Agencies put case
Commonwealth Government Agencies spent $649 million on legal services in 2011-12, an increase of 8.4 per cent on 2010-11, according to a report from the Attorney-General’s Department.
for rising legal bills
In its Commonwealth Legal Services Expenditure Report 2011-12, the Department provided an overview of the expenditure during the year, identifying and reporting on trends, patterns and changes to services.
The report says for Financial Management and Accountability Act 1999 agencies (FMA agencies) there had been increases in expenditure on internal legal services (12.7 per cent), external legal services (4.7 per cent), disbursements (26.4 per cent) and Counsel (two per cent).
It says the total expenditure of Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 agencies (CAC agencies) showed an increase in expenditure on internal legal services (12.2 per cent) along with a decrease in external legal services (23.2 per cent) and disbursements (26.3 per cent).
“There has been an increase in overall expenditure in agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the Department of Defence and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship,” the report said.
“It is also notable that several agencies reported decreases in expenditure, including the Department of Finance and Deregulation, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.”
It says there was also an increase in the number of briefs to Counsel by FMA agencies while CAC Agencies recorded a decrease.
“The distribution of briefs between male and female counsel was consistent with the previous reporting period, with female counsel receiving 26.4 per cent of the total number of briefs to counsel which is higher than their reported representation at the Bar of 21 per cent,” it said.
“The Office of Legal Services Coordination (OLSC) has progressed work to enhance the delivery and strategic management of legal services to the Commonwealth, including the implementation of the Legal Services Multi-Use List (LSMUL).
“The LSMUL is a whole-of-government multi-use list for purchasing legal services.”
The full report can be accessed at this PS News link.
Edition 345, 22 January 2013