Management of the department’s assets is governed by the Secretary’s Instructions on asset management and aligns with government best practice. The department maintains an asset register, asset management policies and a capital management plan. A rolling annual stocktake is carried out to maintain the accuracy of the information in the asset register. The department’s fixed assets include office fit outs, purchased and internally developed software, computer equipment, infrastructure and centrally held library materials.
Our procurement policies and practices reflect the principles in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. We focus on:
- obtaining value for money
- encouraging competition
- efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of government resources
- accountability and transparency in all of our business transactions
- compliance with other Australian Government policies.
A central procurement team within the department provides advice to staff undertaking procurement and contract-management activities. The procurement team undertakes quality assurance testing of procurement activities and periodically reviews procurement-related documentation and training material to ensure consistency with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and other policies. The department uses a procurement module within its financial management information system to enhance administrative workflows and procurement compliance.
We support small business participation in the Australian Government procurement market. Small and medium enterprises and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance website.
We recognise the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website.
The department supports the goals of the government's Indigenous Procurement Policy. This is reflected in the Indigenous Procurement Policy procurement statistics, which show that the department consistently exceeds its Indigenous Procurement Policy target. Further details are available on the National Indigenous Australians Agency website.
Our 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.
The department engages consultants when it lacks specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem, carry out defined reviews or evaluations, provide independent advice and information and develop solutions to assist in the department’s decision-making. Prior to engaging consultants, the department takes into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost effectiveness of engaging external expertise. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) and related regulations including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and relevant internal policies.
During 2019–20, the department entered into 95 new consultancy contracts, involving total actual payments of $1.493 million (inclusive of GST). In addition, nine ongoing consultancy contracts were active, involving total actual payments of $898,000 (inclusive of GST).
New or ongoing consultancy contracts for 2019–20
Number of new contracts entered into
Total actual expenditure on new contract (incl. GST)
Number of ongoing contracts engaging consultants entered into
Total actual expenditure on ongoing contracts (incl. GST)
No contracts of $100,000 or more (inclusive of GST) were entered into during 2019–20 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises where appropriate.
During 2019–20, the department had 50 contracts in excess of $10,000 to a total value of $13.023 million that were exempt from being reported on AusTender on the basis that they would disclose matters exempt under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
Advertising and market research
Under section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, we are required to disclose payments of $13,800 or more (inclusive of GST) to specific types of organisations. These organisations are advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, media advertising organisations and direct mail organisations.
During 2019–20, we finalised one advertising campaign; the Rights of Older Australians Campaign (1800 ElderHelp redirect service). This campaign commenced during 2018–19 and expenditure incurred in 2019–20 was below the reporting threshold.
Further information on advertising campaigns is available at the department’s website and in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance. Those reports are available on the Department of Finance website.
There were no payments to market research organisations, polling organisations or direct mail organisations.
Payments to advertising, market research and other designated organisations
Elder abuse cross-jurisdictional collaboration framework: market research
The department manages its grants programs in accordance with the Australian Government’s legislative framework, the Commonwealth Grant Rules and Guidelines and the department’s grant management procedures. Information on grants awarded by the department for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 is available on the Australian Government GrantConnect website.
During 2019–20, we published information for 14 grants programs, being:
- Community Legal Services Program
- Expensive Commonwealth Criminal Cases Fund
- Family Relationships Services Program
- Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses
- Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses – expenses for witnesses appearing before the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
- Financial assistance towards legal costs and related expenses – expenses for witnesses to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
- Grants to Australian Organisations
- Human Rights Unit
- Indigenous Legal Assistance Program
- Legally assisted financial dispute resolution pilots – small property claims
- Native Title Respondents Scheme
- Native Title System
- Payments for the provision of community legal services – legal advice service supporting the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
- Support for Specialist Family Violence Legal Services.
Ecologically sustainable development
In 2019–20, we continued to mitigate the effects of our impact on the environment through:
- electronic document management systems and web-based information-sharing tools that reduce or eliminate the need to print and retain paper copies of documents
- videoconferencing to reduce the need for local, interstate and international travel
- identifying and implementing ways to improve the energy efficiency of our facilities
- ensuring that new leases entered into comply with the Australian Government’s energy policy
- procuring energy-efficient equipment and lighting solutions, including a smart lighting system that activates only when work areas are occupied
- recycling facilities in all work areas.
The integration of energy-efficiency practices into our organisation and planning processes allows us to reduce our energy costs and decrease the consumption of resources.