Competitive tendering, consultants and purchasing
Competitive Tendering and Contracting
Market-testing Corporate Services
In November 1999 the Government decided that all its agencies must market test relevant activities and services, starting with corporate services. The main objective is to improve performance in service delivery.
As a first step in fulfilling the Governments policy, specialist skills were pooled by combining Divisional Support Units and the Corporate Division on 21 May. All Legal, Financial, Human Resources, Property and Office Services are now provided by the Business Group, and the Information Services Group is responsible for library, records management and IT management services.
An open request for tender (RFT) for legal services was issued on 29 June 2001. The RFT provides for involvement by regional legal firms. Other corporate services are scheduled for market testing later in 2001.
Remote Air Subsidy Scheme
In 2000–01 DOTARS had five contracts with air operators providing services to remote areas of Australia under the Remote Air Service Subsidy (RASS) scheme, with a total of $1 588 089 having been paid to RASS operators ($1.866 million was commissioned for RASS in 2000–01).
From 1 July 2000 to 31 December 2000 a total of $706 374 was paid to Airlines of South Australia, Chartair, Cape York Air, Air Mount Isa and Ord Air.
From 1 January 2001, new RASS operators were engaged following a competitive tender process. Hence from 1 January 2001 to 30 June 2001 a total of $881 715 was paid to Airlines of South Australia, Chartair, Cape York Air, West Wing Aviation and Golden Eagle Airlines.
The selection and engagement of consultants is based on obtaining competitive public or restricted offers through open and effective competition, observing accountability requirements and achieving value for money.
During 2000–01, the Departments total expenditure on consultancy services was $10.7 million for 158 consultancy services contracts, some of which were let in previous financial years. A list summarising all consultancy contracts let to the value of $10 000 or more, including the consultants name, task, contract price, selection process and reason for engagement can be found at Appendix B. All amounts have been rounded to the nearest dollar. Consultancies costing less than $10 000 were excluded.
The Departments purchasing practices and procedures are consistent with Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines, and are pragmatic to help achieve program objectives efficiently.
General purchasing is fully devolved to Divisions, and acquisitions and expenditure are monitored at divisional level to ensure program objectives are met. DOTARS encourages the participation of small to medium Australian and New Zealand enterprises in its purchasing activities.
DOTARS has developed a Strategic Asset Management Plan which is consistent with the Australian National Audit Offices Asset Management Handbook, and provides the fundamentals for the ongoing management of assets.
The Strategic Asset Management Plan provides a detailed analysis of planned expenditures on assets in Australias non-self-governing Territories and in particular for the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. This plan is being reviewed on an annual basis.
The management of assets is devolved to Divisions, which monitor capital and recurrent maintenance expenditures to ensure they are aligned with program objectives.
The Asset Management Strategy includes new asset accounting policies approved by the Executive Board within the year. The policies included an increase in the asset recognition threshold from $2 000 to $5 000, a change taken in consultation with the Australian National Audit Office.
Territories Asset Management
The total book value of the Departments assets located in the non-self-governing Territories of Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Jervis Bay Territory is around $190 million. Of these assets, $160 million are located in the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. There are also administered assets on Norfolk Island with a value of $15 million.
The Territories and Regional Support Division finalised a five-year strategic asset management plan as part of the overall departmental asset management planning process. The plan applies strategic asset management planning principles to all Territories assets. The planning process for the Indian Ocean Territories was based around the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
Almost $22.5 million was spent on capital works in the Territories. This expenditure included around $14 million on Christmas Island, around $8 million on Cocos (Keeling) Islands and $0.5 million on Norfolk Island. This was in line with the 1999 Commonwealth Grants Commission Report on the level of expenditure required to provide the Indian Ocean Territories with infrastructure that is aligned with that in comparable communities on the mainland.
Some of the major projects that have been completed on Christmas Island include the 44 single persons units at Poon Saan, Smith Point Road reconstruction, Police Station upgrade and demolition of four blocks of units in the Kampong as part of the Rockfall Risk Reduction Strategy. Work is under way on the wharf upgrade, the continuation of the rockfall barrier fencing at Flying Fish Cove and the final stage of public housing units in the Kampong and Taman Sweetland is nearing completion.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Major projects which have commenced on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands include the Waste Water and Sewage Treatment Plants for Home and West Islands and the continuation of the sea wall on West Island to protect the foreshore and residential buildings.
During August 2000, Cocos (Keeling) Islands experienced a major fire in the power station on Home Island. The fire completely destroyed the building and the power generator sets. Since that time power has been provided to the Home Island community by two hired 375-kW stand-by generator sets.
The temporary power supply has adequate capacity to meet the current Home Island demand; however, there is little capacity to meet any increased demand. DOTARS, in consultation with all stakeholders, is currently looking at options to replace the burnt-out power station on a permanent basis.
Environmental and feasibility studies have been completed on the Rumah Baru freight and passenger facility on Cocos (Keeling) Islands. This project will provide a safe, efficient and all-weather port and offloading facility to the community. The project was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works by motion in Parliament on 5 April 2001. A public hearing on the Islands was held by the Committee in early July 2001.
Jervis Bay Territory
In the Jervis Bay Territory an upgrade of the sewage treatment plant was completed. The plant now meets occupational health and safety standards. Major maintenance was carried out on the water supply reservoirs. Modifications were also carried out to the water treatment control system to prevent partially treated water from entering the system in the event of a fault occurring.
DOTARS provided $469 000 in 2000–01 for ongoing restoration of items of heritage significance in the Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area. The KAVHA Management Board, of which DOTARS is a member, oversees this restoration. We also provided $70 000 for an ongoing program of restoration for Norfolk Island Government House, the residence of the Administrator.