Accountability to the Senate in relation to government contracts (Murray motion)
Terms of reference
On Wednesday, 12 April 2000 the following matter was referred by the Senate to the Finance
and Public Administration References Committee for inquiry and report by 26 June 2000:
‘The mechanism contained in general business notice of motion no. 489, standing in
the name of Senator Murray, providing for accountability to the Senate in relation to
General business notice of motion 489 reads:
(1) There be laid on the table, by each minister in the Senate, in respect of each
department or agency administered by that minister, or by a minister in the House of
Representatives represented by that minister, by not later than the tenth day of the
spring and autumn sittings, a letter of advice that an indexed list of contracts in
accordance with paragraph (2) has been placed on the Internet, with access to the list
through the department’s or agency’s home page.
(2) The indexed list of contracts referred to in paragraph (1) indicate:
(a) each contract entered into by the department or agency which has not been fully
performed or which has been entered into during the previous 12 months, and which provides
for a consideration to the value of $100 000 or more;
(b) the contractor and the matters covered by each such contract; and
(c) whether each such contract contains provisions requiring the parties to maintain
confidentiality of any of its provisions, or whether any provisions of the contract are
regarded by a party as confidential, and a statement of the reasons for confidentiality.
(3) In respect of each contract identified as containing provisions of the kind
referred to in paragraph (2)(c), there be laid on the table by the Auditor-General, within
6 months after the relevant letter of advice is tabled, a report indicating whether, in
the opinion of the Auditor-General, the claim of confidentiality in respect of that
contract is appropriate.
(4) In this order:
"autumn sittings" means the period of sittings of the Senate first
commencing on a day after 1 January in any year;
"indexed" means indexed alphabetically for subject matter of contract and
"spring sittings" means the period of sittings of the Senate first
commencing on a day after 31 July in any year.
The committee sought submissions on the broad question of accountability in relation to
government contracts and on the specific mechanism proposed by Senator Murray to enhance
such accountability. It also held a public hearing in Canberra on Friday 12 May 2000
before tabling its first report on this reference. It proposes to report again following
the tabling of an Australian National Audit Office report on the use of confidentiality
provisions in government contracts. Further submissions would be welcomed until that time.