Publication of federal government procurement data

Expand open contracting and due diligence in procurement: Australia will publish federal government procurement data using the Open Contracting Data Standard schema and review existing procurement due diligence processes.

Completion Status:
Partially fulfilled

Commitment filtering:

Specific:yes

This commitment is specific. The Open Contracting Data Standard[1] is well known and widely implemented, and a commitment to implement the Open Contracting Data Standard therefore moves Australia towards achieving a recognised international standard in the area of public procurement transparency. The commitment to publishing federal government procurement data using the standard also makes this commitment specific. Further, in its Second Open Government Action Plan (2018-2021, commitment 8), which is where this commitment was made, Australia committed to reviewing procurement due diligence processes and to report on the outcome of the review.[2]

[1] Open Contracting Partnership, Open Contracting Data Standard, https://standard.open-contracting.org/latest/en/

[2] Australia’s Second Open Government National Action Plan 2018-20, https://ogpau.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/australias-second-open-government-nap-2018-20.pdf

Measurable:yes

This commitment is measurable since it commits Australia to publishing federal government procurement data using the Open Contracting Data Standard, which Australia did not do at the time the commitment was made, and to reviewing existing procurement due diligence processes and to publishing the outcome of that review. Undertaking these actions will move Australia forward in terms of expanding open contracting in Australia.



Last updated: 30 January 2022
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Evaluation:

In January 2019, the Department of Finance updated the Australian government’s procurement and contracting portal, AusTender, to include the publication of data in the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS).1 A new programming interface also allowed other applications to interact with the database, making it easier for stakeholders to access and use the data.

The Department of Finance also completed a review in 2020 of due diligence processes in government procurement. However, for unknown reasons, this review has not been published, although a summary of the review was presented to the Open Government Partnership multi-stakeholder forum.2 Because the review was not published, which is contrary to the original commitment, this commitment is considered only partially fulfilled. The Department of Finance told the multi-stakeholder forum that there is no “one size fits all” approach to due diligence across the Commonwealth and that different government entities approach due diligence in various ways, depending on the size, scope and risk of the procurement, and the type of goods or services being procured. It was also reported that some government entities have developed due diligence requirements. Further, it was reported to the multi-stakeholder forum that, based on findings from the review, the Department of Finance will develop due diligence guidance to assist officials in meeting their accountability and transparency obligations and help agencies achieve value for money in their procurements, and that the department will continue to encourage collaboration and discussion on due diligence in procurement between Commonwealth entities through various forums, such as outreach sessions with senior procurement officials across the Commonwealth and through Finance’s Community of Practice. It is not clear if or how these recommendations have been acted on.2 Finally, government procurement rules, published in December 2020, do not cover due diligence.3

 

Challenges to effective commitment implementation
Civil society members of the multi-stakeholder forum have expressed frustration that the due diligence presentation to the forum “was not sufficiently detailed for it to meet the commitment’s original aim of publishing the outcome of the review”.4 Further, not publishing the review is contrary to the values of the Open Government Partnership, which includes a commitment to transparency. The December 2020 update to government procurement rules was a potential missed opportunity to strengthen due diligence requirements.

 

Recommendations

More work could be done to strengthen and make public anti-corruption due diligence processes in Australian government procurement rules. The Open Government Partnership multi-stakeholder forum is useful for the Department of Finance to seek feedback on strengthened rules, which it told the multi-stakeholder forum it would do.5 The original review of due diligence processes should also be published to inform the development of strengthened and consistent due diligence processes across all of government.

Sources:
  1. Open Contracting Partnership, What Does Australia’s Open Contracting Data Look Like? 11 February 2020, https://www.open-contracting.org/2020/02/11/what-does-australias-open-contracting-data-look-like/
    30 Dec 2021
  2. Open Government Partnership Australia, Open Government Forum Meeting, 8 October 2020, https://ogpau.pmc.gov.au/open-government-forum/meetings/open-government-forum-meeting-8-october-2020
    30 Dec 2021
  3. Australian Government, Department of Finance, Commonwealth Procurement Rules, December 2020, https://www.finance.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-12/Commonwealth%20Procurement%20Rules%20-%2014%20December%202020.pdf
    30 Dec 2021
  4. Open Government Partnership Australia, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Australia Transitional Results Report 2018–2020, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Australia_Transitional-Results-Report_2018-2020.pdf
    30 Dec 2021
  5. Open Government Partnership Australia, Open Government Forum Meeting, 8 October 2020, https://ogpau.pmc.gov.au/open-government-forum/meetings/open-government-forum-meeting-8-october-2020
    30 Dec 2021

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