Department of Health brings McKinsey on board for vaccine roll-out

11 April 2021 3 min. read
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McKinsey & Company has scored a number of new government contracts, including work on a consulting project for Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.

Global consulting giant McKinsey & Company has joined a number of other big-name advisory firms brought in by the federal government for its Covid-19 vaccination roll-out. According to tender documents, McKinsey will support the Department of Health on a two month ‘information technology consultation services’ roll-out related project until the end of April. The extended contract is worth $3 million.

While McKinsey has previously performed some work on the roll-out around strategic planning, consultancy and professional services on the massive undertaking have mostly been led by PwC and Accenture, the prior as the Department of Health’s program delivery partner. While PwC is noted to have pulled in $1.6 million for a month’s of support services covering most of March, the full extent of the firm’s contract is unclear.

Department of Health brings McKinsey on board for vaccine roll-out

Accenture will meanwhile earn $7.8 million as the roll-out program’s primary digital and data lead, tasked with designing and developing software to track vaccine supplies from arrival through to injection, while also monitoring for any possible adverse reactions among recipients. Ernst & Young has also been involved, contracted for $1 million to assess Australia’s vaccine system readiness and provide advice on onshore manufacturing.

McKinsey’s involvement in Australia’s Covid response and vaccination agenda mirrors a number of other countries around the world. In the UK, McKinsey has banked at least €1.5 million in government support projects, including assessing the NHS’s test and trace capacity, while the firm is also said to have generated $100 million worth of Covid contracts in the US. McKinsey has further aided France’s vaccine roll-out to the tune of €4 million.

With the immunisation program initially stumbling in France, McKinsey and public sector consulting in general was hit with fierce criticism. Closer to home, PwC and Accenture have yet to face much in the way of public scrutiny for their potential roles in Australia’s sluggish roll-out and state government criticism over the lack of granular data. Yet, it’s impossible to know if these failures have been down to consulting slips or poor federal government directives.

One clue may be in another of the public consulting contracts recently awarded to McKinsey, this time for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The $2.4 million three month deal will see McKinsey looking at ways to maximise "economic and social" opportunities as the vaccine roll-out progresses, by providing “research and analysis, project management, strategic policy advice and communications products”.

Additionally, the strategy consulting firm has been awarded a third, three month tender through Austrade to help ‘reimagine tourism’ – the $1.6 million contract taking the total recent pot to over $7 million.

Analysis of AusTender contracts shows that McKinsey has increased its government consulting take by almost 180 percent last year, from ~$18 million in 2019 to around $50 million. The hefty increase was seen across the board among the biggest firms.