The Department of Finance is to introduce a new whole-of-government panel for consultancy services as part of a wider streamlining exercise across its procurement and expenditure.
Announced as part of the 2020-21 Budget, the new panel will be mandatory for non-corporate agencies and aims to “provide a consistent framework” across the Commonwealth and reduce the number of tenders.
Starting in July 2021, the panel will aim to “increase transparency through improved data and reporting”, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s Budget said.
According to Budget documents, the panel will be rolled out to other corporate and commercial services by mid-2022.
“The panel will leverage the Commonwealth’s collective buying power, to ensure best value when it engages with businesses to draw on their expertise and strategic advice,” the Budget document read.
The move comes after the government introduced new rules to require reporting on the total spend on contracts and consultancies from the 2020-21 year onwards, as well as to report the amount spent on the largest such contracts.
In August, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) asked the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to ensure its officials brush up on federal procurement requirements after a review of IT panel arrangements.
The recommendation came after the ANAO examined three procurement arrangements, the DTA’s Digital Marketplace panel and its $1 billion-plus IBM Whole-of-Australian Government Arrangement.
According to the ANAO’s report, the “DTA could not fully demonstrate that the arrangements supported the achievement of value for money outcomes”.
The report also noted that, during the course of the audit, the ANAO was advised by the Department of Finance of allegations of fraud related to the supply of information technology contractors. At the time of the report's publishing on 31 August, investigations were ongoing.