A conflagration of consultants
City Hall Watcher #181: Spending on consultants keeps going up under Mayor John Tory — a look at who's making the most cash from City Hall
Hey there! A special welcome to all the new readers joining us after last week’s free issue. Glad you’re on board! If you have any questions, concerns or requests, you can get in touch by replying to this message.
This week: the long-anticipated sequel to City Hall Watcher #90. That’s right — I’ve heard your cries for more consultant content and I am finally prepared to deliver.
Today we’ll find out if City Hall has bucked the previous trend that was seeing rapid escalations of spending on external consultants. (Spoiler: Nope.) I’ll also take a look at the biggest consultant contracts issued last year. And, for fun, give you a chart of the 20 most successful City Hall consulting firms.
Here’s a teaser: two firms combined in 2021 to take almost 20% of City Hall’s total consultant spending. See if you can guess.
As always, if you like City Hall Watcher, tell a pal.
— Matt Elliott
@GraphicMatt / email@example.com / CityHallWatcher.com
Read this issue on the web / Browse the archives / Subscribe
Consultant spending at City Hall continues to rise under Mayor John Tory
In the fall of 2020, I looked at a report on City Hall spending on external consultants. I noted consultant spending had grown significantly since Mayor John Tory took office in 2014. I wondered if the trend would continue.
It sure has.
A report from City Hall Controller Andrew Flynn heading to the next meeting of the General Government & Licensing Committee documents continued increases in spending on consultants in the years 2020 and 2021. Last year, the City spent a whopping $45 million on consultants. That’s up about $20 million from consulting spending at the end of the last term of Council and up more than triple from a decade ago.
The increase on the operating budget side is especially notable. Spending on consultants from the operating budget was about $3.5 million when Tory took office in 2014. In 2019, before the pandemic, it had grown to $13.5 million — a nearly fourfold increase. It was relatively steady in 2020 at $13.7 million. But then, last year, it jumped again to $18.6 million — a $4.9 million increase in a single year.
Some of that is pandemic-related spending, but not all of it. Contracts with descriptions that mention COVID and/or the pandemic account for about $1.4 million of the operating budget consulting contracts issued last year.
Spending big on consultants has become one of the hallmarks of Tory’s City Hall — something that differentiates him from his predecessor. Here’s a comparison of the average combined — capital and operating — spending on consultants per year over the last three mayoral terms.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to City Hall Watcher to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.