Purchasing and grants

The Department is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity, and its procurement and grant policies and practices are consistent with:

  • all relevant Commonwealth legislation
  • the Australian Government Financial Framework, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act
  • the Secretary’s Instructions and the Department of Employment’s internal policies and processes.

In relation to procurement and grant activities, the Department provides procurement and grants management advice and guidance on best practices and training, sources ICT goods and services under a centralised model and coordinates contracts and statutory reporting. It helps a number of agencies achieve open, transparent and accountable purchases and value-for-money outcomes by closely working with internal and external stakeholders, using proactive engagement strategies while ensuring that all mandatory reporting obligations are met.

The Department actively communicates with departmental staff about their obligations when undertaking procurement or grant activity by facilitating informed decision making. It continues to be a lead contributor to whole-of-government initiatives aimed at standardising and improving procurement and grants processes while further looking to standardise its own processes and policies and increase its rigour in connection with procurement and grants.

Procurement processes are fair and equitable. It is departmental policy to use panels to select providers while conducting procurement activities in accordance with relevant policies, regulations and legislative requirements.

The Department publishes details of its procurement activities and plans on AusTender. During 2016–17, 48 contracts were exempted from publication on AusTender. The Department is unable to publish details or values of these contracts as doing so would disclose the exempt matters.

In 2016–17, departmental staff were offered procurement and grants information sessions covering a range of subjects, including new processes and changes to existing reporting processes. The Department has made progress in embedding the Indigenous Procurement Policy, which will continue to be a focus into 2017–18.

Information on grants awarded by the Department during 2016–17 is available on the Department's website.

Support for Indigenous businesses and small and medium enterprises

The Department implemented the Indigenous Procurement Policy and internal procurement policies designed to increase opportunities for businesses owned by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It works in partnership with Supply Nation in applying the policies to support the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in Australian government procurement activities.

In 2016–17, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet set the Department of Employment a target of 44 contracts to meet the Indigenous Procurement Policy requirements. We achieved 75 contracts with Indigenous enterprises, representing 5.7 per cent of all our contracts.

The Department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth government procurement market. Participation statistics for small and medium enterprises are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

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.

Consultants

The Department engages consultants to provide independent and expert advice or services, taking into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of those options. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act and related regulations.

The methods of selection used for consultancies are open tender, prequalified tender, limited tender and panel arrangements (initially selected through either an open tender or a prequalified tender process). Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined research, reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist the Department in decision making.

During 2016–17, the Department entered into 62 new consultancies, involving total actual expenditure of $4,226,433. In addition, 20 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the year, involving total actual expenditure of $2,010,810.

Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.