AgResearch has come under fire after revealing it has
paid almost $170,000 to public relations companies as part of
Responding to an Otago Daily Times Official
Information Act (OIA) request, the organisation revealed it
had spent $168,671.86 with the companies Ideas Shop and Paul
Hemsley Public Relations since September 2012.
Finance and business performance director David Godwin, as
part of the OIA response, said the spending was due to
''additional work'' associated with its restructuring plan -
which included slashing 69 jobs at Invermay.
This extra work ''was always planned to be outsourced, given
the small size of the AgResearch communications team''.
An AgResearch spokeswoman said the organisation was happy
with the work provided by the two companies.
Dunedin North MP David Clark said the level of spending on
external communications consultants was a waste of taxpayers'
money and evidence its restructuring plan had ''gone wrong''.
''They are in damage mode and employing expensive consultants
to try to manage the fallout from a process that isn't
''It looks like the symptom of a restructure gone wrong.''
AgResearch also responded to questions about its statement of
corporate intent (SCI) 2014-17, in which the organisation
said it expected to employ 484 fulltime equivalent research
staff in 2015, down from 523 at the end of the financial year
ended June 30, 2013.
A spokeswoman said the reduction in staff was about meeting
the goals set in its SCI and the needs of its
''This involves both growing areas where we see new
opportunities and reducing areas where we and our
stakeholders see declining needs.''
AgResearch disputed Dr Clark's suggestion it was ''alarming''
that the SCI showed that 58% of its stakeholders had
confidence ''in its ability to set research priorities''.
''Nearly 60% of support by stakeholders for our research
priorities is positive and we are looking to increase that