The federal government is paying American tech giant Accenture nearly $2.5 million per month for work on its digital identity service.
At the start of the year, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) awarded Accenture a $12 million contract for a “digital identity piece of work”. Before the contract had even been posted publicly it was amended to increase the value by $2 million. It was then posted on AusTender at the end of March.
Accenture’s digital identity contract with the ATO is now worth $14,904,488.39 million, and runs from 1 January to 30 June this year.
This means Accenture, a tech giant founded in the US but domiciled in Ireland, is being paid $550,000 per week, or more than $100,000 per working day, for the digital identity job.
Accenture has been contracted to assist with the delivery of the ATO’s digital identity work program, a spokesperson said, which includes developing new functionality and prioritised enhancements for its digital identity service myGovID, which sits within the federal government’s broader digital identity program.
“The services to be provided by Accenture under this contract include contribution to both the ATO’s internal programs and the Digital Transformation Agency-led digital identity program,” the ATO spokesperson told InnovationAus.
There are currently 70 Accenture staff members working on this ATO project, the spokesperson said, but this number will vary across the contract’s timeframe.
The digital identity work program includes new functionality for myGovID and the Relationship and Authorisation Manager, along with tech support for migration of applications to the cloud and transition to the new secure integrated gateway.
The ATO spokesperson also said the contract was amended and its value increased by $2 million in order to expand its scope to include additional analytics models.
It comes after the ATO awarded UK company iProov an $11 million contract to provide a “liveliness solution” for myGovID earlier this year. This contract will run for at least the next three years.
The ATO is the leading agency for the development of the government’s own digital identity service, myGovID, which is now widely available.
myGovID has now been integrated with myGov, and can also be used with the Unique Student Identifier Portal, the Relationship Authorisation Manager and a range of other business services.
It’s part of the government’s wider digital identity program, which aims to create a whole-of-government federated digital identity ecosystem, with participation from state and territory governments and the private sector.
This project had been led by the Digital Transformation Agency, but was transferred to Services Australia earlier this year.
The ATO has been developing myGovID under this project for several years, and it was launched in beta form last year.
Last year security researchers alerted the ATO to a “flaw” in the myGovID protocol that could allow an attacker to trick a user into handing over access to their account and control of their linked government services.
The ATO has said it is aware of this issue but that it is a public awareness issue rather than a flaw with its system, and it will not be changed.
In a further submission to government, the security researchers said that myGovID has an “extremely brittle architecture that would allow for large-scale identity fraud if that one component comes under the control of a malicious party”.
The digital identity program received a further $250 million in funding in last year’s federal budget, more than doubling the project’s overall cost.
It is another significant contract that Accenture has landed with the ATO in the last 18 months. In 2020, the tech firm won two contracts each worth more than $40 million with the tax office, for a computer services single touch payroll and for “ITX / ITAPS performance testing piece of work”.
Accenture received about $187.5 million from the ATO last year, accounting for more than half of its overall government work.
In total, Accenture was paid $358.4 million by the government in 2020, up nearly 15 per cent from the previous year. The overall contract value won by Accenture last year was $786.4 million.
Accenture was also recently awarded a one-month contract worth more than $245,000 to develop policy framework for the Digital Transformation Agency.