External service providers

​​​Our procurement practices reflect the policies and principles outlined in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. We focus on:

  • value for money
  • encouraging competition
  • efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of Government resources
  • accountability and transparency
  • compliance with Australian Government policies.

Our divisions are responsible for their own purchasing, subject to the Chief Executive Instructions and supporting departmental guidelines that complement the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

The Procurement and Grants Policy team provides advice to divisions on their procurement activities. It maintains a suite of procurement templates and provides training and contract management advice. The team also partners with divisions to conduct significant tenders.

We engage consultants where we lack specialist expertise or when we require independent research, review or assessment. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem, carry out defined reviews or evaluations, or to provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist with decision-making.

Before engaging consultants, we take into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise.

We enter into purchaser-provider arrangements with government, industry and private sector agencies for scientific and economic research services to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia's agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.


Managing our consultants

In 2013-14, the department entered into 50 new consultancy contracts, involving total actual expenditure of $2 838 150. In addition, 18 ongoing consultancy contracts were active, with total actual expenditure of $1 179 892.

Table 29 shows the number and value of consultancies with a value greater than $10 000 and total expenditure on consultancies for 2013-14 and the two previous years.

Table 29 Consultancies–number, value and total expenditure
Number of consultancies with a value greater than $10 000 let during the year507688
Total value of consultancies with a value greater than $10 000 let during the year$3 835 413$4 515 195$7 869 845
Actual expenditure on new and ongoing consultancies during the year$4 018 042$4 822 235$7 982 739

Managing our purchases

We implemented a new expense management system to support the whole-of-government travel provider arrangements and to streamline our purchasing, payment and acquittal processes.

Significant procurement activities conducted in 2013–14 included:

  • establishing a panel of laboratories to conduct analytical tests on Australian raw food produce for the National Residue Survey
  • establishing a standing offer for property portfolio advisory services and
  • providing secure offsite storage of records and associated records management services.


Coordinating our procurement

The department needs to access diverse goods and services in many different locations for specialist and often unique local requirements. We have faced a challenge to ensure a consistent procurement approach throughout the department, including its regions.

We are addressing these issues through centralised support, training and clear instructional material to complement the Commonwealth's Procurement Framework. We have also developed an annual procurement plan, which looks at strategic and more significant procurement activities nationally.

Other contract information

The secretary did not exempt any contracts let during 2013–14 from being published on AusTender on the basis that publication would disclose exempt matters under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

All contracts valued at $100 000 or more (GST inclusive) let during the year provided for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor's premises.

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

Purchaser-provider arrangements

Delivering the Farm Household Allowance

The Department of Human Services (DHS) delivers the Interim Farm Household Allowance on behalf of the Department of Agriculture. From 1 July 2014, it will also deliver the Farm Household Allowance. The bilateral arrangement is managed through a head agreement and services schedules that detail the requirements and service standards for the DHS services.

Advertising and market research

Payments of more than $12 400 (including GST) to advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations are set out in Table 30.

The department did not undertake any advertising campaigns in 2013–14.

Table 30 Advertising and market research in 2013-14
OrganisationDescriptionExpenditure a
Advertising agencies–creative head hours billed
Market research organisations
Polling organisations
Direct mail organisations
Media advertising organisations–including recruitment and tender notices$218 918.49
AdCorpPurchase of the department's non-campaign and
recruitment advertising nationwide ($170 607.09)
APS GazetteRecruitment advertising ($48 311.40)
Total$218 918.49

a All figures are inclusive of GST

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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