Wednesday, 29 May 2024
    Public Sector, Procurement Rigour

    "Tarting up AusTender!" report recommends improvements in how the APS uses panels for tendering

    'Commitment issues' - An inquiry into Commonwealth procurement is a new report that raises major issues with Government procurement. 

    Chaired by Julian Hill, of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA), he tells us, “Put plainly, the Commonwealth has serious commitment issues. AusTender is no AusTinder and it needs reform.” 

    Issues range from noncompliance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs), consistent failures to demonstrate value for money, conduct procurements in line with ethical requirements or keeping adequate records, and substandard contract management. 

    With procurement being big business, what kind of figures are we talking about here? Well, of the government work contracted to the major consultant firms last financial year, new contracts comprised more than $1.6 billion. The APS spent a further $300 million on contract variations or extensions. Additionally and alarmingly, almost $2 billion in taxpayer money was paid in 2021-22 to the five major consulting firms – Accenture, KPMG, Deloitte, PWC and Ernst & Young.  

    To ensure value for money, Hill said, “Public servants need to get far more comfortable and skilled with playing the field and sharpening their pencils on suppliers, even if this leads to difficult conversations and rejection.”  

    Hill is also aware that it is easier said than done, he continues, “There is a lot of flexibility for agencies to determine how they will conduct their procurements and determine what 'value for money' is in light of their circumstances. But this flexibility brings added complexity and an increased risk of non-compliance.” 

    Audited government entities considered by the inquiry, including the Department of Defence, Home Affairs, the Digital Transformation Agency, DISER and the National Capital Authority, were reviewed against numerous factors around value for money through competition, probity, and strong contract management.  

    Across these issues and these departments, the report makes many recommendations for change, as well as various recommendations are also directed specifically at individual agencies.  

    At Procurement Australia, we pride ourselves on our deep knowledge of local government requirements. Our commitment to rigorous and transparent procurement practices is encapsulated in our public sector-compliant tender process. We stand behind every public sector project and contract we appoint suppliers to, from energy to event management.  

    To read the report recommendations, head to the Chair’s Foreward on the APH website.