What are professional services?

Professional services are a type of external labour commonly used by agencies for specialist advice and assistance. They are provided by external service providers, including consultants.

Professional services don’t include recurring services delivered for more than a year, for example, repairs, maintenance and technical support services.

Why buy professional services?

Agencies typically engage professional services providers to:

  • provide strategic direction
  • independently review a proposed course of action
  • provide recommendations for organisational change
  • strengthen a team
  • implement a new system or process.

What is a consultant?

Consultants are a subset of professional services.

Procurement Board Direction (PBD) 2019-01-Engagement of professional service suppliers defines a consultant, to be used for compliance with the Annual Report Regulations, as follows:

"A consultant is defined as a person or organisation engaged under contract on a temporary basis to provide recommendations or professional advice to assist decision-making by management. Generally it is the advisory nature of the work that differentiates a consultant from other contractors.

Services provided under the NSW Government Legal Services Panel are excluded from the definition of a consultant for annual reporting purposes."

Please note: Suppliers may call themselves ‘consultants’, but unless they meet the above conditions, they may actually be defined as professional services or contingent labour for annual reporting purposes.

What is a consultancy?

A consultancy is a project performed by consultants. Agencies must report on consultancies as per the Annual Reports (Departments) Regulation 2015.

Consultancies provide agencies with recommendations or professional advice that often have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • is developed without direct supervision from the agency
  • represents an independent view
  • is the sole or majority element of the contract in terms of relative value or importance.

View the Definition of a consultant - guidance for buyers (PPTX, 363KB) for help in identifying consultancies for your agency.

Why consultant spend is highlighted in agency annual reports

Consultant spend in agency annual reports provides transparency on:

  • external advice sought for government initiatives to assist decision making
  • which consultants provided that advice
  • the cost of advice for each project and cumulatively for all projects
  • how often NSW Government seeks external advice.

Other types of external labour

Contingent labour (commonly referred to as contractors) refers to people employed by a contingent labour supplier and hired from that supplier by a NSW Government agency to provide labour or services. Contingent labour does not refer to consultants or companies engaged under a contract or statement of work to provide services directly to a client. (Source: Contingent workforce management guidelines - NSW Public Service Commission).

Recurring services are predefined in a contract and delivered on an ongoing basis for more than one year. Examples include repairs and maintenance, technical support, managed services and other outsourcing arrangements.

Statutory appointments are where an individual has been appointed to fulfil a role defined in legislation or other regulatory instruments. Examples include board members, tribunal members and Audit and Risk Committee members.

Volunteers are individuals that provide support to the community on a voluntary basis, for example volunteers of the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service.