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External service providers

The department is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity. Our procurement policies and practices are consistent with:

  • relevant Commonwealth legislation
  • the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework, which includes the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
  • our Accountable Authority Instructions.

Our procurement practices reflect the Commonwealth’s procurement framework, with the focus on:

  • value for money
  • encouraging competition
  • efficient, effective, economical and ethical procurement
  • accountability and transparency.

We provide departmental guides, specialist advice and assistance to all our divisions to help ensure we meet our obligations.

Procurement initiatives to support small and medium enterprises

We support small business participation in the Commonwealth procurement market. Small and medium-sized enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance website.

We recognise the importance of ensuring small businesses are paid on time. The department’s payment practice complies with the Commonwealth’s Supplier Pay On-Time or Pay Interest policy. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury website.

Our procurement practices support small and medium enterprises by using:

  • the Commonwealth Contracting Suite (CCS) for low-risk procurements valued at under $1 million
  • small business engagement principles such as communicating in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format
  • credit cards where possible for purchases under $10,000.

Indigenous procurement

The government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy was launched on 1 July 2015 and aims to use the Commonwealth’s annual multi-billion dollar procurement spend to:

  • drive demand for Indigenous goods and services
  • stimulate Indigenous economic development
  • grow the Indigenous business sector.

We support and have implemented the government’s policy, which includes considering Indigenous suppliers for all remote contracts and all contracts valued between $80,000 and $200,000.

In 2018–19 the portfolio was set a target of 3%, or 37 contracts. We entered into more than 100 contracts, which also included multi-year contracts from previous years. Goods and services provided included Indigenous ranger services, building construction, maintenance and repair, and temporary personnel.

For more information see the Indigenous Procurement Policy overview on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.

Other contract information

During 2018–19 the secretary did not exempt any contracts or standing offers entered into by the department from being published on AusTender.

All contracts entered into by the department during 2018–19 valued at $100,000 or more (GST inclusive) included a clause providing for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises.

The annual report contains information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Further information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.


In 2018–19 we entered into 107 new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $7,787,944. In addition, 17 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $561,991.

Table 16 shows the number and total expenditure of new and ongoing consultancies in 2018–19.

Table 16 Number and expenditure on consultants current report period (2018–19)


No. of new contracts entered into during the period


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


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


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


We engage consultants when we require specialist expertise or independent assessment, research or review. Consultants are typically engaged to:

  • investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem
  • carry out defined reviews or evaluations
  • provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the department’s 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.

Consultants are sourced in line with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. The selection process may involve open tender, selective tender, direct sourcing or a panel consisting of recognised experts. We may choose a consultant who has the requisite skills if the value of the project does not justify the expense or delay associated with seeking tenders.

We also enter into purchaser–provider arrangements with a range of government, industry and private sector agencies for services to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries.

Advertising and market research

During 2018–19 the Department of Agriculture conducted the following advertising campaigns:

  • Rural Financial Counselling Service for Farm Safety Week
  • Biosecurity awareness for international students
  • Biosecurity awareness for incoming passengers
  • African swine fever.

Further information on those advertising campaigns is available in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance. Those reports are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

Payments to advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations are set out in Table 17.

Table 17 Advertising and market research for 2018–19




Advertising agencies



Market research organisations

The Social Research Centre

National survey of agricultural businesses about on-farm pest and weed management



Report on the future of the agriculture workforce


Global agriculture and food systems



Feasibility study of sensors for the detection of brown marmorated stink bug


Andrew Michael Hannon

Assessing automated options for phytosanitary assurance


University of Melbourne

Biosecurity Risk Insurance scoping study


Essence Communications

Exploratory research and strategic communication advice on water market literacy



Services to inform the Australian Government’s contributions to a jointly-funded project developing forest industry social licence and communications


Jones Lang LaSalle

Market research for Melbourne consolidation project


Polling organisations



Direct mail organisations



Media advertising organisations

Universal McCann







na Not applicable