West Midlands Police is paying consultants almost £500,000 – as it cuts hundreds of jobs to save £126 million.
The payments – to study "the culture of the force" and the "experience of the customer" – were condemned as "entirely wrong" by a Birmingham MP who accused the force of "frittering away cash".
Steve McCabe, who represents Labour for Selly Oak and sits on the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "The force is facing the biggest cuts in its history and this year is the worst year of all.
"This is entirely the wrong time to be frittering away cash on consultants. How is all this money available for consultants when we are losing police officers hand over fist?
"I am astonished they need to bring in outside people to tell them about their own culture.
"It would be helpful if the force could provide a succinct briefing of what it is paying consultants to do.
"The Select Committee took evidence on the issue of consultants at the force and the Chief Constable was not able to explain what they do."
Details of the spending – a total of £485,000 – emerged in a report to the West Midlands Police Authority.
The document, called "external expertise to support key programmes, projects and initiatives" sets out plans to spend the cash after the force conceded it could not do the work in-house.
The projected costs include a £75,000 budget for a review of customer service and £80,000 for finding out more about the "customer journey".
A sum of £70,000 was set aside to conduct a study on the culture of the force. The culture audit will include workshops with staff. The report said the consultants would "discover details of the current culture at the force and analyse the valuable and distinctive features of the current culture for retention and development".
In March, the force announced more than 300 jobs would be axed, including 85 police officer posts.
A first wave of cuts was made last year and led to the loss of 173 police officer posts and 217 civilian jobs as the organisation faces £126 million-worth of budget cuts.
Ian Edwards, chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: "I would question spending this amount of money on consultants when we are losing so many police officers.
"I have no idea what the studies are, but I will certainly be interested to find out."
And another Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood, (Lab, Perry Barr) said: "It’s a lot of money that could be used to keep police officers in their posts.
"I am bemused that we have to bring people in. Surely there are senior officers within the force that can write reports about the culture inside the force?"
No comment was available from West Midlands Police when contacted about the projects.