The department conducts procurement activities in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs).
The Accountable Authority Instructions are reviewed periodically to ensure that procurement activities and related policy and procedural publications remain aligned with the CPRs and the Commonwealth Procurement Framework.
In 2017–18 the department continued to provide specialist procurement advice, training and assistance to staff undertaking procurements to ensure compliance with the CPRs—in particular, the need to deliver value for money. The department also refreshed and maintained the arrangements it administers that support sourcing of communications‑related services by 63 Australian Government agencies.
The department’s consultancy contracts are categorised in accordance with the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 for annual reports and the guidance from the Department of Finance on reporting consultancies. In addition to the requirements of the department’s procurement guidelines and policies, all proposals for consultancy services are compliance assessed by two procurement specialists before they go to the relevant delegate for approval.
The department engages consultants to provide specialist professional services, independent research or assessment, and necessary skills that are otherwise unavailable in the department.
The department is in the process of major transformational change in areas such as the welfare payment system. To secure the right skills and experience to support this changing environment, the department increased its use of consultancies in 2017–18.
During 2017–18, 29 new consultancy contracts were entered into, involving total actual expenditure of $8,069,858.59 (including GST). In addition, three active ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $1,133,991.93 (including GST).
Table 65 below shows total expenditure (including GST) on consultancy contracts for 2017–18 and the previous two financial years.
New consultancy services expenditure
Ongoing consultancy services expenditure
Total consultancy services expenditure
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.
For information on the department’s advertising and market research costs, see Appendix D.
ANAO access clause
All the department’s contract templates include a standard clause giving the Auditor‑General appropriate access to a contractor’s premises and records.
In 2017–18 the department had no contracts or standing offers that the Secretary had exempted from publication on AusTender.
Procurement initiatives to support small business
The department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.
The department recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are on the Treasury’s website.
In procurement activities, the department supports SMEs through a range of measures, including:
- using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low‑risk procurements valued under $1 million
- implementing the Supplier Diversity Strategy to increase the level of activity between the department and supplier groups such as Australian Disability Enterprises and Indigenous SMEs
- being a member of Supply Nation—a non‑profit organisation that supports growth in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector by promoting supplier diversity
- mandatory reporting against both the Australian Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy and the department’s RAP on the number of contracts, contract values and expenditure for all Indigenous SMEs. In 2017–18 the department spent $9.2 million (including GST) with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, exceeding the RAP target of $4.3 million
- using Australian Industry Participation Plans in whole‑of‑government procurement where applicable
- encouraging credit card use to expedite payments.