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Procurement

ACIAR complies with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and the objectives of Commonwealth procurement. Value for money is applied as the core principle in the procurement process, consistent with Section 4 (4.4) of the rules.

The ACIAR Accountable Authority Instructions include details on delegations, the commitment of public moneys, management of risk and dealing with public property. These instructions have been developed in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

Purchasing

Purchasing activities are subject to the provisions of the Accountable Authority Instruction (AAI 3 Procurement Process) relating to procurement. In accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules that ACIAR publishes an Annual Procurement Plan on the AusTender website.

The majority of ACIAR procurement activity (by expenditure) is exempt from Division 2 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, predominantly exemption 6: procurement of research and development services, but not the procurement of inputs to research and development undertaken by the agency.

Agreements executed under exemption 6 include contracts for the conduct of research projects by Australian universities and research organisations with the collaboration of other governments and international agencies. In relation to research project activities, ACIAR:

  • publishes an Annual Operational Plan that includes areas of priority for research developed in consultation with partner countries
  • disseminates this to research providers, both within and outside Australia, inviting suitable experts to submit ideas and develop these in consultation with ACIAR Research Program Managers.

Reporting against the Senate Order of 20 June 2001 requiring departments and agencies to list contracts entered into with a value of more than $100,000, that were still to be concluded or had been concluded during the previous 12 months, is available on the ACIAR website and is reported separately in this section.

In addition to contracts in excess of $100,000 reported under the Senate Order referred to above, ACIAR entered into an additional 214 contracts, agreements and variations to acquire services mainly related to research program support and services. These contracts totalled in $6,867,030 in 2018–19. All contracts more than $10,000 are reported on the AusTender website.

No contracts were let in excess of $10,000 that were exempted from publication in AusTender due to freedom of information exemptions. All ACIAR contracts in excess of $100,000 contained clauses permitting the Auditor-General through the Australian National Audit Office access to Contractor premises.

Competitive tendering

ACIAR conducted four approaches to market for Requests for Tender (more than $80,000) during 2018–19.

Three responses were reported on AusTender where ACIAR had engaged whole of government arrangements for travel, IT services and other services.

Consultants and contracts

ACIAR engages consultants where 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; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in ACIAR decision-making.

Prior to engaging consultants, ACIAR 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 PGPA Act and related Rules including the CPRs and relevant internal policies.

During 2018–19 six new consultancy contracts were entered involving total actual expenditure of $140,154. In addition, no ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period.

Annual project reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.

Small business

ACIAR supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance website.

In supporting small and medium enterprises, ACIAR applies:

  • the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
  • Australian Industry Participation plans in whole-of-government procurement, where applicable
  • the Small Business Engagement Principles (outlined in the government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda), such as communicating in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format.

ACIAR 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 Treasury website.