Chapter 6 - Purchasing, Competitive Tendering and Contracting

Overview

The NCA’s procurement policies

and practices reflect the principles set out in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. We focus on:

  • value for money – encouraging competition
  • the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of government resources
  • accountability and transparency
  • compliance with other government policies.

Consultants and Consultancies

The NCA engages consultants in circumstances where it lacks specialist expertise or when independent research, review or assessment is required. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem, carry out defined reviews or evaluations, assist with capital works procurement and delivery, or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the NCA’s decision-making.

Prior to engaging consultants, the NCA takes into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with Section 15 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (PGPA) Act 2013 and PGPA Rule 2015 and related regulations, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and relevant NCA internal policies.

During 2014–15 the NCA entered into 23 new consultancy contracts; collectively, the total expenditure was $656,727.87 (incl. GST). In addition, 16 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during 2013–14, with a total expenditure of $426,361 (incl. GST).

Contracts and Tenders

The NCA is committed to achieving the best value for money in its procurement practices. Purchasing practices and procedures set out in the NCA Accountable Authority Instructions are consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

The majority of NCA contracts contain confidentiality provisions of a general nature that are designed to protect the confidential information of the parties that may be obtained or generated in carrying out the contract. The reasons for including such clauses are for:

  • ordinary commercial prudence that requires protection of trade secrets, proprietary information and the like
  • protection of other Commonwealth material and personal information.

Details of NCA’s Procurement contracts are available through the Senate Order Report located on the Australian Government tender system, AusTender.

Purchasing

The NCA’s policies and Accountable Authority Instructions on purchasing goods and services are consistent with Commonwealth Procurement Rules and other policy advice issued by the Australian Government, thereby maximising competitive opportunities on the basis of value for money. Wherever possible and appropriate, recycled and recyclable products are purchased. Attention is paid to the energy efficiency of equipment and to applicable guidelines on sustainability.

In accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the NCA ensures that above the relevant procurement threshold opportunities are published on AusTender. During 2014–15 the NCA had no contracts that were exempt from reporting on AusTender.

The NCA published its Annual Procurement Plan on the AusTender website in accordance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules. The Annual Procurement Plan is a strategic procurement outlook, providing details of significant planned procurements by the NCA for the coming year.

Quality Assurance Certification

A quality assurance certification in accordance with the Australian Industry Standard and International Organisation for Standardisation is generally required for the provision of services under estate management, development and renewal contracts. Examples of industry standards applicable to current contractors include:

  • AS/NZS 4801:2001 (Occupational Health and Safety Systems)
  • ISO 9001:2008 (Quality Management Systems)
  • ISO14001 (Environmental).

Quality Management Plans

For large construction contracts the managing contractor prepares and maintains quality management plans and must deliver milestone reports. Key Performance Indicators for these contracts enable the NCA to assess contracts against the requisite standard and the quality and delivery of services provided.

Program and Exception Reporting

For major estate management and asset maintenance contracts, the contractor is required to provide an annual maintenance program, including condition reports which detail the condition of assets and address the required work. The contractor must also provide the NCA with monthly reports detailing their activities against the maintenance program.

These assessments and programming are vital in improving public safety and assisting in prolonging the life of the National Capital’s assets.

For major estate development and renewal capital works, contractors and consultants are required to report at regular intervals on project design and construction progress.

Contract Performance Monitoring

Any contract of a long duration is observed by the NCA at regular meetings and active monitoring of compliance under the contract. Communication between the NCA and contractors is strong, facilitating the provision of early oral and written advice and the taking of action to ensure contract conditions and specifications are met.

The NCA is committed to continual improvement in the management of contracts. Contract management plans are reviewed each year and annually five contracts are subject to peer review.

Asset Management

Asset management is a key aspect in meeting the NCA’s commitment to maintaining high-quality public facilities across the National Capital Estate. The NCA takes a strategic approach to the way it manages its assets. The asset management framework assists the NCA to effectively manage its assets and includes:

  • an Asset Management Strategy, which recognises the significance of National Capital assets and the inter-relationships between them, and links with the NCA business plan and operational activities
  • a Capital Management Plan, which is the mechanism for implementing the strategy intent for the asset portfolio at the individual asset level
  • Asset Management Guides, which are short-term plans and internal controls
  • an Asset Register, which records information such as asset locations and their current condition, accounting information and maintenance programs.

For further details on the NCA’s management and maintenance of national assets, see Chapter 4.