal and external travel which is included as a separate line. Therefore adding these figures would result in double counting.”

What I’m confused about is why Treasury is even involved in answering the question. The costs of travel are covered by Ministerial Services so I would have thought DIA would be the authoritative source of costs for Ministerial overseas travel?

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