The Australian Federal Police (AFP) seeks approval to proceed with an office fit-out and security hardening of new leased premises at 1120 Hay Street and 629 Murray Street, West Perth, Western Australia.
The AFP Western Command works closely with a range of other law enforcement and government agencies at state, territory, Commonwealth and international levels to enhance security and provide secure regional and global environments. According to the AFP, these activities include support of operations, capability and capacity.
The estimated cost of the project is $27.1 million (excluding GST).
The project was referred to the Committee on 30 April 2020.
Conduct of the inquiry
Following referral, the inquiry was publicised on the Committee’s website via media release.
The Committee received one submission and one confidential submission. A list of submissions can be found at Appendix A.
On 8 July 2020, the Committee conducted a site inspection by presentation, public and in-camera hearings via teleconference. A transcript of the public hearing is available on the Committee’s website.
Need for the works
The AFP told the Committee that in 2017, the AFP undertook a detailed security assessment of its current Western Command Headquarters (WCHQ) located at 619 Murray Street, West Perth. As a result of the assessment, the AFP concluded that it was unable to upgrade the physical security of the current site to meet the required baseline of security vulnerability protection.
In its submission, the AFP outlined that its security assessment found significant deficiencies in the construction of the building which could not be upgraded to align with current security requirements, without exorbitant cost impact. The AFP stated:
The construction of the property rendered it unable to be remediated to afford an appropriate level of protection, regardless of expenditure. Consequently, the AFP has a need to identify, lease, fitout and relocate into more contemporary accommodation, whilst allowing the make good and lease completion of the existing premises before November 2021.
Consequently, the lease has undergone negotiations for incremental lease extensions whilst the AFP has undertaken a rigorous analysis of alternate accommodation options. The WCHQ is now proposed to relocate to and suitable site at 1120 Hay Street and 629 Murray Street, West Perth.
The AFP told the Committee that:
The new office accommodation will be purpose-built, allowing for efficiencies in operations and responsive readiness. All specialist functions including Forensics, Intelligence, Counter Terrorism, Organised Crime, Crime Operations and Child Protection will be delivered regionally ensuring ongoing productivity and significant resource savings relating to travel.
The Committee is satisfied that the need for the works exists.
In selecting 1120 Hay Street and 629 Murray Street as the location for the proposed works, the AFP undertook a competitive procurement process which began in 2017:
The AFP, supported by the Department of Finance Property Division and Whole of Government Property Provider JLL, conducted a competitive procurement process commencing in 2017 which lasted until October 2018. The assessment included an Operational and Functional Analysis, a Security Vulnerability Assessment, an Engineering Due Diligence report and a Cost Benefit Analysis in accordance with Department of Finance guidelines.
Consequently, the final Cost Benefit Analysis recommended that the AFP:
Commit to both 1120 Hay Street and the adjoining building at 629 Murray Street, West Perth as the preferred outcome to meet the AFP’s requirements and security objectives. While the area of the combined buildings exceeds the space requirements of the AFP, by leasing both buildings the AFP will retain control of the security and access requirements. Surplus space can be sublet to other government departments and/or law enforcement agencies.
In their submission to the inquiry, the APF told the Committee that:
The proposed new premises (constructed in 2012) are considerably more suitable and cost effective to undertake the required security works to comply with current baseline standards, provides the physical separation for forensics as recommended in the [Forensics Laboratory Remediation Program] and allows the AFP to appropriately manage multiple tenants.
Additionally, the AFP noted that ‘the new premises provide more capacity than the AFP current requirements, the configuration of the building and annexe meets the security requirements to an extent that the overall lease becomes significantly greater value for money, as there is considerably less expenditure required to upgrade infrastructure.’
As a result of this process, the AFP state that the ‘preferred option is for the AFP WASO to relocate to new accommodation at 1120 Hay Street and 629 Murray Street, West Perth, fitout 4,000 square meters and sub-lease 2,000 square meters.’
Scope of the works
In its submission, the AFP states that it:
proposes to undertake base building enhancements and fitout three of the floors in 1120 Murray Street, plus both floors of 629 Murray Street, West Perth. Relocation will occur over a staged process in line with handover of parts of the building to ensure full operational readiness and capability of the AFP is maintained during the relocation.
The scope of the office fit-out component includes:
agile work environment incorporating activity based working with shared facilities;
functional workspaces allowing for up to 185 occupants to utilise workstations installed in a generally open plan arrangement with functional areas located, segregated and controlled (zoned) to support operational policing requirements;
operational rooms and briefing facilities;
Major Incident Room (MIR);
specialist laboratories and workshops;
specialist capability and functional operational policing training areas;
breakout and muster spaces;
shared facilities including conference and training rooms, gymnasium and a media centre.
A range of base building works are required to meet the AFP’s requirements, including mechanical services, hydraulic services, electrical services, fire protection and specialist information and communications technology services.
The AFP discussed its specific security requirements, noting that the security measures need to ensure:
Compliance with ASIO’s and AFP’s respective policies and frameworks.
Adoption of a consistent Operational Security Management Plan across the building premises to ensure currency of the security measures at the site.
The AFP note in their submission that the onsite physical construction works ‘are anticipated to commence in 4th Quarter 2020 to enable occupation by August 2021 driven by the existing premises end of occupancy.’
The Committee examined the issue of security requirements in more detail in the in-camera hearing, and is satisfied that the need has been adequately addressed. Moreover, the Committee finds that the proposed scope of works is suitable for the works to meet its purpose.
Cost of the works
The project has a budget of $27.1 million, exclusive of GST. It includes a lease incentive of $5.4 million from the landlord.
The AFP provided further detail on project costings in its confidential submission and during the in-camera hearing.
The Committee is satisfied that the costings for the project provided to it have been adequately assessed by the proponent entity.
The Committee did not identify any issues of concern with the proposal and is satisfied that the project has merit in terms of need, scope and cost.
Having regard to its role and responsibilities contained in the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the Committee is of the view that this project signifies value for money for the Commonwealth and constitutes a project which is fit for purpose, having regard to the established need.
The Committee recommends that the House of Representatives resolve, pursuant to Section 18(7) of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, that it is expedient to carry out the following proposed works: Proposed Fit-out and Security Hardening of New Leased Premises at 1120 Hay Street and 629 Murray Street, West Perth.
Proponent entities must notify the Committee of any changes to the project scope, time, cost, function or design. The Committee also requires that a post-implementation report be provided within three months of a project’s completion. A report template can be found on the Committee’s website.