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Leaked Document Reveals the AOG Recruitment Panel

By September 20, 201222 Comments

I’ve spent a bit of time in Wellington this week and it has been quite a bizarre trip.  Yesterday morning I checked out of my hotel room at “Ohtel” and took advantage of their breakfast buffet before heading out.  To my surprise I found myself sharing a breakfast table with Kim Dot Com and his phalanx of mildly intimidating cronies.  At the other end of the day I found myself starting this blog in the Koru Lounge at the airport when John Banks walked in.

Two characters in an entertaining piece of political and legal theatre, sandwiched either side of a day spent, once again, talking with clients and candidates about the “All-of-Government” recruitment tender and what it might mean for the recruitment industry in Wellington.

The questions I keep getting asked is, “Who made the panel?  Who missed out?  When will it go live and what are the rates?”  Helpfully, I managed to obtain a leaked document that answers some of those questions.  The 42 recruitment suppliers on the panel are:







Capital Recruitment

Career Dynamics



Executive Appointments Ltd

Frog Recruitment

GBL Personnel




Inside Executive Recruitment


Jackson Stone

Kelly Services




McLaren Associates


Neal Andrews

Niche Recruitment

OCG Consulting

Project Plus




Robert Walters






Talent Now


The Johnson Group

Work-Life Ltd


Well done to those successful panellists although the mood around town is certainly what I would call restrained.  Even the firms who have gained entry to the Government’s night club aren’t sure yet whether they will be able to find a good spot on the dance floor, especially as the dance floor is so crowded.  The rates are, as I understand it, whatever that firm bid as their last and final price on the e-tender (nightmare to manage but a brave move by the Government, and a good one I believe).

I also understand it kicks off today so, whilst some final details are still being worked through with some firms, the Government Departments and Agencies covered by the new contract can only push jobs out to recruitment firms present on that panel.

My apologies to Steven Joyce who is lined up to announce this list in a week or so’s time, but I don’t think I’ve stolen much of his thunder really.  What has been an all-consuming, insomnia-inducing affair for us in recruitment, will no doubt be announced in an off-hand manner like “Government have undertaken a robust and thorough rationalisation process of recruitment suppliers resulting in an expert panel of 42 intimately-assessed and vetted firms, expected to deliver cost savings of a third from previous years’ recruitment expenditure.”  There you go, you can copy and paste that to save the bother of working on a Press Release.  It might make an appearance on page 2 of the Dominion Post and perhaps page 4 of the Herald, won’t see the light of day on the air waves or TV screens, and attention will move onto cutting costs in office stationery supplies next.

So, this is what we have, and what we have to make the most of.  Hudson have started agitating already, responding to their inclusion by making redundancies and slashing commission schemes.  I hope it works for them commercially, but I also hope they have assessed the impact it could have culturally.

The jury is out as to whether recruitment firms can continue to deliver the same quality of service at the reduced rates.  Rumblings of discontent have already started surfacing from Government Departments utilising the legal services of law firms appointed on their new AOG panel, who are now putting more junior and inexperienced (and cheaper?) lawyers onto their cases.

Kim Dot Com believes it is time for the media to move on from the whole John Banks anonymous donations scandal:

Before entering the House yesterday, Mr Dotcom told waiting media Mr Banks had been through a lot and it was time to move on.

I think the same applies to us in recruitment.  AOG is done.  It is here.  Now we must deliver and yes, it is time to move on.

Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • John says:

    Excellent and very amusing for someone on the outside looking in. The public sector cost cutting together with the reductions in the public service headcounts will be interesting to watch although it appears headcount is now being replaced by contractors so maybe some hope for panelists. Good luck and all power to them.

  • interested observer says:

    As always, superbly entertaining.  I only galnced at the list but it looks like everyone of any capability who had to participate got on the list and some of those with real capability didn’t want to lower their undergarments that far or didn’t bother getting embroiled.

  • Bemused says:

    42 on a panel is rationalisation? So the panelists dropped their pants to share the spoils with 41 others?

    Always a great read and love the way you call it how it is.

  • Malcolm S says:

    AOG has been around in the I.T industry for couple of years and personally I think its the smartest thing this government has done.

    I worked for hardware vendor I can tell you now that management were a little upset that there margins got slashed by 100%but there was still plenty of fat in the deals.It keeps all the vendor honest and it does not become a price war and the government ends up with a tailored smart solution that benefits the needs of that department. Millions of dollars of tax payers money is wasted every year so I am all for AOG.

    • Noreality says:

      Not in this case. This process was only about price. Quality of service and current profit levels were not considered. Have you ever run a business?

