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Goff wants action over recruitment issues

The latest incident involving a high-level public servant being caught out over misrepresenting his past indicates there are systemic recruitment issues that need to be addressed, Labour leader Phil Goff says.The hiring of Stephen Wilce as head of the Def

NZPA
Tue, 14 Sep 2010

The latest incident involving a high-level public servant being caught out over misrepresenting his past indicates there are systemic recruitment issues that need to be addressed, Labour leader Phil Goff says.

The hiring of Stephen Wilce as head of the Defence Technology Agency, and his recent resignation, follows in the footsteps of former Maori Television boss John Davy and former immigration head Mary Anne Thompson, who also made false claims about their past.

Mr Wilce, chief defence scientist for the past five years, resigned last week following an investigation by the 60 Minutes programme, which revealed he made extravagant claims about his background, including that he had a distinguished combat career.

"We've seen too many cases of this, and that indicates a systemic problem and I think that systemic problem needs to be addressed," Mr Goff said today.

He said the first responsibility in the chain of checks in the Wilce case rested with the private recruitment agency -- Momentum Consulting -- and it appeared due diligence had not been done. "That is frankly incompetent and they have got a lot to answer."

Mr Goff said there must have also been slip-ups on the parts of the Defence Force, which employed Mr Wilce, and the SIS, which does background checks before high-level security clearance is granted.

He said it was appropriate that a Defence Force court of inquiry and a State Services Commission investigation were under way and said SIS representatives needed to front up to a select committee and explain themselves.

Mr Goff also said it was a "gross waste of taxpayers' money" that Mr Wilce had recently been put through a course at the Royal College of Defence in London at a cost of $250,000.

Since Mr Wilce's resignation Momentum has said it was confident in the quality of its recruitment systems, but was looking into the issue and would assist with investigations.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday ordered the investigation into processes used by the SIS in granting a security clearance, and along with the Defence Force court of inquiry, a lawyer will also look into the force's recruitment processes.

"We should be able to rely on those processes, what this is showing now is we might not be able to," Mr Key said. "If we're not then we need to understand where those failures are ...a nd do something about it".

 

NZPA
Tue, 14 Sep 2010
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Goff wants action over recruitment issues
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