Management of financial resources

Purchasing

All goods and services were purchased in accordance with the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and the Clerk’s Instructions.

Significant procurement activities during the financial year included the replacement of:

  • high-volume monochrome copiers for use in the department’s print room
  • multifunction devices for office-holders (shadow ministers and whips)
  • folding tables for use in committee rooms
  • around one-third of the mobile phone fleet.

Asset management

The Senators’ Services Section, the Information Technology Section and the Financial Management Section are responsible for the effective management of Senate assets.

A new assets system was implemented to replace the ageing assets database. The new system is integrated with the department’s financial management information system, FinanceOne, and provides better functionality and reporting. The stocktake team used the new system for the 2008–09 stocktake and found that its simplified processes contributed to an improved result.

At 30 June 2009, the department controlled 3,363 assets with a fair value of $2.9 million (last year’s total was 4,286 assets with a fair value of $4.3 million). In 2008–09, 369 assets were added and 665 assets were written off. A total of 627 assets (mainly furniture, fittings and related items) were consolidated during the transfer of asset management systems. This consolidation did not affect written down values.

On completion of the annual stocktake in June 2009, 37 assets—with a depreciated value of $18,800—could not be located. Of these, four had not been found in the previous stocktake and have been written off.

The 2008–09 stocktake result was better than the 2007–08 result, and subsequent follow-up improved it further.

Consultants and competitive tendering and contracting

The policies and procedures for selecting consultants, conducting tenders, contracting, and approving expenditure are set out in the Clerk’s Instructions. Those instructions take into account the requirements of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines and Senate Standing Order 25(17) (relating to approval of consultants for committees).

In accordance with recommendation 9 of the second report of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration on the operation of the Senate order for the production of lists of departmental and agency contracts, information on the department’s expenditure on contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website: www.tenders.gov.au.

Consultants

The department engages consultants to facilitate specialist projects or to obtain independent professional and technical advice.

In 2008–09, the department entered into five new consultancy contracts involving total expenditure of $0.134 million. A further three ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the 2008–09 year, involving total actual expenditure of $0.123 million.

Table 7 provides details of consultancy contracts let during 2008–09 to the value of $10,000 or more.

Table 7 Consultancy services let to the value of $10,000 or more, 2008–09
Consultant name Description Contract price Selection process Justification
Concept Economics Review of the economic models 11,000 Direct sourcing B, C
Susanne Tongue Legal advice 41,470 Direct sourcing B, C
Ipsos Public Affairs Pty Ltd Survey and written report 24,970 Direct sourcing B, C
Professor S Bottomley Legal advice 179,468 Direct sourcing B, C
Total   256,908    

a Explanation of selection process terms drawn from the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (December 2008):

Open tender—a procurement procedure in which a request for tender is published inviting all businesses that satisfy the conditions for participation to submit tenders. Public tenders are generally sought from the Australian Government AusTender internet site.

Select tender—a procurement procedure in which the procuring agency selects which potential suppliers are invited to submit tenders. This procurement process may only be used under certain defined circumstances.

Direct sourcing—a form of restricted tendering, available only under certain defined circumstances, with a single potential supplier or suppliers being invited to bid because of their unique expertise and/or their special ability to supply the goods and/or services sought.

Panel—an arrangement under which a number of suppliers, initially selected through an open tender process, may each supply property or services to an agency as specified in the panel arrangements. Quotes are sought from suppliers that have pre-qualified on the agency panels to supply to the government. This category includes standing offers and supplier panels where the supply of goods and services may be provided for a predetermined length of time, usually at a prearranged price.

b Justification for decision to use consultancy:
A—skills currently unavailable within agency
B—need for specialised or professional skills
C—need for independent research or assessment.

Competitive tendering and contracting

All contracts with a potential value greater than $80,000 are open to a competitive tendering process through AusTender.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website: www.tenders.gov.au.

The department listed all its contract details on the internet, at www.aph.gov.au/senate/contracts.htm, in accordance with the Senate Order on Departmental and Agency Contracts.

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