Are procurement rules too hard to follow?

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.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.

  • Sober_Philip

    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.