Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand today (28 July) appeared at the NSW Public Accountability and Works Committee’s inquiry into the NSW Government’s use and management of consulting services. Our CEO Ainslie van Onselen has written to all Australian members outlining what was discussed and our submission. A copy of the email is below.
Email to all Australian Members re: CA ANZ appearance at NSW Parliamentary Inquiry
28 July, 2023
This afternoon, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) Group Executive for Corporate Assurance, Vanessa Chapman, and CA ANZ General Manager for Professional Standards, Kristen Wydell FCA appeared at the NSW Public Accountability and Works Committee’s inquiry into the NSW Government’s use and management of consulting services.
CA ANZ made a prior submission to the inquiry, which is investigating whether the use of consulting services is delivering good outcomes for the people of NSW, in terms of ethical, effective and efficient policy making and service delivery. The submission can be found here, at number 13 on the table.
We have used the inquiry to outline how our independent disciplinary bodies work and how our recent Professional Conduct Framework Review aims to enhance these processes to address firm events when put to a membership vote later this year.
We explained the make-up of our membership. Individual members comprise sole practitioners, individuals who work in small, medium-sized or large firms, employees in government, in businesses in finance, strategy or other roles, individuals who operate as independent contractors, and academics across the education sector. And that a member’s place of employment has no bearing on how disciplinary investigations are conducted.
Around 10 per cent of our individual members work at large multi-disciplinary firms. All partners of those large firms – the big 4 – are our members, many being consultants providing services to government. They are required to complete mandatory ethics training and are subject to our complaints process.
We also took the opportunity to highlight our commitment to improvement and that we welcome scrutiny of our processes and frameworks. There is no doubt that oversight of consulting is fragmented. Consultants to government who are not members of any professional association may have internal policies and codes of conduct but not be subject to any independent oversight or enforcement. We made the following suggestions that:
- We support the NSW government initiatives to implement the recommendations made by the NSW Auditor General, including those relating to enhanced practice procurement and project management practices;
- Agencies should consider selection criteria for material engagements and consider whether membership of a professional association is a minimum requirement;
- Consideration should be given to implementing contractual mechanisms – such as requiring firms to notify the agency if they or key personnel are subject of a professional disciplinary investigation, which could trigger review rights under the contract; and
- Include referral to professional associations as a potential outcome of a code breach under the NSW Suppliers Code of Conduct.
CA ANZ welcomes the opportunity to work with governments, our profession and other stakeholders to develop solutions.
We also took the opportunity to share our statement provided yesterday on the EY Oceania independent Review into its workplace culture. You can read our statement here.
We will continue to communicate with you on these important matters.
Ainslie van Onselen
CEO, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand