As at 30 June 2020, the NFRA spent 79% of its full year budget allocation. The underspend of $854,000 largely related to the Expert Panel not being established, savings in expected agency establishment costs and the appointment of one SESB1 position instead of two as originally intended. Savings in travel expenses were also realised due to imposition of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The majority of the NFRA’s budget was spent on employee costs and expenses relating to MOU corporate services (establishment costs and ongoing monthly service fees), labour hire, contracted services and consultants.
Table 1.10 NFRA Resource Statement subset Summary for the year ended 30 June 2020
Actual Available appropriation – 2019–20
Ordinary annual services
S.74 retained revenue receipts2
Total departmental resourcing and payments
Source: Appropriation Act (No.1) 2019–20 (Infrastructure, Cities and Regional Development Portfolio) and the NFRA Financial Statements 2019–20. Infrastructure PBS 2019–20 does not include the NFRA.
1 Appropriation Act (No.1) 2019–20
2 Includes retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the PGPA Act.
Table 1.11 NFRA expenses for Outcome 1 in 2019–20
Budget 2019–20 (a)
Actual Expenses (b)
Program 1.1 National Faster Rail Agency
Expenses not requiring appropriation in the budget year2
Total expenses for Outcome 1
Source: Appropriation Act (No.1) 2019–20 (Infrastructure, Cities and Regional Development Portfolio) and the NFRA Financial Statements 201920. Infrastructure PBS 2019–20 does not include the NFRA.
1 Departmental appropriation combines ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) and retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the PGPA Act.
2 Includes audit services received free of charge.
Purchasing and procurement practices
The NFRA’s purchasing and procurement activities during 2019–20 were undertaken in accordance with the PGPA Act and the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.
Through an MOU arrangement, the department provides procurement services to the NFRA, with appropriate controls in place to ensure procurement is carried out in accordance with relevant procurement rules and legislative requirements. The department publishes the NFRA’s procurement activities and annual procurement plans on AusTender.
The NFRA engages consultants to provide specialist or technical advice, investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem, undertake independent research, reviews or evaluations, and provide recommendations to assist in decision making.
During the 2019–20 reporting period, two new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $177,138. No ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period.
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultants is available on the AusTender website.
Table 1.12 Number and expenditure on consultants in 2019–20
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)
During the 2019–20 reporting period, no contracts in excess of $10,000 were exempted from publication on AusTender on the basis that they would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
Australian National Audit Office Access Clauses
All contracts valued at $100,000 or more routinely include a requirement for access to the contractor’s premises by the Auditor-General.
Legal services expenditure
Under section 11.1(ba) of the Legal Services Directions 2017, the NFRA must make publicly available by 30 October, records of legal services expenditure for the previous financial year.
During 2019–20, the NFRA’s total external legal services expenditure was $6,497.
During 2019–20, the NFRA did not administer any grant programs.
The NFRA supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.
The NFRA’s procurement practices are aligned with those of the department through an MOU arrangement to support SMEs by using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for eligible procurements valued under $200,000; utilising clear and concise approach-to-market documents to assist potential suppliers to produce responses that do not require extensive time and effort; facilitating on-time payment of invoices; and encouraging the use of credit card payments for procurements valued under $10,000.
Advertising and market research
The NFRA did not undertake any advertising and market research activities during the 2019–20 reporting period.