Australia Defence cracks down on private consultants

In response to criticism of practice, the government of Australia is taking steps to put an end to the “revolving door” that exists between the Department of Defense and private consultants.

According to reports from the media, the Defense Department has reportedly implemented a new ban on engaging in contracts with people who have left the organization within the previous year.

According to official contract notices, the department spent more than $1.3 billion on temporary employees and recruitment services during the 2022-23 fiscal year. This comes after the department spent that much money.

In spite of this, it is anticipated that it will cut at least $154 million off of its final cost during this fiscal year as it tries to implement the savings objective that the federal government has set.

The new rule prohibits “above the line” or private contract arrangements, which refer to jobs or responsibilities that an employee of the Australian public service or member of the Australian defence force is qualified to carry out.

Greg Moriarty, who is the secretary of the Department of Defence; as well as General Angus Campbell, the chief of the Australian Defense Force, issued a joint directive in which they outlined the moratorium in its entirety.

This decision, which went into effect on August 7th, was made in advance of the episode of ABC Four Corners that would air the following week and is anticipated to feature an emphasis on the utilization of independent contractors.

It is believed that there are some exceptions to the embargo, such as where it is regarded to be “for commercial necessity to meet the capability needs of the Defense.” Other potential exemptions include situations involving “compassion,” for example.

It is generally accepted that the plans of Defense will result in a reduction of external labour of 2,000 persons by the end of 2024.

This comes after the budget for 2023-2024 projected $632 million in savings by decreasing external labour, advertising, travel, and legal expenses from the Department of Defense over the course of four years, including $154 million for this particular, fiscal year.

It is believed that the Department of Defense intends to achieve these savings by, among other things, decreasing its reliance on external or private labour and increasing its level of investment in the public service workforce.

Within the Department of Defense, the plans call for the conversion of 1,029 contractor or consultant posts into public service roles.

It was revealed earlier this year by the finance minister Katy Gallagher that the previous Coalition government spent more than $20.8 billion on outsourced work during its final year in office. The Albanese government has pledged to reduce the reliance that the public sector has on this type of work.

A report from Australia published earlier this week disclosed that the minister’s department had engaged in a consultancy contract for the sum of $32,000 in order to receive advice regarding the manner in which it should communicate with another external consultant.

The ethics adviser, Simon Longstaff, was described as having “significant knowledge and expertise in the field of ethics” by a representative for the finance department.

According to the statement made by the spokesperson, “Longstaff’s experience and expertise is supplementing the expertise that the commonwealth has in considering matters of this nature,” including in relation to the necessary action that may be taken.

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