The federal government will pay Accenture a further $7 million to make “modest enhancements” to its vaccine ordering system, after the global consulting giant was paid $8 million to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine data solution.
Late last year Health minister Greg Hunt announced that Accenture had been contracted to be the federal government’s digital and data lead for the vaccine rollout. This work was worth $7.8 million and involved the Ireland-domiciled firm developing a software solution to track the vaccine from arrival to injection.
The solution is meant to offer “point in time” visibility of the vaccine doses across the entire supply chain, including receipt of the vaccine by health services, the vaccination of patients and the monitoring of any adverse reactions.
The Health department said this solution was delivered in February this year.
But there have been ongoing concerns about the extremely limited amount of data being provided publicly on the vaccine rollout in Australia, with the department only publishing an infographic with basic information on an ad-hoc basis.
The latest vaccine rollout update, published on Thursday, included data on the total number of vaccines administered, a breakdown state-by-state, international comparisons, and statistics for aged care and primary care.
The government has now awarded Accenture a new contract worth $6.7 million for “vaccine data solution enhancements and support”. The Department of Health signed this deal at the end of May, and it will run until 22 October.
Accenture has provided its ordering system for vaccines to the Commonwealth for several years, and the new contract relates to work to make this platform work with the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination rollout, a Health department spokesperson said.
“The ordering solution requires several changes, recognising the differences between ordinary vaccine distribution compared to the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, such as the staged expansion of the program through the phases,” the spokesperson told InnovationAus.
“Plus the inclusion of GPs, the aged care and disability in-reach, Commonwealth clinics, and state and territory clinics. This work will continue as more points of presence such as pharmacies are included, as well as the major expansion of the rollout with increased supply in quarter four.
“The contract extends the work to develop and enhance these systems, along with support arrangements to ensure the systems remain stable.”
The Accenture vaccine data solution, which is in use in the US as well, is based on Salesforce technology, and includes a vaccine management and tracking platform, supply management, community education and engagement, contact management and analytics and reporting.
Large global consultants have played a prominent role in the Australian government’s response to Covid-19 and the subsequent vaccine rollout, with many landing lucrative contracts.
PwC was appointed in December last year as the program delivery partner for the vaccine rollout.
Fellow large consultancy McKinsey has also landed a number of contracts relating to mRNA vaccines, including to develop a business case for the establishment of a local manufacturing capability and to advise on the procurement process for this.
A further $2 million contract with McKinsey to assist with the vaccine rollout was signed by the Health department late last year, but kept hidden until recent weeks, with the government blaming human error.
Many contracts are also not being posted publicly, with a Health spokesperson confirming that procurements of Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and related goods and services are exempt from public reporting rules.
As InnovationAus reported, spending on global consulting firms increased by nearly 25 per cent in 2020 during the pandemic, with more than $1.21 billion spent in the calendar year.
KPMG’s work with the Health department jumped by more than a threefold, while the Boston Consulting Group was paid millions of dollars for its work on the COVIDSafe contact tracing app.
The federal government’s spend with Accenture reached $358.4 million in 2020, up nearly 15 per cent from the previous year. The overall value of contracts landed by the Irish-headquartered firm totalled $786.4 million.
Accenture is also currently being paid $2.5 million per month for its work on the Australian Taxation Office’s digital identity program, under a contract worth more than $14 million across the first six months of 2021.