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ABS procurement and contracting activities are undertaken in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. These rules are applied consistently to procurement activities through the Accountable Authority Instructions, supporting operational guidelines and procurement framework.

Information on procurements expected to be undertaken are advertised in an annual procurement plan, available from the AusTender website. This plan is reviewed and updated throughout the year.

No contracts with the value of $100,000 or greater (inclusive of GST) were let during 2018–19 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises.

Initiatives to support small business

The ABS 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 website.

ABS procurement practices support SMEs by adopting whole-of-government solutions to simplify interactions. This includes using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000.

The ABS 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 available on the Department of the Treasury website.


The ABS engages consultants when it requires specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Decisions to engage consultants during 2018–19 were made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related regulations, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and relevant internal policy.

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.

During 2018–19, 38 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $3.5 million. In addition, 29 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $4.2 million (Table 6.3).

There were two major drivers of the ABS’ continued use of consultancy services in 2018–19:

  • The ABS’ Statistical Business Transformation Program (SBTP) – the nature and stage of this project have necessitated that the ABS work closely with the ICT industry and other stakeholders, utilising both consultants and contractors, to deliver the transformation program and provide independent assurance services to the program.
  • The establishment of the 2021 Census Work Program and related consultancy services such as independent assurance and continued assistance with the Program Management Office.

Table 6.3: Number and expenditure on consultants, 2018–19

No. of new contracts entered into during the period


Total actual expenditure during the period on new contracts (incl. GST)


No. of ongoing contracts engaging consultants that were entered into during a previous period


Total actual expenditure during the period on ongoing contracts (incl. GST)


Exempt contracts

During the 2018–19 financial year the ABS did not exempt any contracts or standing offers from publication on AusTender on the basis that they would disclose exempt information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.