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12.4 Purchasing

The department periodically reviews its Accountable Authority Instructions (AAIs) to ensure that procurement activities and related policy and procedural publications remain aligned with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and the Commonwealth Procurement Framework. The most recent changes to the AAIs took effect from Friday 28 September 2018.


Consultancy contracts

The department engages consultants to provide specialist professional services, independent research or assessment and necessary skills that are otherwise unavailable in the department.

The department categorises consultancy contracts in accordance with the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 for annual reports and the guidance from the Department of Finance on reporting consultancies. In addition to the requirements of the department’s procurement guidelines and policies, all proposals for consultancy services are compliance assessed by two procurement specialists before they go to the relevant delegate for approval.

During 2018–19, 52 new consultancy contracts were entered into, involving total actual expenditure of $16,373,253 (including GST). In addition, 16 active ongoing consultancy contracts were in place during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $4,577,554 (including GST).

Table 60 below shows total expenditure (including GST) on consultancy contracts for 2018–19 and the previous two financial years.

Table 60: Expenditure on consultancy services

$ (including GST)

$ (including GST)

$ (including GST)

New consultancy services expenditure




Ongoing consultancy services expenditure




Total consultancy services expenditure




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 at tenders.gov.au

ANAO access clause

All the department’s contract templates include a standard clause giving the Auditor‑General appropriate access to a contractor’s premises and records.

Exempt contracts

In 2018–19, the department had $3,235,503 in contracts that the Secretary had exempted from publication on AusTender.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

The department 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’s website.

The department 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 at finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts/

The department supports SMEs through a range of procurement measures, including:

  • using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low‑risk procurements valued under $1 million
  • implementing the Supplier Diversity Strategy to increase the level of activity between the department and supplier groups such as Australian Disability Enterprises and Indigenous SMEs
  • being a member of Supply Nation—a non‑profit organisation that supports growth in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business sector by promoting supplier diversity
  • mandatory reporting against the Australian Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy and the department’s RAP on the number of contracts, contract values and expenditure for all Indigenous SMEs. In 2018–19, the department spent $25.0 million (including GST) with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, exceeding the RAP target of $6 million
  • using Australian Industry Participation Plans in whole‑of‑government procurement where applicable
  • encouraging credit card use to expedite payments.