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Home Affairs: ICT contractors earning more than managers

by Cameron Sinclair •
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There are almost twice as many highly paid contractors as there are SES in the Department of Home Affairs, according to Intermedium analysis.  

ICT contractors are earning more than their managers, and significantly more than they would in permanent APS roles, according to AusTender contract data published during the first full week of the new financial year. 

In that week, Home Affairs published 97 contracts for ‘ICT contractor services’. Almost all are for the full term of the 2022-23 financial year and their average value is $360,515.  

Some of the larger contract values exceed the base remuneration of departmental Deputy Secretaries. 

From the 3rd to the 9th of July, hundreds of labour hire contracts were published on AusTender for the new financial year among a total of almost 1,750 Federal contract notices. 

The contracts provide a remarkable insight into ICT contractor activity at Home Affairs. Due to the high volume of contracts and their similar dollar values, they are almost certainly each for single individuals.  

Similar conclusions about the volume and value of individual ICT contracts - albeit with a lower level of confidence - can be drawn for Services Australia, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Electoral Commission, and the Department of Health and Aged Care. 

Of the 97 Home Affairs “ICT Contractor Services” contracts, 91 are for the period 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023. Well over half are between $300,000 and $400,000: 

  • 15 between $272,800 and $316,800 
  • 38 between $316,800 and $360,800 
  • 24 between $360,800 and $404,800 
  • 13 between $404,800 and $448,800 

Home Affairs’ 2020-21 annual report provides detailed information on the remuneration of its senior APS leadership, and on remuneration across the organisation more generally.  The ICT contractors on the highest value contracts are receiving almost as much as the department’s Deputy Secretaries are receiving as base earnings (ie without superannuation or long service leave). 

The annual report indicates that the department has approximately 50 Senior Executive Service Band 1 and higher staff who are on remuneration comparable to these 97 ICT contractors. 

This ratio may worsen yet if more Home Affairs’ ‘ICT contractor services’ notices are posted onto AusTender during this year’s ICT contractor ‘posting season’.  

The season does not traditionally taper off until mid-August.   

The run on contracting occurs at the beginning of each financial year because agencies (and not just Home Affairs) are desperate to lock in contractor talent to assure delivery of both business-as-usual and ‘new policy proposal’ (NPP) funded ICT projects.  

The severe shortage of ICT labour hire resources across Australia together with an unprecedented level of NPP ICT funding in the last four Federal budgets has made the Canberra ICT labour hire hotter than it has ever been, with contractors demanding, and in many cases getting, extremely high paying contracts.    

The new Labor government has pledged to convert contractor roles into permanent APS positions, characterising “the excessive reliance” on contractors, consultants and labour hire companies as a “waste of public funds” for work that can be done “more effectively by public servants.” 

While it is certainly in the interests of people working at entry to mid-level APS classifications to be in permanent roles, this data suggests that those with ICT skills may require some convincing to seek permanent APS jobs. 

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