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MANAGEMENT OF ASSETS AND FINANCIAL PROCESSES

ASSET MANAGEMENT

The Office manages administered property, plant and equipment, inventory and departmental plant and equipment and intangible assets with a total net book value of $155.81 million (2018–19: $154.4 million).

As at 30 June 2020, administered non-financial assets comprised:

  • $149.9m of land and buildings. These relate to the two vice-regal properties: Government House and Admiralty House
  • $1.569m of infrastructure, plant and equipment
  • $1.766m of inventories being medals held by the Office and to be issued under the Australian honours and awards system.

The Office continued to deliver its Property Works Plan (PWP) under the revised Administered Capital Budget (ACB) to preserve the current functionality of the Commonwealth-listed heritage properties under its control, in accordance with statutory obligations and heritage requirements. Further information is provided under ‘Property management’ in the ‘Report on performance’.

As at 30 June 2020, Departmental assets comprised:

  • $1.573m of infrastructure, plant and equipment primarily relating to gardening and information technology
  • $869,000 of intangibles representing ordinary software
  • $35,000 of inventories
  • $102,000 of other non-financial assets, representing pre-payments made by the Office.

The Office receives a Department Capital Budget (DCB) to replace assets which have reached the end of their useful life. The Office monitors the management of assets on an ongoing basis to ensure that the planned expenditure from DCB reflects the Office’s business requirements.

The management of assets is governed by the Accountable Authority Instruction (AAI) on managing public property and the Office’s Asset Management Policy. These policies cover the proper stewardship of assets throughout the asset lifecycle, including the purchasing, stocktaking, impairment and disposal of assets. These policies are regularly communicated to staff through compulsory training and are available online.

PURCHASING

The Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) and the Office’s AAIs provide the framework within which decisions about the procurement of goods and services are made. The Office’s procurement policies and practices focus on:

  • value for money
  • encouraging competition
  • the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of government resources
  • accountability and transparency in procurement
  • procurement risk
  • procurement method.

A range of positions within the Office have delegated responsibility for the exercise of powers under the PGPA Act. A position-based electronic purchasing workflow system is used for approval of purchase orders to be raised. Branch Directors and Section Managers continue to be responsible for the expenditure of funds and the management of assets under their control.

The Office has ongoing contracts to provide a variety of contractor services, including internal audit, banking, payroll, office cleaning, and property maintenance and minor works. The Office supports small business participation in the Australian Government procurement market. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

The Office supports its employees in managing procurement by providing information and training on procurement policies and procedures, and maintaining a central point of contact for advice on the CPRs, AAIs and tendering processes.

The Office actively engages with Indigenous enterprises (in accordance with Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy) and SME in its procurement of goods and services, including commitment to pay on time to agreed terms and to seek opportunities to reduce the payment time.

CONSULTANTS

The Office engages consultants on an as-required basis to provide professional and specialist services for building works and architectural services, administrative projects, information technology support and systems development, and to facilitate organisational change and management reforms for which the Office does not have the available capacity or staff or there is a need for independent research.

Prior to engaging consultants, the Office 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 its related rules and regulations including the CPRs and relevant internal policies.

During 2019–20, 14 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $272,882. In addition, 10 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $167,397. This information is also contained in Appendix H, Table H1.

Expenditure on consultancy contracts over the three most recent financial years is presented at Appendix H, Table H2: Trends in consultancies.

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.

LEGAL SERVICES EXPENDITURE

In accordance with the requirements of the Legal Services Directions 2017, the Office reports that total expenditure on external legal services in 2019–20 was $38,319 (including GST).

COMPETITIVE TENDERING AND CONTRACTING

During the reporting year, the Office did not contract to another organisation the delivery of any program activities it had previously performed.

AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE ACCESS CLAUSES

The Office did not enter into any contract of $100,000 or more (including GST) during 2019–20 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor’s premises.

EXEMPT CONTRACTS

The Official Secretary did not exempt any contract or standing offer in excess of $10,000 from being published on AusTender on the basis that it would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

ADVERTISING AND MARKET RESEARCH

The Office did not undertake any advertising campaigns or market research during 2019–20.

DISCRETIONARY GRANTS

The Office neither made nor administered any discretionary grants during the financial year.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The Office’s outcomes continued to be supported by improvements to the security, reliability and functionality of its information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure as outlined in the ICT Strategic Plan 2018–2023.

Strategic objectives achieved in 2019–20 included:

  • support of the Office throughout the ongoing COVID-19 period, allowing both the Governor-General and the Office to continue their duties with the deployment of video conferencing and remote working solutions
  • redesign and security uplift of the Office’s underlying network infrastructure.

The Office conducted an end-to-end review of ICT capabilities and developed a modernisation program which addresses several critical risks to the Office whilst supporting and empowering our people with technology to be innovative and work collaboratively to deliver impressive outcomes. As a PGPA Act agency, the Office participated in and benefited from a range of the Australian Government’s whole-of-government initiatives, including co-ordinated telecommunications services, software and hardware procurement.