ALMOST £1 million was spent last year on consultancy, legal and professional services by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).
New figures reveal that the Stormont department's consultancy bill was almost £300,000, while other professional costs ran to more than £700,000 during 2014-15.
The latter included more than £200,000 in legal costs, and almost £50,000 in audit and accountancy fees.
However, the biggest share - £303,460 - was describe as 'other professional costs'.
The figures were released in answer to an assembly question from TUV leader Jim Allister.
He said that "more transparency" was needed from OFMDFM.
"The figures - especially that of the 'other professional costs' - are pretty hefty," he said.
"There needs to me more transparency in explaining what these costs involve.
"Obviously there's a role for consultants and we have seen over the years that these costs have been reduced.
"But there is more transparency needed for us to understand what the money is being spent on."
OFMDFM, which employs almost 400 civil servants, had last night still not responded to a request for details of the 'other professional costs'.