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 procurement, subject to the accountable authority instructions and supporting departmental guidelines that complement the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

We engage consultants where we lack specialist expertise or when independent assessment, research or review is required. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the department’s 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 also enter into purchaser–provider arrangements with a range of government, industry and private sector agencies for services to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries.


In 2015–16, the department entered into 64 new consultancy contracts. Total actual expenditure of active consultancy contracts was $5 705 690.

Table 18 shows the number and value of consultancies with a value greater than $10 000 and total expenditure on consultancies for 2015–16 and the two previous years.

Table 18 Consultancies—number, value and total expenditure





Number of consultancies with a value greater than $10 000 let during the year




Total value of consultancies with a value greater than $10 000 let during the year

$7 497 390

$4 458 750

$3 835 413

Actual expenditure on new and ongoing consultancies during the year

$5 705 690

$3 146 584

$4 018 042

Procurement initiatives to support small business

The department supports small business participation in the Commonwealth procurement market. Small and medium enterprises and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.

We recognise the importance of ensuring small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website​.

Our procurement practices support small and medium enterprises by using:

  • the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements valued at under $200 000
  • small business engagement principles outlined in the government’s industry innovation and competitiveness agenda, such as communicating in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format
  • credit cards where possible for purchases under $10 000.

The department supports and has implemented the government's Indigenous Procurement Policy. This policy includes considering Indigenous suppliers first for all remote contracts, and all other contracts valued between $80 000 and $200 000.

Other contract information

The secretary did not exempt any contracts let during 2015–16 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 AusTender website tenders.gov.au.

Advertising and market research

Payments to advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations and media advertising organisations are set out in Table 19.

The department did not undertake any advertising campaigns in 2015–16.

Table 19 Advertising and market research for 2015–16



Expenditure a

Advertising agencies—creative head hours billed: 249

$220 000

Spinach Advertising

Creative services regarding the Australian fishing and seafood industries ($220 000)


Market research organisations

$380 000

Essence Communications

Concept testing and refinement services regarding the Australian fishing and seafood industries ($51 000)


Horizon Research

Developmental market research services regarding the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia ($134 000)


Instinct & Reason

Developmental market research services into social attitudes and understanding of biosecurity to support market access and plant health surveillance ($195 000)


Polling organisations



Direct mail organisations



Media advertising organisations—including recruitment and tender notices

$265 631


Purchase of the department’s non-campaign advertising nationwide
($227 195)


Recruitment ($29 706)


Tender notices ($8 730)



$865 631

a All figures are inclusive of GST.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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