DVA’s financial accountability responsibilities are set out in the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework, which governs how officials in the Commonwealth public sector use and manage public resources.
Asset management and accommodation
DVA runs an effective asset management program, registering assets on receipt in the financial management system and conducting an annual stocktake. Asset accounting functions and the management of intangible assets are centrally controlled, while day-to-day management of physical assets is decentralised to regional locations.
In 2018–19 DVA continued to review its accommodation requirements across Australia, aiming to minimise the expense and extent of lease accommodation while maintaining quality and service delivery capability. DVA uses a whole-of-Government property provider, Jones Lang LaSalle, to manage its property portfolio. This arrangement delivers a simplified administrative arrangement and leverages the bulk buying power of the whole-of-Government provider.
The Secretary’s Instructions are currently being updated in line with the PGPA Act. DVA has consolidated the Accountable Authority Instructions (AAIs) with the Secretary’s Instructions into a single overarching set of financial policy directives, which will be referred to as the AAIs. We have has also updated the financial delegations and incorporated these into the AAIs. The consolidated AAIs will provide clearer instructions for officials in relation to resource management.
There was one instance of significant non-compliance with the finance law in 2018–19 which was notified to the Minister in accordance with Resource Management Guide No. 214. Departmental transactions totalling $4.1 million were found to be incorrectly recorded as administered items. They were subsequently transferred to departmental operations.
DVA engages in procurement and contracting activities in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) and the Commonwealth Procurement Framework. In 2018–19 resources were made available to DVA staff, the Repatriation Commission and the MRCC. These resources included procurement templates, better practice guides, contract management advice, and assistance to ensure compliance with the CPRs, the Commonwealth Procurement Framework and mandatory reporting requirements.
DVA is subject to internal and external (Australian National Audit Office) audits of compliance with the Commonwealth Procurement Framework. We work with the auditors to improve our performance against the core principles of Commonwealth procurement.
DVA engages consultants when it requires specialist expertise or when independent research or short-term projects are undertaken. Its selection processes:
- observe Government and departmental procurement policies
- are publicly defensible, promoting fair competition and effective service
- are based on predetermined selection criteria
- realise best value for money.
During 2018–19 DVA entered into 75 new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $20.16 million. In addition, 45 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during 2018–19, involving total actual expenditure of $8.77 million.
Expenditure on consultancies
Table 12: Expenditure on consultancies, 2016–17 to 2018–19
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the estimated value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website: www.tenders.gov.au.
DVA did not seek any exemptions from gazettal under the FOI Act in 2018–19.
All DVA contractual arrangements have in place a facility for the Auditor-General and accountability personnel to access contractual material, including at the contractor’s premises. All DVA contracts are based on either the DVA template or the Commonwealth Contracting Suite, both of which contain access clauses.
Procurement initiatives to support small business
DVA 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 website: www.finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts.
Health and wellbeing services are provided to veterans through DVA’s arrangements with over 60,000 providers, the majority of which are SMEs.
DVA recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury website: www.treasury.gov.au.
The Indigenous Procurement Policy requires agencies to direct a percentage of business to Indigenous suppliers. The target for DVA in 2018–19 was 31 contracts, which we exceeded by 23 contracts in the period.
DVA’s procurement practices support SMEs, consistent with paragraph 5.4 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, by:
- using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
- striving to communicate in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format in all documents
- using electronic systems to facilitate on-time payment performance, including the use of payment cards.