DTA consultant contracts running super hot

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

McKinsey has won a near-$1 million contract to assist with a new visa processing platform being developed by the Digital Transformation Agency, following a failed attempt to outsource the project.

It’s one of several recent contracts the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has handed to large consultancy firms, with four tenders worth more than $1.5 million revealed in the last week.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert announced on Tuesday that the DTA had been handed the task of building a “visas and permits processing capability” as a “government priority”. It followed a botched attempt to outsource a similar platform, the Global Digital Platform, which was finally abandoned earlier this year.

digital people consultants
Consulting crowd: A river of work for consultants out of Canberra

The government has said work on that platform, which cost more than $90 million, will inform the new service. Contractors shared in nearly $65 million in tenders relating to the visa privatisation attempt, with the Boston Consulting Group netting more than $40 million across several years.

Private contractors and consultants will still be involved with the new visas and permits processing platform, with McKinsey landing a tender worth $726,000 to provide “strategic advice” on the new platform.

The contract ran from 25 May to 3 July, with McKinsey receiving nearly $150,000 per week for its advice on the project. It was only posted publicly on AusTender last week.

A spokesperson for the DTA confirmed that McKinsey “informed” the new initiative, which is in its preliminary stages.

McKinsey, along with KPMG, was chosen to lead the strategic design of the new Services Australia department, where the DTA now sits, and is also currently developing a business case for a new myGov update as part of a $1 million contract.

KPMG, another big four consulting house, won a DTA contract last month worth just under $100,000 to work on an “OECD business case playbook” for one month, coming to an end on Thursday. The DTA said KPMG is assisting with “professional services”.

The Boston Consulting Group, which played a prominent role in the DTA’s development of the COVIDSafe contact tracing app has landed another contract, worth $396,000 over six months. The tender, posted earlier this week, is labelled only with “funding options analysis”.

The BCG contract relates to a Digital Marketplace listing from earlier this year for the “provision of subject matter expertise in relation to transformation and the delivery of cases to improve digital services for government”.

“The DTA is successfully providing critical advice, products and services using a taskforce model to improve digital services for government. Through this RFQ we are seeking a partnership arrangement where the seller supports the DTA to integrate across this,” the listing said.

DTA chief Randall Brugeaud is an ex-BCG executive, working at the company from 2008 to 2010, while former DTA chief strategic officer Anthony Vlasic left the DTA to join BCG in February. Mr Vlasic was recently replaced at DTA by a former KPMG executive.

The DTA has also brought in another consultancy firm to help with its work on a new myGov platform, which is being led by Deloitte.

Deloitte has received more than $23 million over six months to develop the new social media-inspired myGov platform, dubbed GovDXP, and also received nearly $1 million to build a prototype of it. Deloitte is currently working on “Horizon 1” of GovDXP, the second stage of its development.

Tier two consultancy Nous has now landed $110,000 for a one-year job to provide project advice and support for the third stage of GovDXP, dubbed “Horizon 2”.

Horizon 2 will be the full version of GovDXP, which will allow users to browse information and government services in a centralised location with a dashboard, profile, inbox and forms, along with a Netflix-style recommendations service.

Mr Robert on Tuesday announced that the beta version of GovDXP was now online for any to opt in to use on myGov.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who established the DTA during his time in the top office, recently raised concerns with the Australian Public Service’s over-reliance on private contractors and consultants.

“You’ve basically had this ‘cult of consultant’ to the point where the skills for doing so many things that are really core business are no longer in the public service,” Mr Turnbull told InnovationAus earlier this year.

“It’s worse in some departments more than others, but the consultants who obviously make a fortune are, frankly, doing quite a bit of damage to the public service,” he said.

“They’re not doing it on purpose, I’m not saying that, but those smart people with those skills and those interests should actually be in the public service. You should only be using consultants to do things that are a little bit exotic, where you need a specialist expertise.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

1 Comment
  1. Chris Drake 4 years ago

    The public service culture of blaming their own mistakes on the private sector, so they can build a case to enlarge their own empires has reached an entirely new low.

    I especially love how they use “senate inquiries” and their refusal to invite public sector in to either comment or enjoy right-of -reply in the process whereby they write their own recommendations to get what they want.

    The art of scamming senators is so well oiled.

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