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 office machines and equipment, plant, and portable and attractive assets was completed during 2018–19. 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 status B furniture assets to DPS. The assets were transferred to DPS for no consideration and had a carrying value at the date of transfer of $2.519 million. Management of these assets is now governed by a memorandum of understanding between DPS and the department.
The furniture replacement project was completed in July 2018. This project consisted of replacing the office furniture located in the staff area of members’ offices. A combination of cash reserves and departmental capital budget funding was used to replace these furniture items.
The department adopts a ‘break–fix’ replacement policy for office machines and equipment. During the year asset purchases included replacement of TVs, fridges, shredders and dishwashers.
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.
Consultants are engaged where the department 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 specialist 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 the PGPA Act and PGPA Rules, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and relevant internal policies.
During 2018–19, five new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total expenditure of $0.161 million. In addition, four ongoing consultancy contracts were active in 2018–19, involving total expenditure of $0.025 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 at www.tenders.gov.au.
Competitive tendering and contracting
There were no instances during 2018–19 where 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 the AusTender website.
Procurement initiatives to support small business
The department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website at 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 2018–19, 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 2018–19, external legal expenditure was $182,872 ($195,502 in 2017–18). The department did not incur any internal legal expenses during 2018–19 (nil in 2017–18).