IMC’s Statement to the Senate Inquiry into management and assurance of integrity by Consulting Services.

by Peter Westlund, IMC National President and Board Chair. 7th June 2023


The Senate Committee Inquiry.

The Senate Committee Inquiry into the integrity of consulting services has the potential for the Institute of Management Consultants to play a key role in enhancing the professionalism and ethics of management consulting services delivered to all levels of government.


IMC’s Statement by Peter Westlund CMC – IMC Australia National President and Board Chair.

Today, Jenifer Frederick CMC, Michael McLean CMC and I attended Parliament House and presented to the Senate Committee of Inquiry into management and assurance of integrity of Consulting Services.

Here are some of the key points we emphasised:

  • “Professional Management Consultants” ought to be disciplined individuals who adhere to ethical standards in the design and delivery of their services.  We see that Professional Management Consultants should be accepted by society as possessing special knowledge and skills derived from research, education and relevant experience.
  • Where legislation does not require a licence to practise and there is no regulator, professional organisations such as the IMC, are crucial in maintaining professional standards, especially the competency and ethics in the practice and profession of management consulting.
  • Management consultants who are members of the IMC can legitimately and steadfastly claim to be professionals, especially practising Certified Management Consultants.  Certified Management Consultants are required through a three-stage verification and validation process to be degree qualified, demonstrate relevant disciplines and business insight and aptitude, maintain their practice capabilities and competencies, exhibit consultative behaviours, ensure ethical and professional conduct and be in full-time practice.  
  • The IMC promotes and trains management consultants in the International Standard and Guidelines for the effective delivery of management consulting services, ISO 20700:2017.  Self-declaration checklists facilitate the practical implementation of ISO 20700 through agreed project scopes and deliverables.
  • Not all so-called “consulting services” are considered to be professional “management consulting services”.   A Professional Management Consultant is usually engaged to help organisations solve complex organisational problems, create organisation value, maximise growth and improve performance.  Through the application of their knowledge and techniques, management consultants provide objective independent advice, expertise and specialist skills. 
  • Other assignments are often included in discussions of “management consultants” but are not recognised as professional “management consulting” services.  These include expert contractors for a project where a department or agency does not have the requisite expertise and needs to complete a specific task on time.
  • Contract labour is also often engaged to perform specific job roles, functions and deliverables where the agency does not have the requisite skills in-house.  Whilst not considered to form part of “management consulting services”, these personnel should nevertheless be suitably qualified and have recent relevant experience, to perform in those roles.  
  • It has been proposed that the Australian Government develop an in-house consulting model to reduce reliance on consultants, including management consulting services.  It is important to recognise that independent professional management consultants bring a breadth and depth of experience and skills from working with multiple clients across different sectors of industry and government, nationally and internationally.
  • The IMC through its Certified Management Consultants and ISO 20700 Accredited Trainers could provide the professional development, mentoring and training necessary to develop internal consultants for government departments and agencies to the standards and ethical principles expected by the Australian and other Governments and consistent with the ISO 20700 guidelines and the IMC Code of Ethics.

Suggested Actions

Suggested courses of action for the Inquiry to consider that could reduce the risks and improve the integrity, transparency, accountability and effectiveness of consulting services provided to the Australian Government.

A. Management consultants providing management consulting services to the Australian Government adopt ISO 20700:2017 Guidelines together with Self-Declaration Checklists to ensure a standard of compliance with contemporary benchmark practice.

B. The Institute of Management Consultants is recognised as the professional organisation for management consultants in Australia and the Australian Government gives considerable weight to members of the IMC who commit to the IMC Code of Ethics.

C. Certified Management Consultants are recognised as being the most trusted and expert advisors and consultants and are ascribed the highest weighting when calling for and considering tenders to supply management consulting services to the Australian Government.

D. IMC can liaise with the Australian Government in designing an internal consulting skills development and mentoring program that embeds ISO 20700:2017 Guidelines.

Next Steps

The Senate Committee requested that we provide some further information to the Inquiry which we will do in the coming days. 

Our Submission and attendance at the public hearing are important first steps in raising the profile and recognition of professional management consulting with government, industry, and the public and we trust in the profession of management consulting.

We look forward to the opportunities for our profession that may arise from our participation in this Senate Inquiry and outcomes.

You can download a copy of IMC’s statement here. (.pdf)