Synergy has established a reputation of delivering strong results for our clients across federal government.
Business Consulting Services
Our highly experienced Business Consulting Services team offers federal government clients advice that has a track record of achieving results for your business and project needs.
Governance, Risk and Assurance Services
Synergy possesses a highly experienced and credentialed team of more than 20 consultants that operate within the Governance, Risk and Assurance Services team.
Department of Social Services
Internal Audit Services
Synergy is the primary provider of Internal Audit Services to the Department.
In Mid 2013 Synergy was appointed as the primary provider of Internal Audit Services to the then Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).
In late 2013 post the federal election the Department of Social Services (DSS) was created, with DSS retaining most of the existing core functions of FaHCSIA and gaining new functions transitioned to DSS under Machinery Of Government (MOG) changes.
Post the MOG, Synergy has continued to be the primary provider of DSS Internal Audit Services. During this period DSS has undergone considerable change and transition, including Child and Aged care services transferring into and subsequently out of DSS, resulting in considerable change to IT systems and infrastructure.
In this period the Internal Audit Program has applied particular focus to these changes and transitional arrangements due to the associated risks.
Our approach has been to work with DSS staff to assist in these times, providing value added advice helping in managing risks and providing objective assurance
Commonwealth Cultural Institutions
Internal Audit Services
Synergy is the sole provider of outsourced internal audit services to a range of national cultural institutions.
Synergy has been providing internal audit and risk management services to a number of the Commonwealth’s cultural institutions since 2011, including:
- National Museum of Australia;
- National Film and Sound Archive;
- National Library of Australia; and
- National Portrait Gallery of Australia.
Our experience with the cultural sector has provided us with an in-depth understanding of the challenges they face.
With the annual efficiency dividends tight in an already budget constrained industry, these institutions have had to be more creative and efficient to deliver its mandate with reduced resources. With increased creativity comes increased risk.
We have worked collaboratively with the institutions to identify improvement opportunities which enable them to do ‘more with less’. Our work has been instrumental in driving organisational changes and improved collaborations between various business units. This was underpinned by targeted internal audit programs that focus on the key risks of these institutions and not just generic risks found in most internal audit programs.
Our engagement with the various Audit Committees has been specifically referenced as a key point of difference from previous suppliers. Our Audit Committee reporting, which includes presenting emerging issues and risks relevant to the respective clients, has also been specifically referenced.
Synergy’s approach to building a team to deliver internal audit services centres on providing a dedicated senior resourced cultural sector team. To demonstrate our commitment to the delivery of high quality and value added services to the cultural sector, we created a cultural sector centre of excellence. As a result we have been able to build a body of knowledge which enables us to tailor our service delivery approach and develop targeted internal audit programs that are fit for purpose.
Indigenous Business Australia (IBA)
Financial Statement Audit
Synergy performed the financial statements audit of IBA on behalf of the Australian National Audit Office. In 2014-15, IBA managed assets exceeding $1.23 billion and had a turnover exceeding $190 million. The activities of IBA incorporate the provision of finance for home and business loans for indigenous investors as well as directly investing in commercial ventures jointly with indigenous investors. The audit of the consolidated financial statements of the IBA group involved the reporting of IBA’s interests in 60 controlled entities and 8 associated entities.
Synergy completed the audit of IBA consolidated financial statements which involved:
- audit of the home and business concessional loan portfolios with a fair value of $673 million;
- audit of the commercial property portfolio with a fair value of $133 million;
- audit of the various trading activities undertaken through direct investments in commercial ventures, including tourism operations (hotels, resorts and tour operators), supermarkets and the leasing of commercial property and equipment;
- liaison with a variety of third parties involved in the outsourcing of financial and operational management activities across the various IBA group entities;
- management of the group audit strategy which included coordination of audits across Australia undertaken by Synergy and other firms contracted by ANAO;
- managing the completion of key audit activities to ensure that the material audit clearance deadline of 15 August was achieved.
