Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in ATO decision-making. In assessing the need for consultants, we focused on:
- ensuring that engagements support agreed priority areas of work of the ATO in line with the corporate plan and reinvention program
- implementing strategies to reduce cost and achieve greater efficiencies, through engagements where we require consultants or contractors to supplement our internal expertise or resource capacity.
During 2015–16, we entered into 282 new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $20 million. In addition, 109 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the 2015–16 year, involving total actual expenditure of $14 million.
The increase in consultancy expenditure in 2015–16 is partly attributable to the significant increase in work on the taxpayer experience, particularly through the provision of new online services.
For consultancies entered into in previous years, the most significant expenditure in 2015–16 involved consultancies relating to:
- building a high performance culture
- the provision of expertise and advice in relation to IT procurement
- project management and consultancy support for strategic programs
- supporting software asset management across the ATO.
For new contracts awarded in 2015–16, the consultancies involved expenditure relating to:
- improving the stability and performance of the ATO Online system in preparation for Tax Time 2016
- strategic planning – to provide assistance and development services for various ATO strategic initiatives including the ATO Reinvention program and the Single Touch Payroll initiative
- provision of strategic advisory services to support the ATO’s IT Infrastructure transformation program
- development of a cash flow management education package for small business.
In addition, a contract was awarded relating to the Functional and Efficiency Review as required by the Department of Finance Contestability Program.
Providers of consultancy services are selected through open tender, pre-qualified tender, limited tender or from an established panel arrangement.
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website at tenders.gov.au.