BCG gets $11.5m for Vic digital contact tracing

James Riley

Boston Consulting Group was paid more than $11 million over three months to digitise the Victorian government’s paper-based COVID-19 contact tracing system late last year and implement Salesforce’s customer relations management platform.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which also worked on the federal government’s COVIDSafe contact tracing app, was awarded the contract by the Victorian government at the end of October last year, replacing its rival Deloitte in the role.

Deloitte had already been paid nearly $5 million over two and a half months to start the implementation project that quickly experienced “complications and challenges”.

Contact tracing: Big payday for Boston Consulting Group and Salesforce

Tender documents recently posted reveal the full financial and contract details of the implementation of a Salesforce CRM platform to digitise Victoria’s COVID-19 contact tracing system, replacing the existing Public Health Event Surveillance System (PHESS), which was mostly based on pen and paper and reliant on fax machines.

In total, the state paid more than $20 million for the new digital contact tracing system, with the bulk of the money going towards large consultancy firms BCG and Deloitte, along with Salesforce and Contino.

Under the contract for the “second phase” of the project, BCG played a lead role, and only subcontracting work to Salesforce and UK tech consultancy Contino.

Work had already begun to implement Salesforce’s platform in August, with Deloitte awarded a contract for “implementation, enhancement and support” of the Digital Trace, Test and Isolate platform.

But after initial “complications and challenges”, Deloitte was replaced in the role by BCG, which was awarded a two-month contract that was extended for a further month to make it run up until 23 January this year.

Deloitte’s contract, worth $4,935,500, came to an end on 7 November, two weeks after BCG was brought in to fix the implementation.

There may have been some hitches in the second phase too though, with Contino recently awarded a $175,00, three-week contract for “support to clear defect backlog” on the same system.

The 30-page contract between the Victorian government and BCG details how the large consultancy will deliver implementation services, development services and professional services on the contact tracing app.

BCG was quickly provided with handover documents from Deloitte on the work completed on the system already.

The new digital platform is centred on COVID-19 case, contact and outbreak management and was designed to help the state government reach its goal of 90 percent of active confirmed cases being completed within 48 hours.

It details how the new contract was designed to overcome the “complications and challenges of the first phase”, which was tendered to Deloitte. This was done through changing the delivery accountabilities to the BCG consortium of Salesforce and Contino, with clearer accountabilities and a streamlined decision-making process.

BCG provided a lead role and filled a “critical subject matter expert resources gap”, with Salesforce handed more responsibility this time around and Contino providing additional resources.

The contract required the consortium to focus on off-the-shelf functionality by default rather than custom builds, with the work to be completed “as quickly as possible”.

Within four weeks, BCG was required to deliver 49 full and partial features, build the data integration and reporting features and began work on critical path data migration and reporting.

While BCG’s contract has now ended, Contino was awarded a further contract worth nearly $3.8 million from early January to the end of June for “ongoing support and development” on the contact tracing platform.

The UK-based consultancy was also recently awarded another contract for “support to clear defect backlog” on the platform, running for just three weeks to early March and worth $175,000.

On top of its subcontractor role, Salesforce was paid $1.8 million by the state for software licences for its contact tracing CRM platform. On the same day, Mulesoft was awarded $431,000 for a one-year deal to provide software for the new system.

The Victorian government has now paid more than $20 million for the design and implementation of its new digital contract tracing platform over the last six months.

BCG also played a prominent role in the development of COVIDSafe, with the firm paid $1 million for work on the controversial contact tracing app.

Salesforce first pitched its digital solution to the state government in March last year, but Victoria did not opt to implement it until August, five months later. This delay was criticised by a parliamentary inquiry into Victoria’s contact tracing system.

“However capable the current contact tracing solution is, it was not available when the Victorian public needed it. This failure cost lives and was unable to be rectified without strict lockdown measures throughout the state,” the committee’s report said.

“The committee views the reluctance by the Victorian government to concede or acknowledge errors as a contributing factor in the substantial delays in the implementation of a suitable contact tracing management system.

“Furthermore, the committee notes that this lack of humility has the capacity to hinder progress by limiting opportunities for collaboration or building off developments made in other jurisdictions.”

The Victorian government told the inquiry it did not go with the Salesforce option initially as it would be a “major project requiring significant resourcing”.

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1 Comment
  1. Almuth Hauptmann 3 years ago

    I had wanted to find out if BCG had had a role advising the government on introducing the robodebt system which has now backfired with huge costs. Found no clear indication.

    Digitisation is not the panacea which BCG always makes it out to be. All systems are hackable which is a problem to the average punter whenhe/she is forced to use his/her own devices. Then he/she is responsible, but not when someone else’s system is used. BCG reads as if they are the salesforce of IT companies.

    I still use paper rego, not QR. I am not interested in spending 20/30 $ a month on subscribing to a data connection which I do not otherwise need. If BCG had received consultancy fees for setting up the robodebt system, that money needs to be paid back.

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