Tough rules loom for Government IT procurement

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Tough rules loom for Government IT procurement
Parliament House

Sanctions on the table.

A joint parliamentary committee has recommended mandatory testing of all Australian Public Service officers with the authority to make purchases above $10,000 in a bid to ensure the Government gets value for money from procurement.

The Joint Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Audit (JSCPAA) also urged the Department of Finance to ramp up supervision over agency procurement and report back to the committee by the end of the year.

It called on the Department to explore whole-of-government templates and checklists to standardise procurement across the Australian Public Service.

The findings came on the back of an Audit Office report on four Federal agencies that found almost one in two of all procurements were closed, raising questions about whether the Government had obtained value for money.

ITnews has previously reported on similar Government IT procurement practices.

The JSCPAA noted that Government procurement decisions had error rates of up to 28 percent.

In some cases, buying processes were "undocumented" and should be viewed with high levels of suspicion, the committee stated.

The committee adopted a mantra of ‘If it’s not documented, it’s not done', hence value for money was unlikely to have been achieved in these instances.

“The committee was particularly concerned to see the high level of direct source procurement instead of more competitive procurement options; the insufficient governance mechanisms; the lack of documentation and the possibility that value for money is not always being achieved," it noted in a report released today.

"If these results are indicative of procurement practices in the wider APS, the committee finds this even more worrying.”

Sanctions for non-compliance with the procurement rules appeared to be on the table.

“The committee would have liked to have seen more evidence of a compliance structure. If this does not exist, the committee would encourage agencies to develop such a structure to ensure that  non-compliance is taken seriously and is adequately addressed," it stated.

The Department of Finance was due to issue new rules or guidelines on Government procurement this week.

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