Government agencies are being accused of playing "fast and loose" with taxpayer money, as they plan to spend almost $23 million on the fit out of two new central city offices in Christchurch.

The $13 million Grand Central building fit out and the $9.87 million BNZ Centre fit out both add up to more than $1600 per square metre.

According to Colliers International estimates, fit out for standard office space should cost between $550 and $900 per square metre.

"That cost is for "hard fit out" and does not include the cost of furniture, which is included in the Government estimates."


The revelation comes after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was slammed for its $16m Wellington office fit out last year, which included more than $140,000 spent on a curved LED screen and $67,000 on a stone sign.

MBIE is one of three agencies moving into the Grand Central building, with about 550 staff between them based there. About 420 staff from nine agencies will be housed in the BNZ Centre.

Labour state services spokesman Kris Faafoi said more care was needed with public money.

"The issue here is a discrepancy between what is normal and what is being spent, and when you look at the likes of MBIE, with big screens and expensive fit outs, unfortunately the Government has got a track record here."

He said State Services Minister Paula Bennett had claimed the move to the central city would would save a significant amount of money, but when pressed in a select committee meeting could not say how much.

The fit out costs include things like furniture, building partitions or meeting rooms, and the cost of moving.

MBIE chief financial officer Stewart McRobie said he could not provide details, because final decisions on things like furniture purchases had not yet been made.

But he said of MBIE's $4.3m share of the cost, $949,000 was budgeted for furniture and $40k for moving and re-installing equipment.

He could not say how much furniture or equipment from the old building would be reused.

"Final decisions on the furniture have not yet been made, but MBIE intends to reuse furniture where this makes sense and is efficient. Where it's practical to do so, we will look at options to donate or sell furniture."

The budget includes more than $5000 each for "collaboration acoustic booth" sofas.
He said he could not say exactly how much the booths cost, or how many would be purchased.

But he said the booths were cheaper than the cost of building, wiring and fitting out additional meeting rooms.

The move is part of the Christchurch Integrated Government Accommodation programme, which aims to move 1500 government workers from 15 different agencies into the central city.