‘Huge waste of money’: BCG paid 50k a day for policy advice

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Industry department paid consulting giant Boston Consulting Group nearly $400,000 for a little over one week of “professional advice and input” on what appears to be core departmental work, drawing sharp criticism from the Opposition on Tuesday.

The work, described by the government only as “a review of the portfolio’s program suite” was conducted over eight days in September and produced an interim and final report.

First reported by InnovationAus last month, the contract drew the ire of the public sector union, which said the work should have been done in-house and warned the use of consultancies is “undermining the role” of the public sector.

Labor Senator and shadow minister for finance Katy Gallagher is scrutinising the increased use of consultancies by the government. Image: Twitter

Labor sought more information on the contract which paid Boston Consulting Group $385,000 for a period covering just over one working week and was based entirely on outputs rather than an hourly rate.

“Boston Consulting Group (BCG) provided specialist professional advice and input into a review of the portfolio’s program suite,” Industry minister Angus Taylor said in a written response published on Monday.

Mr Taylor said the BCG’s work complemented the department’s and provided an “independent perspective” on the program review, which is being used to “inform policy advice to Ministers and Cabinet”.

Labor Senator and shadow minister for Finance Katy Gallagher has been requesting more information about the government’s consulting and labour hire contracts.

She told InnovationAus the results are concerning, including the short-term BCG program review.

“$385,000 for just 8 days’ work is an extraordinary amount of public money to be spent on a review of the department’s programs,” Ms Gallagher said.

“I think most Australians would think that almost $50,000 per day to do work the department should be able to do themselves is a huge waste of money.”

The public sector union was also highly critical of the use of consultants to review Industry department programs when details emerged last month.

“These latest [industry department] contracts are a further example of something we are seeing time and time again: government using external consultants for work that the public service can and should be doing,” Community and Public Sector Union assistant national secretary Michael Tull told InnovationAus in October.

“It is wasting money and undermining the role and standing of the public service for the government to be contracting this work out.”

BCG has recently been awarded several more short term government contracts, including a $750,000 deal, to provide the Digital Transformation Agency with research papers. The contract nearly tripled less than a week after being signed but the government declined to provide extensive details on the work.

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