By Edmund Tadros and Markus Mannheim

The federal government has spent half a billion dollars a year on consultants since Labor won office 4½ years ago, an analysis of its contracts shows.

Yet while Finance Minister Penny Wong has warned agencies to slash this spending, few public servants believe it will happen.

The Canberra Times examined every consultancy deal published on the AusTender website in the four years since 2008 – 17,736 contracts worth $2,170,180,096.

Our investigation reveals for the first time which consultants won the most work and which government agencies spent the most. Read more about government spending on consultants at The Canberra Times.

You can find out more about how to interrogate the AusTender database at my site on data journalism, Dataliser.

The Big Spend (interactive charts and table)

The Big Spend - The Canberra Times
A Canberra Times investigation reveals for the first time which consultants won the most work and which government agencies spent the most.

More stories:

Bureaucracy can’t drop adviser
Opposition sees $50m in outsourcing slash

Download the data (CSV):
Top 100 consultancy contracts
Consultant spending by department
Top 20 consultant firms

Belinda Weaver of the University of Queensland blogged about the stories
Politician Malcolm Turnbull also made reference to the stories in a speech
The visualisation made it onto Tableau’s The Top 100 Vizzes of Q1 2012

By Bianca Hall and Edmund Tadros

Senior Defence brass opposed the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s bid to use the remote Scherger RAAF base as a detention centre, documents released under freedom of information show.

Defence refused to release more than half the pages in the heavily redacted package of documents.

But the documents it did release about the arrangements between it and the Immigration Department show preparations to convert the base into a detention centre were being made on an ad hoc basis.

Read more about how Defence resisted its base being used for immigration detention at The Canberra Times.

By Bianca Hall and Edmund Tadros

The Federal Government is improperly using the Defence Department to support its refugee policies, the Australian Defence Association says.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has entered into contracts worth at least $176million since 2010 – including $35million with Defence – to prepare and operate the Curtin and Scherger remote RAAF bases as detention centres.

Read more about the ADF’s refugee role at The Canberra Times.


By Edmund Tadros and Bianca Hall

Detention centre operators, an international training company, a NSW Government department and a multinational IT firm are the big winners from the Federal Government’s immigration policies.

An analysis of tender data by The Canberra Times has identified, for the first time, the companies that have won the most lucrative contracts from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship since 2008.

Combined with information from DIAC, a fuller picture has emerged of the true cost of the Federal Government’s asylum-seeker policy, with a refugee advocate saying the money could be better deployed in cheaper community-based alternatives.

Read more about the cost of Australia’s immigration policies at The Canberra Times.