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Deloitte under the spotlight at consultancy inquiry

Deloitte executives are scheduled to face a Senate committee which is looking at problems with the federal government's use of consultants.

Consulting firm Deloitte will be asked to explain two conflicts of interest and a number of other claims when senior executives face a Senate inquiry.

Deloitte chief executive Adam Powick and chairman Tom Imbesi are scheduled to face the committee which is looking at problems with the federal government's use of consultants.

The firm said in a submission to the inquiry it was aware of two incidents of conflicts of interest.

In August 2022, it was identified Deloitte had breached its own independent and conflict management policy when it did not seek pre-approval from the auditor-general to audit an unnamed government entity, while it was also auditing other data held by the same entity.

The auditor-general later concluded it "did not represent an independence threat to the financial statements being audited".

The second incident involved a conflict of interest identified by the auditor-general in its report on a home affairs department procurement.

The firm also revealed in 2012/2022 there had been 78 "substantiated concerns" including 18 relating to "misuse of confidential or proprietary information", while there were 10 similar examples in 2022/2023.

"Deloitte takes its obligations around the use of confidential information seriously, whether that be in relation to confidential government information, government information or that of any client, employee or partner," the company said.

"Any matters in relation to the misuse of confidential government information would be investigated in line with our normal processes."

Those processes were overseen by the firm's ethics and conduct leader, or in matters relating to confidentiality led by the business security officer.

Consequences could include disciplinary actions.

Greens Senator Barbara Pocock, who has led the push for an inquiry into the nation's biggest consulting firms, was hoping for a "frank and open discussion" to help the committee uncover the extent of conflicts of interest.

"I hear from the Australian public on this issue every day," she said.

"People are concerned about value for money when they hear about a million-dollar contract resulting in an eight-page PowerPoint presentation.

"The lack of accountability is staggering."

Senator Pocock said the committee wanted to learn how to prevent the "inevitable integrity challenges that come with working both sides of the street and aggressive pursuit of profit".

In 2022/23 the company took disciplinary action in one case of misuse of government information and the previous year took similar steps in relation to one conflict of interest matter.


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