Boston blocks Oz FoI: 'the price of our dodgy reports is a secret'

Sudden outbreak of modesty in the gun-for-hire business

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Boston Consulting doesn't want the people of New South Wales to know why it thinks a private college under police investigation is doing a better job than publicly-funded TAFEs.

Its report, compiled last year for an unknown price, was trumpeted as a win for vocational training privatisation advocates. It found that the privately-run Australian Careers Network was more efficient than TAFE.

The problem for Boston: the report was released shortly after the company collapsed in a heap of recrimination and police investigation.

The risible report reckoned TAFE was uncompetitive, since it needed nearly $4 billion worth of buildings to deliver courses generating $2 billion of annual revenue. The now-collapsed Australian Careers Network, by comparison, ran a revenue-to-property ratio of 10:1 ($41 million in revenue, $4 million in property) because, as it since emerged, it wasn't actually delivering the courses it was charging the government for.

Since Boston Consulting has long been a favourite brain-in-a-jar for governments with a privatisation agenda, NSW Greens' David Shoebridge asked the government under FOI what the company was paid for the report, and what the government's terms of references were.

The Sydney Morning Herald now reports the government has declined to release the information.

Its reason? – Boston Consulting has objected to the release.

The same company has also dipped into the government's ongoing computing bungles for sustenance, picking up $850,000 earlier this year to tell the government how to avoid disasters like its Department of Education Learning Management and Business Reform black hole.

There's no word yet from the NSW state government on when that report will be delivered. ®


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