      • Malcolm S says:

        What quality are you talking about they have over 40 recruiters to pick from plenty of quality there. 

        And to answer your second question I do run a business which employees over 200 staff worldwide, I find more quality candidates coming through seek and our website careers tab.  

        I would never bother with recruiters rather use their fees as leverage for potential candidates.

  • Kimdotcom says:

    You really are nob. Releasing confidential info before the Minister helps to feed you already over inflated ego Mr Rice. Lets hope the fallout stuffs up your business you dickhead

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks for your comments Mr DotCom, I allow anonymous comments on the blog to help encourage debate and honest opinions, glad you’ve taken full advantage. Hope your Friday night got better after your vent 🙂

    • Stuff says:

      Interesting comment from what must be an non-educated person with lack of grammar, spelling and overall idiocy.  Anyone in the industry with any networking ability already knew of these details well before they were published here.  Obviously ‘kimdotcom’ has not got a network to use.  

  • Think says:

    The recruitment industry isn’t so desperate that a couple of days was going to make a difference. You’ll certainly get readership but I’m not sure that it was worth losing respect mate.

  • eyeswideshut says:

    This process is only going to do damage to the government and the suppliers. Nothing good will come from it except short term $ savings. As you can see with the number of suppliers out there there is sufficient competition to keep profit margins thin (around the 15% mark). To then go and cut the revenue by 50% is freaking ludicrous. The only way around this is to cut processes by 50%, in other words do a shit job.

    Well done Joycey.

  • RS says:

    Very ill judged post in my opinion. Recruitment relies on respecting confidentiality above all else. How is a client to trust you in the future with sensitive information? I know I wouldn’t. I have a feeling this one will come back and bite you from a business perspective.

  • Das_Wolf says:

    Mr Rice, serious
    question. Would you have been so quick to release this information if your name
    had been on the list, I assume you participated in the tender process?

    Let’s be
    honest, the names will be in the public domain sooner or later but your
    desperation to be the one to “break the news”, especially in this way
    (or any way) is rather cringe worthy to say the least, and rather
    unprofessional. It kind of suggests that because you haven’t been invited to
    the party you want to crash it, I did that once for my ‘friends’ 13th.

    You have upstaged
    Mr Joyce, well done. I am sure it will weigh heavy on his mind and the name
    Rice Consulting will be forever etched in his mind.

    I for one
    think 42 providers working on behalf of 200+ agencies (plus councils?),
    actually feels a little light as opposed to being over-crowded, so not sure how
    that analogy holds weight? I wonder how many recruiters were engaged with
    Government before the AoG process, does anybody know?  

    What would
    this blog be saying if the panel were 1, 5 or 10 providers….”behold, the
    market is slain forever, what have NZ Govt done!” Or words to that effect   IF one of the objectives for NZ govt
    is to maintain a sustainable market as well as deliver value for the taxpayer…this
    kind of feels like it?

    of the view of price versus quality my observation is this. I understand suppliers
    were invited to participate in a process – if they wanted to. Any price
    pressures therefore I am sorry are down to the recruitment firms who
    participated. I think it was you Jonathan who referenced recruiters
    “dropping their pants”? Yes, Government have a role to ensure that
    the commercial offer is sustainable but surely Recruiters also have a role to ensure
    what they table is sustainable? Surely nobody is better positioned to know a
    recruiters business model better than the recruitment firms themselves.

    Of course
    Government now have to work hard to ensure the quality of the outputs is
    maintained at a high enough level and if it’s not, they will address that
    balance I am sure.

    Do I
    understand why recruiters who have missed out are unhappy?…of course!  It’s a tough economic client and NZ Govt have
    reacted. If anyone thinks that those AoG guys do not have the commercial intelligence
    to understand and measure the Total Cost Implications of the decisions they have
    made then I am sorry – but get real!

    Credit where
    credit is due, NZ Govt from what I observe have run a transparent and inclusive
    process (which in turn addresses the point of respect I think?) and the results appear impressive. Sustianable, too early to say.

    • Malcolm S says:

      Nice one Das_Wolf you make a valid point and argument.

      I once advertised for a role and I had five recruiters sending me the same candidates CV feeding me different lies about this poor bloke……

      I should publish there names on this forum while we are on the topic of privacy but I wont I have ethics something a couple of you can read about……. 

    • Jonathan says:

      Some good comments Das_Wolf and thanks for joining the debate.  I think Mr Joyce has bigger issues to concern himself with than letting this prey on his mind though. But if you personally regard this as a “desperate bid to break the news” then that’s up to you, but you don’t quite get what this blog is about.

      We do agree on other points though.  I mirrored the opinions of many successful panellists who described the panel (IT in particular) as being “crowded” – didn’t mention it was over-crowded though.  I also agree with you that we in recruitment are to blame for the amounts the fees were undercut – we did it to ourselves and can’t blame anyone else.  I also agree that it has been a transparent and inclusive process and have commented previously how I feel the same way.

      Where I have to differ on opinion is that the recruiters who didn’t make it are not actually that unhappy.  Perhaps egos have been dented but at the rates on offer I think most of them have taken a pragmatic viewpoint of the more lucrative opportunities to be hunted out of the private sector, as well as the large number of eligible Government agencies who have candidly suggested they don’t intend to be involved in the AOG contract, thus keeping options open with previous suppliers who may not be on the panel (eg. IRD who recently rolled their PSA forward).

      On the issue of respect…. Well firstly it was odd that Mark Ansell and Tom the-probity-guy both resigned from the Procurement team just as the process was nearing its conclusion.  What was that about, do you think?  And furthermore I know a number of unsuccessful bidders who have tried to take up the offer of face-to-face feedback on where they fell down, who have not had their e-mails returned.  The pre-tender “coffee meetings” and “supplier stocktakes” also informed the Procurement team that no-one in recrutiment felt a panel was the best way to tackle what everyone agreed was a necessary process of cost-cutting and rationalisation.  But a panel was still chosen, rather unoriginally, as the best way forward.  Not listened to, and then abandoned mid-Process, and then not communicated with post-tender…all suggest  a lack of respect to me.

      But maybe that’s just me.

      • Das_Wolf says:

        Hi Jonathan,
        perhaps I don’t get the blog. I haven’t contributed before so in that sense I
        am a novice. I just thought the fact you opted to put this information on your
        blog was insensitive to the 42 Recruiters who were on the list and responded
        with my gut reaction – which I stand by. You didn’t answer my first question by
        the way…but that’s fine.

        As for those
        guys leaving I’m not sure how that links in with the respect debate. But, I do
        agree that robust de-briefs has to be a pivotal part of the process…that is

        As an
        observer I would just challenge the notion of the recruitment industry
        “informing” the best course of action to take (Turkeys and Christmas
        comes to mind). I see rationalisation, cost cutting and maintaining a
        sustainable market, don’t you?

        I for one
        would be really keen to understand from AoG what they learned from the market
        through their engagement and how they incorporated those learning’s into their
        work. Of course they won’t tell us but I imagine AoG’s learning’s stretch way
        beyond the “panel or no panel” debate and do feature in some form within
        their final solution.

        If the AoG
        team are as “commercially intelligent” as I alluded to earlier they
        would have tested much more than just the shape of the final solution. Surely
        that is only a small fraction of the value proposition?

        Personally I
        wouldn’t put that down to respect I would put it down to AoG listening,
        testing, hypothesis development and doing what is possible and what is right,
        because that is what “good” procurers do. Certainly procurers who
        have the interests of the nation to contend with! Were the supply market really
        ready for the solutions they wanted to see? Actually more to the point was the
        customer market (NZ Inc.) ready for that and ready to embrace it?…I don’t
        know, do you ?

        Not that you
        have suggested this Jonathan but this is not an ‘attack’ on recruiters you understand,
        it is however a defence of the process I have observed and the results that
        have supposedly been delivered.

  • Brad Gatehouse says:

    The recruitment industry is based upon a foundation of confidentiality and you have clearly missed that point with this blog – disappointing and naive. Perhaps you should remember the old WW2 slogan “Loose lips sink (relation)ships”. 

  • The Honest Recruiter says:

    Look, let’s face it – the whole AOG tender was a complete farce!  There was nothing behind the process (if you can call it that) other then a pure cost cutting exercise.  Nothing to do with quality of service or relationships that had been built in the past.  There weren’t even considerations/limits as to how many agencies would be able to battle it out for each vertical.  It’s just an approach which says “Yeah let’s cut costs and see how many we can get on our list for less”.  Names may as well have been drawn out of a hat.

    Anyone who knows anything about how PSA’s work knows that you carefully select a few agencies based on capability and quality, then maybe consider cost.  A PSA is NOT a big list of people who will work for 5%, there is no value in that to either Client or Agency.

    Clients complain about some agencies giving bad service, but when are they going to realise it’s them which are main driving force behind this?  As for agencies, well it’s also time they grew a pair and stood up to the companies that encourage the bad behaviour!

  • Hwstpdrthy? says:

    Wow! I don’t think I have read one positive comment on this blog topic. What a great way to start a long lasting and healthy relationship between the government and their selected agencies. I’ll give 10:1 odds on failure.

    Long live driving companies/organisations by cost not value!