The Commission applies the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. The Commission’s purchases of goods and services during 2018‑19 were consistent with the ‘value‑for‑money’ principle underpinning those rules.
The Commission did not enter into any contracts or standing offers that were exempt from AusTender publication. Contracts of $100 000 or more (inclusive of GST) during 2018‑19 included a provision for the ANAO to have access to the contractor’s premises if required.
The Commission supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market by, for example, use of the Commonwealth Contracting suite for low‑risk procurements valued under $200 000 and communication in clear, simple language in accordance with the Small Business Engagement Principles. Small and medium enterprises 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/.
The Commission continued to utilise the services of a small number of consultants during the year where it was cost‑effective to do so. Many of the consultancies were for the purpose of refereeing particular pieces of work and were generally of relatively low cost.
During 2018‑19, the Commission entered into five new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $0.047 million. There were three ongoing consultancy contracts active involving total actual expenditure of $0.016 million during the 2018‑19 year.
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.
Ecologically sustainable development (ESD)
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, agencies are required — through their annual reports — to report on ecologically sustainable development (ESD) and environmental matters. This requirement is part of the Government’s program to improve progress in implementing ESD.
The Commission operates under statutory guidelines, one of which is to have regard to the need ‘to ensure that industry develops in a way that is ecologically sustainable’ (s. 8(1)(i) of the Productivity Commission Act 1998). This legislation also prescribes that at least one member of the Commission ‘must have extensive skills and experience in matters relating to the principles of ecologically sustainable development and environmental conservation’ (s. 26(3)).
There are five aspects against which agencies are required to report.
The first relates to how an agency’s actions during the reporting period accorded with the principles of ESD. Reflecting its statutory guidelines, ESD principles are integral to the Commission’s analytical frameworks, their weighting depending on the particular inquiry or research topic. The Commission’s five‑year assessment of the Murray‑Darling Basin Plan is a recent example of work undertaken requiring integration of complex economic, social and environmental considerations.
The second reporting requirement asks how the Government’s outcome for the Commission contributes to ESD. As stated elsewhere in this report, the outcome nominated for the Commission is:
Well‑informed policy decision making and public understanding on matters relating to Australia’s productivity and living standards, based on independent and transparent analysis from a community‑wide perspective.
In pursuing this outcome, the Commission is required to take into account impacts on the community as a whole — these may be economic, social and/or environmental. The transparency of its processes provides the opportunity for anyone with an interest in an inquiry to make their views known and to have these considered. Consequently, a broad range of views and circumstances are taken into account, in keeping with the ESD principle that ‘decision‑making processes should effectively integrate both long‑term and short‑term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations’.
The third to fifth reporting requirements relate to the impact of the Commission’s internal operations on the environment. The Commission is a relatively small, largely office‑based, organisation in rented accommodation, and it adopts measures aimed at the efficient management of waste and minimising energy consumption.
In order to manage its impacts on the environment in a systematic and ongoing way, the Commission maintains an Environmental Management System. The Environmental Management System contains the Commission’s environmental policy, an environmental management program to address identified impacts, and provision for monitoring and reporting on performance.
During 2018‑19, the Commission recorded energy usage of 4853 MJ/person/annum (2017‑18: 4619 MJ/person/annum) against the Government’s energy target of 7500 MJ/person/annum for tenant light and power usage in office buildings. The Commission has offices in Melbourne and Canberra in buildings that have 4.5 star NABERS Energy ratings.
National Disability Strategy
Since 1994, Commonwealth departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007‑08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. From 2010‑11, departments and agencies have no longer been required to report on these functions.
The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, which sets out a ten‑year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high‑level two‑yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the Strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014, and can be found at www.dss.gov.au.
Freedom of information
Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. Each agency must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements. The Commission’s plan is at www.pc.gov.au/about/governance/freedom-of-information.
Advertising and market research
The Commission does not undertake ‘advertising campaigns’. But it does publicise its government‑commissioned inquiries and studies so that any individual, firm or organisation with an interest has an opportunity to present their views. Publicity takes the form of newspaper advertisements (as required by the Productivity Commission Act 1998), regular distribution of PC News, press releases, email alerts, notification on the Commission’s website and via social media, and distribution of Commission circulars.
In 2018‑19, a total of $8693 was paid to Dentsu X Australia Pty Ltd for advertising and a total of $40 573 was paid to Universal McCann for advertising (including recruitment advertising).