A premise behind Gov. Scott Walker's push to gut public-worker unions is that public workers make a lot more than their counterparts in the private sector, which is a model of efficiency.
But two recent audits by the Legislative Audit Bureau found that private consultants hired by the state in various departments actually cost taxpayers more money than when their functions are handled by state employees.
A 2009 audit (PDF) of highway engineering construction projects found that consultants consistently cost the state more money than state workers. In 2007-08, the audit found, there were 287 construction projects, of which 127 (44%) were handled by consultants.
The state is required to do a cost-analysis assessment whenever it wants to hire a consultant. The audit analyzed 125 assessments for road projects between 2007 and 2008 and found that transportation staff could have completed the work for less money. But consultants were hired nonetheless, because the state didn't have the available staff to do the job.
In addition, the state lacked the manpower to determine whether contractors had met required standards -- it later determined some had and some hadn't. Some companies should have been fined for substandard work but weren't, the audit said.
Finally, a 2009 audit (PDF) of the state's Accountability, Consolidation and Efficiency Initiative found that "any savings and efficiencies achieved through consolidation have been offset by payments of $15.2 million to four contractors that helped to create and implement the ACE Initiative."