The Department of Industry will pay two US board giants nearly $ 2 million in just over a month for ‘basic’ departmental work, with the public sector union claiming it ‘wastes money’ and ‘undermines’ public service.
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources paid US consultancy giant Boston Consulting Group nearly $ 400,000 for a week’s work alone in September to provide advice on its “job offers.” support “.
In the same week, a contract was made public revealing that the department would pay consulting giant McKinsey $ 1.3 million over just over a month to give advice on using the technology to reduce shows.
Both contracts relate to the work of the Basic Industry Department and have been labeled by the public sector union as “a waste of money and undermining the role” of the public service.
” These last [industry department] contracts are another example of something we see over and over again: the government uses outside consultants for the work the public service can and should do, âthe deputy national secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union told InnovationAus, Michael Tull.
âIt is wasting money and undermining the role and reputation of the public service for government to outsource this work. “
The contract with Boston Consulting Group was for $ 385,000 and ran from September 16 to 24, which is just seven business days. It has been listed as simply for “professional advice”.
A spokesperson for the industry department said the consultant was hired to “provide specialist professional advice to ensure that offers of assistance meet the objectives and meet the needs of the industry.”
McKinsey will receive $ 1.3 million from September 27 to November 8 from the ministry for “professional services.”
The spokesperson told InnovationAus that the job was to provide “expert professional advice and analysis on the technology’s potential to reduce Australia’s emissions.”
It comes just weeks before the Glasgow climate summit, and as Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in negotiations with the Nationals to reach an agreement on a net zero commitment.
Mr Tull said this important work should be done internally in the public sector.
âThere is substantial expertise in the public sector on emission reductions and we have seen recent detailed reports on the issue from CSIRO and others,â he said.
“These issues around the use of consultants are serious at all times, but especially for politically charged topics like climate change and reducing emissions.”
Earlier this year, the Industry Department entered into two contracts worth a total of just under $ 2 million with PwC to review aspects of its business operations and corporate services, including the potential automation of parts of its operations by the end of the year.
According to the opposition, this was another worrying sign of the “stealth privatization” of the department and the civil service at large by the coalition government.
The over-reliance of departments on consultants is also of concern in terms of the type of advice provided and the lack of transparency about such advice, Tull said.
âMinisters like to go to consultants because they can be sure they will get the answers or the results they want. This is of course deeply at odds with our system of government, according to which the civil service is responsible for providing frank and courageous advice and can mean that the minister receives good advice and not just the advice he wants â, a- he declared.
âThe other issue here is transparency. To be frank, it is easier for the government to bury a consultant’s report than it is to hide the advice of a department. Departments have to deal with estimates [hearings] and consultants don’t.
Last week, the Australia Institute released new analysis showing the federal government spends $ 1 billion each year on consultants, funds that could create 12,000 more jobs in the public sector.
The organization called on the Senate to use its powers to demand that the reports of these consultants prepared for the government be tabled in Parliament and made public.
“Forcing the work done by consultants to be made public would be an improvement over the status quo, although there remains the underlying problem that consultants are doing an unprecedented amount of public work,” said Bill Browne, author of the report and the Australia Institute Democracy and Accountability Program Principal Investigator.
âWhile such an order would not solve all the problems associated with the growing reliance on consultants, it would be an important first step. “
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