Herding Cats – Managing Consultants and Contractors

The Auditor General of the Australian State of Victoria recently released a very interesting report on managing consultants and contractors.

As the introduction to the report noted:

Departments often use contractors and consultants to provide advice about how to best realise government policy goals. While the costs of these advisory engagements are usually small relative to the service and infrastructure decisions they inform, they are critical because they help shape and direct these much larger expenditures to deliver better outcomes.

In addition, the community rightly expects that departments are able to demonstrate high levels of integrity and value-for-money outcomes when using public funds.

Clearly the engagement of consultants and contractors is not something specific to the public sector so the lessons from this well written report are universal.

The standard that the Auditor General  sought to assess in the demonstration of integrity and value for money were:

  • good planning—documenting the essential planning work used to justify the use of external resources, identify risks and choose a preferred procurement
  • effective tendering and appointments—applying processes clearly aligned with requirements of consistent, fair and transparent treatment, and delivering outcomes consistent with or exceeding the planned value proposition
  • sound engagement management—showing how progress had been monitored, deliverables tracked and risks appropriately managed
  • comprehensive evaluation—completing a post-implementation review confirming the intended outputs and outcomes and applying the lessons learned.

The Auditor General noted:

In this audit I found that four selected departments were unable to demonstrate consistently that their advisory engagements had been well planned, effectively procured, well managed, comprehensively evaluated and transparently reported.

It would appear that the report has lead to an upgrading of the relevant processes but there is an ominous warning:

We are concerned at the absence of a formal process across government to evaluate the impacts of procurement reform, address emerging issues and reinforce demonstrated benefits.


Download PDF


Subscribe to Receive Our Email Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.