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Australia’s Labor Party Questions ‘Dodgy’ Research Funding

Labor has accused senior welfare department officials of outsourcing work they should have been doing themselves.

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s senior public servants have been accused of outsourcing decisions on welfare policy to a private company.

Labor Party latched onto an AU$1.76 million ($1.36 million) contract with Boston Consulting Group during a Senate estimates hearing on June 3.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was established in 1963. It is a global management consulting firm headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) helps enterprises and other organizations innovate and achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

The firm was hired to conduct research on Disability Employment Services (DES) and people with a partial capacity to work.

Disability Employment Services (DES) assist disabled individuals in finding and maintaining employment. Through Disability Employment Services (DES), people with disability, injury, or health condition may be able to receive assistance to prepare for, find, and keep a job.

The social services department asked them to investigate the impact of coronavirus on income support recipients. (Henry & Co./Unsplash)

The Disability Employment Services (DES) providers are a mixture of large, medium, and small, for-profits and not-for-profits who support people with disabilities in their job search and help employers to develop practices that support employees with disabilities.

The social services department asked them to investigate the impact of coronavirus on income support recipients.

Officials said that the additional AU$1.7 million ($1.36 million) was added to the Boston Consulting Group contract within procurement guidelines. The department had sought advice on the issue.

Labor senator Katy Gallagher said there was nothing to show for the research and accused the department of outsourcing work it should have been doing itself.

“It looks dodgy,” she told the officials.

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Social Services Catherine Rule speaks during Senate Estimates at Parliament House in Canberra, June 3, 2021. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image)

“It’s not chicken feed, it’s not the department’s money, it’s public money, and nobody seems to know what you got for it.

“It looks to me like you have gone out of your way to hide a contract around the broader issue of JobSeeker and income support recipients.”

Jobseeker payments (previously Newstart allowances) are the main income support payments for unemployed people aged 22 to the retirement age.

During the time of the pandemic, there was also considerable pressure on the department. More details about the research will be provided on notice by the department.

Department official Catherine Rule apologized for previously telling the committee the mid-term review had no recommendations when it actually contained more than 60.

“I did not intend to mislead the committee,” she said.

Rule said she was referring to recommendations to the minister in her earlier answer.

Rachel Siewert, the Greens Party senator, said that response was “too cute”.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Nikita Nikhil)