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Purchasing and consultancies

Purchasing

The department’s procurement policies and practices are consistent with all relevant Commonwealth laws, the Commonwealth financial framework (including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules) and other relevant policies.

The department publishes its procurement activities over $10,000 (GST inclusive) and business opportunities of $80,000 and above (GST inclusive) on the AusTender website. The department’s procurement activities are therefore readily communicated and accessible to all business enterprises. There were no contracts exempt from reporting on AusTender in 2018–19.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

The department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth procurement market. Small and medium enterprise (SME) and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website at finance.gov.au.

Consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the department’s procurement practices provide appropriate opportunities for SMEs to compete and ensure they are not unfairly discriminated against. For example, the department uses the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000. Many small businesses do not have sufficient scale, skills or resources to prepare complex tender documents. Using this suite, which has simple and consistent contract terms and insurance requirements, simplifies the process and makes it easier for SMEs to bid for business opportunities with the department.

The department also recognises the importance of ensuring small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Government Pay On-Time Survey are available on the Treasury’s website at treasury.gov.au.

Indigenous Procurement Policy

The department, through the Indigenous Procurement Policy, is committed to growing its engagement with Indigenous business. The department, under its Reconciliation Action Plan, sets itself an annual target to award $3.5 million in new contracts each year to majority-Indigenous-owned business.

For 2018–19, the department had 106 contracts in place with majority-Indigenous-owned businesses valued at $7,120,000. This was well above the department’s annual target of $3.5 million.

Consultancies

The department engages consultants to provide independent and expert advice or services, taking into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of those options.

The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related regulations. The methods of selection used for consultancies are open tender, limited tender and panel arrangements (initially selected through either an open tender or prequalified tender process). Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined research, reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist the department in decision-making.

During 2018–19, 71 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $8,867,187. In addition, 46 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $23,541,413.

This annual report contains 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.

Grant programs

Information on grants awarded by the department during 2018–19 is available at education.gov.au and grants.gov.au.

Advertising and marketing

During 2018–19, the department conducted Phase Three of the Quality Schools campaign. Further information on the Quality Schools campaign is available at education.gov.au and in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance. Those reports are available on the Department of Finance’s website at finance.gov.au.

Details of payments made by the department in 2018–19 to advertising, market research and media advertising organisations are provided in tables 3.3 to 3.5. Where the total paid is less than $13,800 (GST inclusive), details have not been included. This is consistent with section 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

Table 3.3: Payments to advertising agencies, 2018–19

Organisation

Service provided

Total paid in 2018–19 ($)

(GST inclusive)

BMF Advertising

Creative development for Phase Three of the Quality Schools campaign

1,416,360

Table 3.4: Payments to market research organisations, 2018–19

Organisation

Service provided

Total paid in 2018–19 ($)

(GST inclusive)

Hall and Partners

Development research, concept testing and

refinement testing for Phase Three of the Quality Schools campaign

163,799

JWS Research Pty Ltd

Benchmark, tracking and evaluation services for Phase Three of the Quality Schools campaign

571,120

Orima Research Pty Ltd

Market research name testing for the Course Seeker website

48,785

TNS Australia Pty Ltd

Benchmark, tracking and evaluation services for the New Child Care Package campaign

95,700

Table 3.5: Payments to media advertising organisations, 2018–19

Organisation

Service provided

Total paid in 2018–19 ($)

(GST inclusive)

Universal McCann

Advertising for Phase Three of the Quality Schools campaign

6,133,694

Universal McCann

Advertising for the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) portal

47,748

Universal McCann

Advertising for Study Assist

17,749

Universal McCann

Advertising for Course Seeker— end of 2018 calendar year

164,833

Universal McCann

Advertising for Course Seeker— mid-2019 calendar year

9,005

Universal McCann

Advertising for the Child Care Finder website

29,150