Senior Data Consultant (1 year)

November 2019

Station: South African Revenue Service, Pretoria, South Africa

UNU-WIDER is looking for an outstanding individual with strong commitment and potential to contribute to the SA-TIED programme.

The Senior Data Consultant will be responsible for development of world-class, cutting-edge systems and processes for data management, including the merging of potential databases, that will facilitate high levels of data integrity, reliability in extractions, and taxpayer-based risk assessment and management at the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The position is under the Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) programme and is based at the premises of SARS in Pretoria, South Africa.

The Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) programme, implemented over the period 2017-2020, looks at ways to support policy-making for inclusive growth and economic transformation in the Southern Africa region, through original research conceived and produced in collaboration between United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), National Treasury, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and many other governmental and research organizations in South Africa and the sub-region. A key aspect of the programme is to encourage networking and discussion amongst people involved in policy processes across the participating organizations and civil society aiming to bridge the gap between research and policy-making.

Duties and responsibilities

Under the supervision of a UNU-WIDER Research Associate based in Pretoria, the Junior Data Consultant will perform the following duties:

  • Work with colleagues at SARS to design and introduce a world-class systems architecture that will be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the tax environment over the next 20 years.
  • Propose changes to the fields used in tax forms and how to optimise effort and accuracy in populating data.
  • Direct the work of a team of individuals, including a Junior Data Consultant, to achieve these outcomes.
  • Mentor and develop the two SARS employees designated to run the facility at the end of the project.
  • Seek, within SARS, answers to data anomalies raised by researchers.
  • Subject to the approval of SARS, actively explore new microdata sources of relevance to researchers in SA-TIED that can be matched with the existing firm and individual panel datasets (for example, a dataset of higher education results or wealth tax data).
  • Lead data projects that involve the comparison of data from tax records with data from other sources.
  • Work with the Junior Data Consultant to develop and implement the SARS secure research data centre.
  • Work to create metadata for researchers from multiple sources. 

Required qualifications and experience

  • Minimum of Master’s degree in economics, statistics, data science or equivalent, with at least three years of relevant experience in big data and systems management. PhD degree in the above fields would be an asset
  • Advanced knowledge of SQL, SAS, and Stata is required
  • Basic knowledge of R and other statistical software packages will be an asset
  • Strategic thinking and ability to anticipate future trends or needs
  • Experience in leading complex projects
  • Ability to work as a team member
  • Excellent analytical and drafting skills
  • Strong ability to establish priorities, multi-task and work within tight timelines
  • Ability to work under minimal supervision and with high level of resilience
  • Experience at a world-class revenue institute would be an advantage


The Senior Data Consultant will be issued a consultant contract with UNU-WIDER for full-time work (18 working days per month of 7.5 hours per day excluding lunch break) at SARS that follows the UNU Conditions of Service for Consultant Contracts.

Remuneration for the position will be commensurate with candidate’s level of education and experience.

No extra payments for housing or living expenses will be made. Programme-related travel costs will, however, be covered by SA-TIED.

Application procedure

Interested applicants should submit their applications online using this form by 17 December 2019 and must upload the following:

  • A cover letter setting out how the qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position (max. 1 page)
  • An up-to-date CV (max. 3 pages)
  • A copy of the highest educational degree obtained

Further competence test is possible for the shortlisted candidates.

Apply here 

Further questions should be addressed to