Audit office looks at Accenture’s $60m in permissions capability contracts


Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The national audit office has turned its attention to the federal government’s procurement of the permissions capability, which has seen more than $60 million handed to Irish-domiciled consulting giant Accenture across a number of contracts.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has launched its inquiry into the procurement of the permissions capability, a platform used initially for incoming digital passenger declaration cards which will eventually be used across government.

The audit will cover the Department of Home Affairs and Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), and will look at whether the procurement process employed “open and effective competition and achieved value for money”, in line with government procurement rules.

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The government’s permissions capability procurement is set for an audit (Credit B.Zhou / Shutterstock.com)

It will be tasked with finding out whether the procurement process for the permissions capability was open, competitive, fair and non-discriminatory, and if value for money was demonstrably achieved.

The DTA issued a tender for the permissions capability in late 2020. Nearly a year later it was announced that Irish-domiciled tech giant Accenture had been selected to deliver the permissions capability.

Accenture was awarded a standing offer notice for the work, and a number of contracts related to it have since been made public.

Accenture has been awarded contracts worth more than $60 million for work on the permissions capability and its first function, the Digital Passenger Declaration.

Canberra consultancy Synergy has also landed a $6.4 million contract for program management relating to the work, while other consultancies have previously been paid $13 million in total.

Accenture’s contracts include the base permissions capability platform, third-party component re-sale, discovery and co-design, and one specifically for the Digital Passenger Declaration.

The 2020-21 budget allocated $74.9 million for the project, but more than this has already been handed out through the contracts. Further funding was allocated in last year’s MYEFO but was kept secret due to “commercial in confidence sensitivities”.

The ANAO will begin accepting submissions on this process at the end of July, with its final report due by the end of the year.

The permissions capability will eventually handle incoming visa processing.

It’s not the first time the federal government has attempted to go to the market for this project, with a previous attempt scrapped in early 2020 after more than $90 million had already been spent.

The procurement process for that attempt became mired in conflict of interest concerns, with no successful bidder selected before it was canned.

Accenture’s Digital Passenger Declaration launched last month, serving to digitise Covid-19 declarations of incoming passengers. Subsequent releases of the platform will serve to digitise the paper-based incoming passenger cards.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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