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What is Public Sector Consulting?

Alyssa Greenfield

Consulting generally refers to the practice of helping companies increase their efficiency and profits. Consultants do this by identifying and addressing major operational or strategic challenges those companies are facing. Public sector consulting specifically refers to achieving these goals for government agencies at the local, state, or federal level and other non-profit entities.

What jobs are available in public sector consulting?
There are a wide range of opportunities available within public sector consulting, depending on your background and interests. You’ll find that many of these job titles are similar to those at a private-sector consulting firm (with a few big differences, which we’ll get to in a bit).

For example, you may work as an Intelligence Analyst, researching and designing plans for implementing new business processes and technology requirements for clients. Or, you could work as a Financial Management Analyst, forecasting revenue and helping manage contracts to ensure the needs of your clients and your company’s finance team are both met. You might also work as a Security Analyst, using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and predictive analytics to stop potential cyber attacks before they happen.

How is public sector consulting different from private sector consulting?
While there are certainly similarities, public sector consulting work isn’t just about doing private sector work for government entities. One of the most rewarding aspects of a public sector consulting job is the wide-reaching impact your work will have. Public sector consulting work helps keep citizens safe and ensures they have access to the government services they need. Your work could impact organizations ranging from defense to intelligence to civilian and military health.

The other major difference between the work of a private sector and public sector consultant is the scale of your work. For example, in the public sector, you might be consulting for the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which reaches far more people than a single healthcare provider. Imagine working with the VA to improve their IT system. That’s an enormous (and enormously impactful) undertaking that has the potential to improve medical services for American citizens around the world.

What are some projects I might work on as a public sector consultant?
You’re likely already familiar with many of the clients that public sector consulting firms work with. For example, Accenture Federal Services worked with the National Park Foundation to develop immersive digital tools aimed at attracting younger visitors to the parks. They’re also working with the US Department of Education to improve the experience of taking out and paying back student loans. Public sector consultants might also work to improve daily life in cities across the country, or even work with the United States Department of Defense or Transportation Safety Administration.

Public sector consulting—and consulting as a whole—is a field that will keep you challenged and present endless opportunities to learn and grow. If you have a passion for technology, business, and contributing to society, odds are there’s a way to channel it into a career in public sector consulting.