The department’s asset management strategy focuses on efficient asset utilisation and allows the department to identify underperforming assets. The department operates within a controlled environment at Parliament House and the risk of loss for the majority of assets is minimal.
A stocktake of furniture and portable and attractive assets was completed during 2017–18. During the stocktake process a visual assessment for impairment was undertaken by Finance Office staff. The verification of impairment testing was undertaken in conjunction with asset counting.
During the year the department transferred assets to DPS as part of the consolidation of ICT services across the parliamentary departments. The assets were transferred to DPS for no consideration and had a carrying value at the date of transfer of $1.165 million.
The furniture replacement project continued during 2017–18. This project consists of replacing the office furniture located in the staff area of members’ offices. As at 30 June 2018, installation of all suites except one had been completed. The project is due for completion in July 2018. A combination of cash reserves and departmental capital budget funding has been used to replace these furniture items.
The department also replaced its print room equipment to ensure it continues to operate an efficient and cost-effective print service. The value of equipment and associated software was $0.326 million.
Other minor asset purchases included replacement of TVs, fridges and audio visual equipment. The department adopts a ‘break–fix’ replacement policy for these items.
A review of the intangible assets category was conducted to verify assets in use. All software items were found to be in use. There was no indication that any departmental assets were impaired to any extent approaching materiality.
The department has in place policies and procedures it considers appropriate to assist staff to comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. The department encourages use of established panels and continues to access Whole of Australian Government contracts for the provision of travel and related services. Purchases of stationery and office supplies were made through the Whole of Australian Government contract with Winc.
During the reporting period the department entered into 79 contracts above the reporting threshold, 65 of which were reported on AusTender within the prescribed period. No other identified instances of non-compliance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules have been identified.
The department engages consultants when we lack 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 the department’s decision-making.
Before engaging consultants, the department 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 PGPA Act and PGPA Rules, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and relevant internal policies.
During 2017–18, seven new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total expenditure of $0.054 million. In addition, three ongoing consultancy contracts were active in 2017–18, involving total expenditure of $0.091 million.
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 (www.tenders.gov.au).
Competitive tendering and contracting
There were no instances during 2017–18 when contracts were let that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises, or where the accountable authority exempted a contract from being published on AusTender.
Procurement initiatives to support small business
The department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and medium enterprise (SME) and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website (www.finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts/).
Consistent with paragraph 5.4 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the department’s procurement practices support SMEs by utilising the following practices:
- the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
- on-time payments made to SMEs by electronic funds transfer or by the use of payment cards.
Advertising and market research
During 2017–18, the department did not conduct any advertising campaigns.
Legal services expenditure
Schedule 1, Part 1, paragraph 11.1(ba) of the Legal Services Directions 2017 requires the department to publicly disclose its legal services expenditure. During 2017–18, external legal expenditure was $195,502 ($61,062 in 2016–17). The department did not incur any internal legal expenses during 2017–18 (nil in 2016–17).