Pretoria - "Eight national government departments spent R24.6bn on consultants over three years," deputy Auditor General Kimi Makwetu said on Thursday.
"This was 74% of the R33.5bn spent on consultants nationally."
"There is a skills crisis. Where they do not have skills in public sector, they revert to sourcing the skills from private sector," he said.
"To what extent are we getting value from resources from the private sector?"
He was briefing reporters on the Auditor General's performance audit which was conducted on the eight national departments. It also looked at 124 contracts with service providers.
The departments, chosen from 42 nationally, were: correctional services, defence, environmental affairs, health, police, rural development and land reform, transport, and water affairs.
According to the summarised audit outcomes, the defence department spent R10.4bn on consultants from 2008/09 to 2010/11. This was the highest of the eight departments.
All 27 of the contracts correctional services concluded were found to have problems.
"The nature of these significant deficiencies is concerning," Makwetu said.
The environmental affairs and water affairs departments also had a significant number of weaknesses.
Makwetu said the health department was the exception, with successes in some areas. It had spent the least on consultants.
The departments were selected based on the AG's assessments of possible weaknesses in the use of consultants and spending trends.
"The decision was based on historical problems... and ones which are the big spenders" said Makwetu.