Over the last decade, the big four consultancy firms have faced accusations of “lowball quoting” to secure federal government contracts, leading to a higher-than-expected taxpayer expenditure by $1.8 billion. An in-depth analysis by the Centre for Public Integrity, Australia’s leading anti-corruption think tank, discovered that approximately 19% of contracts awarded to these firms were later amended, with an average increase of 139%. The contract value during this period surged by 43%, amounting to a rise from the initial $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion. Geoffrey Watson, SC, from the think tank, suggested the possibility of these firms using underquoting tactics to gain valuable tenders. The greatest spike in contract value, over 5000%, was observed in an Australian Tax Office contract with EY. Concerns also arise due to the public’s inability to effectively scrutinize such large-scale contract alterations. Amidst allegations and government scrutiny, the Centre for Public Integrity advocates for limiting the use of consultants, enhancing reporting transparency, and reinstating the public service as the primary policy advisory to the government.

This is a summary of “Big four consulting firms accused of ‘lowball quoting’ to win government contracts” published in SMH on August 13, 2023, written by Angus Thompson. Read it in full here.