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Managing our assets and purchasing

We continued to manage our assets and procure goods and services in an efficient, effective, economical and ethical manner that delivers value for money.

Assets

Our fixed asset base covers a wide range of asset types, including leasehold improvements, purchased and internally developed software, and plant and equipment. We actively manage and monitor our assets through asset registers, and conduct an annual stocktake of assets to maintain the accuracy of our records. Valuations are also undertaken on a regular basis to ensure that asset values are fairly represented in the annual financial statements.

Our assets team provides operational guidance to staff and maintains a comprehensive set of asset management policies and procedures that are available to all staff on our intranet.

Purchasing

During 2019–20, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules formed the basis for our procurement practices and procedures. The principles in the rules are reflected in our accountable authority instructions and operational guidance, which are available to all employees on our intranet. We review our accountable authority instructions and operational guidance materials on a regular basis to ensure consistency with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and broad procurement-related policies.

We have a centralised procurement team that coordinates procurement activities and liaises with business areas and financial delegates. The team provides guidance on, and ensures consistency and compliance with, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and other policies. The team also supports other business areas on matters of risk management, probity, specification development and contract management.

The Commonwealth Procurement Rules require entities to report contracts and amendments on AusTender within 42 days of entering into (or amending) a contract. During 2019–20, 13 contracts were reported outside of this period. Training is provided to staff where oversights occur to ensure we continually improve our practice.

Australian National Audit Office access clauses

Our standard contract templates include provisions allowing the Auditor-General to access a contractor’s premises. We did not have any contracts that excluded this access provision in 2019–20.

Exempt contracts

In 2019–20, we did not have any contracts or any standing offers with a value of more than $10,000 (inclusive of GST) that were exempted by the Chief Executive from being published on AusTender on the basis that they would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Details of all contracts that we entered into in 2019–20, with a value of $10,000 or more, were published on AusTender in accordance with the reporting requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

Support for small business

We support small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Participation statistics for small and medium-sized enterprises (fewer than 200 employees) and small enterprises (fewer than 20 employees) are available on the Department of Finance’s website at finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts.

Our procurement-related initiatives that support small business include:

  • using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
  • using credit cards for low-risk procurements valued under $10,000
  • participating in whole-of-government arrangements where applicable
  • adhering to 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
  • using financial management information systems to facilitate on-time payment
  • ensuring invoices are processed as soon as applicable after receipt
  • encouraging market approaches to a variety of businesses.

In addition, we are committed to meeting our annual Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) targets with the aim of driving demand for goods and services provided by Indigenous suppliers, stimulating Indigenous economic development and growing the Indigenous business sector.

A key target in the IPP is for 3 per cent of new domestic Commonwealth contracts to be awarded to Indigenous suppliers by 2020. During 2019–20, we awarded 3.26 per cent of our domestic contracts to Indigenous suppliers.

Consultants

We engage consultants when we require specialist expertise that is not available in house, 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 our decision-making.

Before engaging consultants, we take 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 and related instruments, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and our accountable authority instructions.

During 2019–20, we entered into 34 new consultancy contracts involving $2,113,248 total actual expenditure. In addition, 25 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving $5,412,743 total actual expenditure (Appendix E: Consultants).

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 at tenders.gov.au.

Advertising and market research

Under section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, we are required to disclose payments of $14,000 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.

We conducted no advertising campaigns and made no payments to polling or market research organisations during 2019–20.

Information on payments made to advertising agencies, media advertising organisations and direct mail organisations in 2019–20 is available at Appendix F: Advertising and market research.