Synergy also performed the audit of the financial statements of 20 controlled entities of the IBA group. Controlled entities were in a variety of structures including unit trusts, partnerships and companies.
Financial Advisory Services
Synergy’s Financial Advisory Services team assists Government entities meet their obligations under the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
Finance Function Review and Implementation Plan (Program of Works)
Synergy was engaged by the ACCC to undertake a review of its finance function following a series of significant operating losses and cash funding issues spanning several years. The review’s focus was on assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the ACCC’s corporate functions, including the finance function within an environment that is under increasing political and financial scrutiny. Synergy consultants worked closely with the Chief Financial Officer and the ACCC Executive to review the finance function’s service delivery effectiveness and identify the value add business outcomes to business stakeholders.
Our review identified a service of transitional arrangements where there was a proposed change to existing Finance Branch functions or where the finance function could be improved.
This resulted in an endorsed executive program of work through the development of projects and implementation plans to support the recommended approach.
Synergy now has an ongoing role at the ACCC to implement the various project outcomes under the financial improvement program of works. These outcomes include:
- Strategic Financial Plan development, including:
- Review cost drivers for variable and fixed costs for the delivery of programs;
- Forecasting key Income Statement, Balance Sheet and FTE data items using Synergy’s Financial Forecast Model;
- Identify potential cost savings measures and prioritisation in the short, medium and longer term;
- Analysis of minimum cash levels to support the Commission;
- Linking existing strategic planning documents into the plan to determine the Commission’s future funding requirements.
- Preparation of a 5-year Cost Model, including:
- Out year projection of current revenue, expenditure, cash flows and equity;
- Projection of future average affordable FTEs, including salary increases, average severance expense and employee leave entitlements;
- Supplier scenario analysis, including differentiations between fixed and variable costs;
- Model changes required to reach a break-even level of expenditure.
- Revise and update monthly financial reports.
- TechnologyOne Budget Module enhancements.
- Development of a formal Budget Business Rules document that supports the ACCC budget framework and identifies the roles, responsibilities, expectations and accountabilities with budget information.
- Review and update of existing process maps and financial procedures.
- Benchmark ACCC Finance staff as a portion of total agency staff against best practice.
- Provide targeted financial management training across the ACCC.
- Develop a formal Capital Management Plan to highlight capital expenditure pressures and to assist the Executive to make strategic decisions about capital expenditure.
The overall outcome of these projects will be to position the ACCC to continue operating as a financially sustainable agency in a pressured environment with increasing efficiency dividends and a greater expectation to do more with less by internal and external stakeholders.
Department of Finance
Project Tetris – Strategic Leasing Review
Having consolidated Commonwealth-wide leasing data from a number of sources, the Department of Finance was seeking ways to leverage the data. Synergy was engaged to analyse the data and identify opportunities for efficiencies and savings. One of the project’s outcomes was an identified published savings in the forward estimates.
Using specialised data analysis tools, Synergy developed some interactive visualisations that allowed the Department to quickly and easily:
- Identify ‘clusters’ of similar leases expiring in a similar timeframe in the same location (that could represent opportunities for leasing shared accommodation);
- Match small expiring leases to large ongoing leases in the same location, to explore opportunities for consolidation;
- Identify opportunities for co-ordinated procurement of property services (e.g. cleaning or security) across agencies;
- Map the locations of existing leases;
- Identify leases that were unusually expensive, compared to similar leases in the same location;
- Identify properties with high vacancy rates;
- Analyse properties and leases that were outside the scope of the current property reporting and lease approval frameworks; and
- Perform scenario analysis on the impacts of changing lease approval thresholds.
Throughout the review, Synergy applied its extensive experience in agency property procurements to advise the Department on possible Commonwealth-wide efficiencies. Using this analysis, the Department is now proactively planning a number of cross-agency co-ordinated property procurement exercises.
Business, Finance and Corporate Systems
Our highly experienced team of consultants in the Business, Finance and Corporate Systems service line have a proven track record in delivering strong business transformation results off the back of systems enhancement.