The Martin Hoffman-led strategic plan for the federal government’s new Services Australia department has been completed, after consultants were handed nearly $1 million to assist with the six-week project.
The former NSW finance secretary was tasked with developing a “comprehensive strategic plan” for Services Australia, as head of a newly established taskforce.
It was revealed earlier this month by InnovationAus.com that consulting firms McKinsey and KPMG had been called in by the government to help with the strategy, with the pair handed $858,000 for the six week project.
The tender was for 11 July to 23 August, and Mr Hoffman was given until the same date to hand the strategy to government.
“The process is progressing as expected,” a Department of Human Services spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.
The plan will help the government to “deliver on our commitment to service delivery reform for the benefit of all Australians”, government services minister Stuart Robert said.
It will guide the “substantial reform program” involved with the transition to the Services Australia department and reforming how Australians engage with the government.
The creation of Services Australia was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison following the Coalition’s election win earlier this year. The re-badged Department of Human Services will be responsible for service delivery and public service ICT, and will follow in the footsteps of the successful Services NSW model.
McKinsey’s contract with the Department of Human Services in relation to the Hoffman research finished at the end of last week. But a second, $5.9 million contract for business consulting services that was inked in the same month runs for a further three years.
It was revealed that the consultancy giant had pitched for the short-term project at a highly discounted rate, with hopes of receiving more work with the massive department in the future. It is not clear whether the second, three-year arrangements is on a ‘mates rate’ promise.
Labor MP Julian Hill said the involvement of the big consultancies was “deeply concerning” and risks Services Australia having an “expensive, debilitating dependency” on outsourcing.
“No-one can seriously believe that it’s just six weeks of work, that’s just not credible. The extent of the outsourcing and the potential gravy train for high-price consultants in Services Australia is deeply concerning,” Mr Hill told InnovationAus.com.
The Community and Public Sector Union was also highly critical of the outsourcing, saying the large amount of money would’ve been better spent on public sector expertise.
“It’s just more taxpayer money going to line the pockets of big consultancy firms, instead of paying for good services from our government,” CPSU secretary Nadine Flood said.
Mr Robert has said strategy is the first step in the “ambitious reform” that Services Australia will bring.
“Services Australia will bring in a new era in customer service, focused on the needs and expectations of all Australians dealing with government,” he said.