Nick Hurd, the shadow third sector minister, has called the Charity Commission's recruitment practices "extravagant" after it emerged that the regulator spent almost £450,000 on recruitment last year.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Hurd, Andrew Hind, chief executive of the commission, said the regulator had paid recruitment consultants £445,380 in the financial year 2008/09.
The bulk of this went to two consulting companies: £197,157 to the Bernard Hodes Group and £126,862 to TMP (UK) Ltd.
Most of the money was spent on placing advertisements through the recruitment companies for the 86 members of staff recruited during the year.
"We obviously want the Charity Commission to attract and retain the right people," said Hurd. "However, this is a big number and feels extravagant at a time when the taxpayer expects rigour and efficiency."
A spokeswoman for the commission said that 2008/09 had been an "exceptional period for recruitment activity" as a result of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review. As well as strategic organisational changes, new posts were filled to strengthen the commission's compliance activities, she said.
She said £323,000 was spent on print and online advertisements and 86 new members of staff were hired during this period. Of these, 12 were "strategically important or specialist roles", including the head of Charity Commission Direct.
"As recruiting for these roles requires a more targeted process involving dedicated firms, the cost was higher than that of filling the other vacancies," she said.
She added that a dedicated careers website, built by the Bernard Hodes Group at a cost of £15,000, was leading to savings of £100,000 a year on advertising costs and had reduced the 2009/10 recruitment budget to £200,000.
As of the end of February, the spokeswoman said, the commission had spent a total of £145,734 on recruitment in 2009/10.