Big Four win millions in government consulting contracts

09 May 2021 4 min. read
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The Big Four have followed a bumper 2020 in federal public sector work with a swag of new government consulting and professional services contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars so far this year.

Despite a Covid-ravaged economy, each of the Big Four of Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC last year managed to maintain or grow their revenues on 2019 – with lucrative government contracts a major factor in the positive figures. Consulting spend at the federal level among the Big Four alone amounted to more than $750 million last year, with all of the firms bar PwC up by at least 20 percent in the segment – including Deloitte by almost 40 percent.

And the good times roll on. While a fair portion of last year’s boost came courtesy of the government’s Covid-response measures – PwC for example appointed the lead delivery partner for the vaccination roll-out – the economic recovery phase is seeing a wide range of tenders awarded to the Big Four at both the federal and state levels since the beginning of the year – with some of the contracts running into the tens of millions of dollars.

Federal government spending on the Big Four

Among the biggest, EY was named lead contractor among a consortium of professional services firms on a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade contract worth $67 million. The two-year tender, currently running until the end of 2022, will see the firm evaluate Australia’s Infrastructure Initiative for Southeast Asia, with the government last year having announced some $550 million in recovery and development aid spending across the region.

The firm also won a $17.8 million management advisory bid for a three-month inland rail supply chain project with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. Other large contracts over the past months include $2.4 million for personnel services for the Department of Agriculture, $1.8 million in temporary personnel services for the ACCC, and $2.4 million for strategic planning for the Finance department.

KPMG has meanwhile bagged roughly $6.5 million in published contracts since the beginning of April for the Defence department, covering a variety of services including strategic planning and construction support. The latest contracts follow more than $30 million doled out to KPMG by the Defence department over February and March. The firm has also been advising Services Australia on an 18-month contract worth over $6 million.

Revenue of the Big Four in Australia 2016-2020

The Department of Defence has also recently enlisted Deloitte to aid it with various undertakings worth tens of millions of dollars. Among the larger contracts are over $7 million worth of work published this week but most of it already completed, a ten-month $4.7 million technology contract to cut the cost of maintaining defence systems, $3.4 million over three years for workforce analysis and design services, and $8.7 million for policy development for Navy Strategic Command.

Deloitte will also provide computer services to the Australian Signals Directorate – which sits within the Department of Defence – to the tune of almost $1.5 million, and has been working on the drought resilience self-assessment tool project for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, worth over $3 million to July next year. The firm was further selected by the Reserve Bank for a $3.5 million implementation over the next seven years.

PwC – the largest of the Big Four in Australia but the one which grew the least in both government contracts and overall revenues last year – has had over $10 million in Defence department contracts published over the past fortnight, backing up on more than $10 million awarded earlier this year. In addition, the firm is currently working on sizeable projects for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Social Services, and the BOM.