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Other reporting requirements

Purchasing

The Commission applies the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. The Commission’s purchases of goods and services during 2020-21 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 2020-21 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/.

Consultancies

The Commission continued to utilise the services of a small number of consultants during the year where it was cost‑effective to do so.

During 2020-21, the Commission entered into three new consultancy contracts and there were five ongoing consultancy contracts that had been entered into during 2019-20. Total expenditure on consultancies was $66,965 (Number and expenditure on consultants, current reporting period (2020-21)).

Number and expenditure on consultants, current reporting period (2020-21)

Number

Expenditure $ (GST inc.)

New contracts entered into during the reporting period

3

$44,730

Ongoing contracts entered into during a previous reporting period

5

$22,235

Total

8

$66,965

Table 7.2.2 provides information on consultants in the five years to 2020-21.

Expenditure on consultancies, 2016-17 to 2020-21

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

$'000

$'000

$'000

$'000

$'000

Expenditure

98

98

63

181

67

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.

Reportable non consultancy contracts

During 2020-21, the Commission entered into six new reportable non‑consultancy contracts and there were two ongoing consultancy contracts that had been entered into during 2019‑20. Total expenditure on reportable non‑consultancy contracts was $120,030

Number and expenditure on reportable non consultancy contracts, current reporting period (2020-21)

Number

Expenditure $ (GST inc.

New contracts entered into during the reporting period

6

78,010

Ongoing contracts entered into during a previous reporting period

2

42,020

Total

8

120,030

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on reportable non-consultancy contracts. Information on the value of reportable non-consultancy contracts is available on the AusTender website.

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 Resources Sector Regulation study and the inquiry into National Water Reform are examples of work undertaken in 2020-21 that required 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 2020‑21, the Commission recorded energy usage of 3,307 MJ/person/annum (2019‑20: 4,407 MJ/person/annum) against the Government’s energy target of 7,500 MJ/person/annum for tenant light and power usage in office buildings. The major reason behind the reduction in office occupant density is due to COVID-19 restrictions and improved TLP (Tenant Light and Power) performance. The Commission has offices in Melbourne and Canberra in buildings that have 5.0 star and 4.5 stars NABERS Energy ratings respectively.

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. Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031, which is the successor to the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020, is due to be released in the second half of 2021.

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), press releases, email alerts, notification on the Commission’s website and via social media, and distribution of Commission circulars.

In 2020-21, expenditure on advertising related to commissioned Inquiries and studies was $7,385.