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Home Features Are procurement rules too hard to follow?
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DEPARTMENTSDepartment of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian National Audit Office, Department of Human Services, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
TAGS Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian National Audit Office, Procurement, Department of Human Services, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Australian Border Force, Ian McPhee, E-procurement, Supply chain management
In one of Ian McPhee’s last investigations as auditor-general, he went back to past recommendations on the application of procurement rules. Despite being on the books for a decade and based on principles far older still, actually following them seems to remain a problem.
A volley of audits were released last week as auditor-general Ian McPhee handed over the role to Grant Hehir. Among those audits was one that looked at limited tender procurement, which puts agencies at risk of spending too much and has the potential to unfairly exclude some of their potential suppliers.
The report repeats several previous recommendations from ANAO that federal entities generally need to use competitive procurement processes more often than they do.
The auditors ran the ruler over three different federal agencies: the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS), which now exists in name only ahead of the emergence of Australian Border Force next month, along with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Human Services.
The report found all three were “reasonably familiar” with the procurement rules, as one would expect, and this was reflected in their own in-house guidance.
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Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
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There is a variety of reasons why the Commonwealth Procurement Rules may be hard to follow. But undoubtedly the Department of Finance’s inability to produce plain language legislative instruments and guidance is one of them is one of them. If you read the guidance issued by the Department on 6 November 2015, following the Belcher Report, you will see indisputable evidence that the Department, at the highest level, has no grip on the subject.