Thursday, 30 May 2024
    Social, ethical

    "This makes no sense" - Pocock challenges government procurement practices which leave Indigenous-owned and small business missing out

    Known for his big plays on the field and in the senate, former rugby union player and now senator David Pocock has called for reforming government procurement to give small businesses a chance 

    Pocock highlighted a disconnect between how businesses that secure government grants to develop useful products were often obstructed from gaining access to departments that could potentially use the new technology.  

    Pocock described a case where one small business said, the government officials responsible for administering the grant they had received to help build world-leading AI-based capability, then refused to put them in contact with the government officials responsible for implementing precisely that capability. An exasperated Pocock said, “Having received a grant is no guarantee of a company’s suitability for a government contract thereafter. But shouldn’t governments at least consider using the products they have helped to fund?” 

    Another area of improvement for government procurement is integrity. Pocock calls into question procurement practices of larger companies who unethically remodel their structures to make the shoe fit. Pocock says there is evidence of a pattern of behaviour of large companies  setting up SME arms and subsidiaries that are majority Indigenous-owned specifically to make themselves eligible for indigenous-targeted contracts. 

    Pockock goes on to say, “We don’t have a process in place to guarantee that the public servants making the procurement decisions actually know whether or not they are dealing with an Australian SME when inviting a company to bid on — or when awarding — a government contract.” 

    A human-centric approval process in procurement is something we’ve already baked into our work here at Procurement Australia. Fostering integrity and a dedication to fairness in our procurement processes ensures a level playing field for everyone involved.

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