NBN Co brings in KPMG to audit subcontractor pay

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NBN Co brings in KPMG to audit subcontractor pay

Ignores question about whether the review will be made public.

NBN Co has commissioned KPMG to conduct a promised audit of pay received by field services subcontractors and technicians following protests earlier this year.

The company said in late May that it had called in an “independent auditor” to assess claims made by subcontractors that their pay had been cut after NBN Co changed the way it outsourced field services to its major delivery partners.

NBN Co said at the time that it could not confirm the quantum of cuts being seen by its extended field workforce, but promised a review as well as “interim” payments to technicians while that review process was underway.

Chief operating officer Kathrine Dyer said at the time the review would take “a number of weeks” to complete.

The company has now confirmed further details of the process.

“The review will be conducted by KPMG,” the company said in responses to parliament published late last week.

“The review is currently underway and NBN Co’s present expectation is that it will be completed in Q1 FY22.”

The first quarter of FY22 runs from July through September of this year. 

NBN Co declined to respond to specific questions about the review, such as whether the results would be shared with the senate or publicly, the extent to which technicians and subcontractors would be “directly consulted”, and “whether the review will confirm what proportion of fees paid by NBN Co for service delivery actually flow through to the technician/subcontractor performing the service.”

Instead, the company largely repeated what was already known about the review’s scope. That is, it will look at the before-and-after of the company’s ‘Unify’ program.

“This comprehensive external review will include close consultation with key stakeholders,” it said. 

“The purpose of this review is to examine the end-to-end process in detail, including an assessment of the transition between the two ticket-of-work contracts and systems, assessing commercials, artefacts requested and time in motion studies of the systems and differences in processes between the two contracts.”

Unify’s problems have also extended to new systems put in place to assign installation work to its contract workforce.

Protests earlier this year were over pay rates as well as system issues, which NBN Co eventually acknowledged occurred after the new scheduling system became overloaded.

The scheduling system comprises three software packages: ServiceNow, Salesforce and ServiceMax or SMAX, which is the front-facing part and therefore copped most criticism from workers.

NBN Co said last week that the cost to develop the ServiceMax component of the system architecture “to support the new field contracts under Unify was $13.3m total, over FY19, FY20 and FY21.”

It said that the system is still “yet to go live in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.”

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