More than $90 million was spent by government on its failed plan to privatise the visa processing system, but the Boston Consulting Group still came up trumps, landing nearly half of the cash through the process.
Earlier this year the federal government quietly announced it had shelved plans to bring in a private sector company to develop a new visa processing system, dubbed the Global Digital Platform.
This was three years after the plan was first announced, and more than a year after a Request for Tender had been issued.
In an answer to a Senate Estimates question on notice, the Home Affairs department confirmed it spent $91.935 million on the failed plan, with a large chunk of this going towards private consultants.
The money was spent on the design and procurement of the digital platform, including co-design and development of business requirements, the Request for Tender processes, probity, legal and assurance, ICT readiness and the development of business rules.
Nearly $65 million of the money spent went to outside contractors, with the rest allocated internally in the department.
Of the contractors, the Boston Consulting Group received the majority of the spending, netting $43.528 million for its near-five years work helping with the doomed plan, or more than $8 million a year.
Boston Consulting Group is a prolific government contractor and regularly works with the Department of Home Affairs. It was brought in by Home Affairs in March to assist with the development of the COVIDSafe contact tracing app, receiving $220,000 work.
It continued to work on the technology when it passed on to the Digital Transformation Agency, through a contract worth $484,000 for just three weeks’ work.
Earlier this year DTA chief strategic officer Anthony Vlasic left the agency – which oversees government technology procurement policy – to join Boston Consulting Group.
Big four accountancy firm KPMG landed a $7.923 million for three years’ work on the visa privatisation scheme, while Ernst & Young and PRAGMA received just over $2 million each.
MinterEllison got $2.694 million for three years of consulting on the project, while McGrathNicol and Maddocks landed $0.692 million and $0.846 million respectively.
Other firms that were also contracted to help with the visa privatisation scheme included Neotic, MXA, Ngamuru and Strategy&.
The Coalition in March announced a “broad new approach” to the plan and that the Request for Tender had been terminated.
It said that the work that has already been done, which cost more than $90 million, would be utilised and extended to other areas in specifying the requirements for an integrated, enterprise-scale workflow capability that can be used across government, not just in Home Affairs.