CANBERRA, Australia - PricewaterhouseCoopers intends to change the way real estate is managed with a recently signed deal with Australia's federal government. The international consulting giant's real estate Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Group has agreed to provide global property management services to the Australian government's non-defense domestic and overseas properties, which include embassies, consulates and residences in 62 countries. The Australian real estate portfolio is valued at $1.4 billion (U.S. dollars).

For PricewaterhouseCoopers, the focus is on the process and not necessarily the deal, says Deborah Kops, global leader for the real estate BPO unit. Beyond real estate deal making, the company's grasp of the basics of any solid business - customer service, strategic vision, financial controls and performance management - helped seal the contract with the Australian government. PricewaterhouseCoopers also already managed the Australian government's non-defense, domestic properties.

"Number one, PricewaterhouseCoopers is not the leading light in commercial real estate, but we certainly understand how to make processes work and that's what this is about," says Kops. "We basically apply good business principals and processes knowing full well that this is real estate and we have the content to understand real estate. We believe we're changing the industry with this contract."

The primary objective of the agreement - which runs a minimum of five years - will be to focus on and improve the investment performance of the government's international portfolio of non-defense properties. Services to be provided include day-to-day property management, lease management and coordination of divestment of government properties. The agreement is expected to deliver savings of up to $50 million (U.S. dollars) to Australian taxpayers.

Kops acknowledges the challenges in managing a portfolio in 62 countries - from strategic planning to making sure the snow is shoveled to producing a satisfactory return on investment. First steps included formulating a mobilization plan, a publication several inches thick, as well as coordinating an Internet strategy for working with the Australian government portfolio.