Government spending on contractors and consultants has jumped by a massive $300m.
The latest public service workforce data out today shows the full spend of $1.244 billion is a third higher than last year.
It has gone up as a percentage of total staff costs (14.6 percent), when it had been trending down (13.4 percent last year).
The government has for several years been ordering cutbacks on what it called excessive such spending under previous governments.
The Public Service Commission said the latest rise was driven by pandemic spending, reforms to health, water and environment systems, and one-off IT projects.
The Education Ministry's spend was the highest of any agency, at $237m. This includes capital costs for school builds.
But the Health Ministry's spend rose among the fastest, almost tripling to $154m.
Other big spenders, and big risers, were Internal Affairs $112m (up from $87m); MBIE $109m ($90m): MSD $116m ($94m).
Inland Revenue, the biggest spender on contractors in recent years as it overhauled its IT systems, actually dropped from $111m last year to $96m.
The PSC figures cover only 35 core departments and agencies, not the scores of non-core organisations that include some big spenders on contractors such as Police and the Transport Agency.
The commission said the rise in costs arose from "transitioning to a new national health service (health reform), overhauling New Zealand's building and land use planning system (RMA reforms), and improving the quality of our drinking water and the reliability of our stormwater and wastewater systems (Three Waters reform).
"There were also some costs associated with the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care."
The IT costs were for upgrading online access to government services and shifting old systems to cloud-based ones "which are more secure, resilient and cost efficient".