Professional services

Updated: 10 Nov 2020

Professional services definition

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.

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."

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 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, 363.66 KB 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

The standard commercial framework applies to engagement types 1 to 13 of the Performance and Management Services Scheme (PMS Scheme).

The framework ensures better commercial outcomes using:

  • engagement types
  • resource types
  • capped resource rates
  • discount structure
  • capped expenses
  • target resource mix.

Read the guidance for agencies on the standard commercial framework.

Experienced procurement professionals should buy professional services, where possible, from the Performance and Management Services (PMS) Scheme. The supplier list is available from the scheme user guide.

The arrangements for buying under the PMS Scheme are in:

View the guide for buying from the PMS Scheme and the Buying professional services sourcing process map.

Buyers are accountable for their procurement decisions and ensuring probity in their procurement activities. You must ensure the procurement process and your conduct are always fair, ethical, transparent and probity rich. This encourages suppliers to want to do business with government.

At times, an agency may need to engage an independent person to monitor or verify that their procurement processes are consistent with government regulations and probity principles.

Using external probity advisers and auditors should be the exception rather than the rule, as per the Procurement Policy Framework.

Engaging a probity adviser or auditor:

  • is not a way to outsource accountability – the agency is always accountable
  • is not a substitute for good management practices
  • does not guarantee there will be no probity or process breaches in the procurement process.

From 1 July 2020, only approved specified personnel of prequalified probity suppliers of the PMS scheme can provide probity services under the scheme. View the list of approved specified personnel .

Read more about engaging probity advisers and auditors.

Professional services are a type of external labour commonly used by government agencies for specialist advice and assistance.

The NSW Government is a major buyer of professional services, including consultancy, and supports the use of a diverse range of suppliers, including:

Supplying is easier via the PMS Scheme

The Performance and Management Services Prequalification Scheme (PMS Scheme) makes the buying process easier for both suppliers and buyers.

Suppliers can apply for prequalification to the PMS Scheme by submitting an online application, including referee reports. Suppliers’ capabilities are then assessed against the requirements of the PMS Scheme engagement types DOCX, 46.63 KB (DOCX, 28KB).

After assessment, prequalified suppliers are listed in the PMS Scheme supplier list XLSX, 2271.23 KB under the engagement types they are allowed to supply. The supplier is also listed in eTendering in Scheme Explorer.

A standard commercial framework covers engagement types 1 to 13 on the PMS Scheme, and buying from suppliers that have accepted the framework is easier for buyers.

Benefits for suppliers

  • easier to do business with government buyers
  • increased visibility to buyers
  • join the scheme at any time through a self-service, online application process
  • request prequalification for additional engagement types
  • base level prequalification – streamlined access for newly created businesses

Become a prequalified PMS Scheme supplier

Visit the PMS Scheme page and view ‘How to supply’ before applying for prequalification.


Please contact the NSW Procurement Service Centre on 1800 679 289 or