Purchasing is undertaken in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. Guidance is provided to staff through the Commission’s purchasing guide and accountable authority instructions. We have a framework for managing the risks inherent in procurement activities, as well as operational guidelines to support staff in assessing the risks associated with their projects. The Commission published its procurement plan for 2016–17 on the AusTender website—www.tenders.gov.au.
The Commission engages consultancy services when particular expertise is not available internally or when independent advice is required. Decisions to engage consultants are made in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and related regulations, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, and other internal policies.
During 2016–17 the Commission entered into 28 new consultancy contracts involving total expenditure of $0.7 million compared with 22 contracts totalling $0.3 million in 2015–16. Seven ongoing consultancy contracts were active during 2016–17, involving total actual expenditure of $0.2 million compared with four contracts totalling $0.3 million in 2015–16.
Information on the value of contracts and consultancies for 2016–17 is available through the AusTender website. The Commission’s standard-form contracts for services and consultancies allow for access by the Auditor-General.
Table 7 details our expenditure on consultancy contracts from 2013–14 to 2016–17.
|Year||Number of new contracts let||Number of ongoing contracts that were active||Total actual expenditure on new contracts ($’000)||Total actual expenditure on ongoing contracts that were active
|Total actual expenditure on contracts
Small business procurement
The Commission supports small businesses’ participation in the Australian government procurement market. Participation statistics for small and medium enterprises and small enterprises for 2016–17 are available on the Department of Finance website—www.finance.gov.au.
We have adopted two specific practices to support procurement from small and medium enterprises:
- use of the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued under $200,000
- use of payment cards for purchases of up to $10,000, to facilitate on-time payment.
The Commissioner may direct that contract details not be reported on the AusTender website if they are subject to an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 or the Commissioner considers the information is genuinely sensitive and harm is likely to be caused by its disclosure. No exemptions were issued during 2016–17.