National | Politics

Auditor-General criticises way University of Waikato contracted Steven Joyce

Steven Joyce. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

This story was first published by RNZ.

The Auditor-General has criticised the way the University of Waikato contracted former finance minister Steven Joyce without looking at other firms.

In an open letter to the university, Auditor-General John Ryan said that Joyce’s consultancy firm Joyce Advisory had been paid $1.1 million in public funds between 2019 and 2023.

“We understand the contractor’s work is ongoing,” he said.

Public organisations were typically required to invite multiple contractors into the procurement process to ensure that public funds were spent responsibly.

But Ryan said the University of Waikato did not engage in a competitive procurement process and had reached out to Joyce directly.

“Where there has been a direct procurement like this, and one that to date has cost well over $1 million of public money, we would expect to see a clear and documented reason for the services that were needed,” he said.

“That explanation, and the assurance it would provide to the public that public money has been appropriately spent, is missing.”

He said the matter was a “useful reminder” for public organisations to be transparent while hiring contractors.

The University of Waikato has been asked for comment.