26 September 2023

New purchasing rules for COVID-19

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The Department of Finance has unveiled new arrangements for procurement and contracting to support Australian businesses providing goods and services to Government.

According to the Minister for Finance, Senator Mathias Cormann, the COVID-19 disruption has had an adverse effect on the supply of equipment, materials and services required to carry out normal business processes for the Government.

“Despite the significant impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy, the Australian Government remains a strong purchaser of goods and services,” Senator Cormann said.

He said his Department had released a Policy Note to assist entities considering procurements or addressing contractual matters with affected suppliers.

“It is likely that many suppliers will struggle to meet their contractual obligations with Commonwealth entities and this may put their financial viability, ability to retain staff and their supply chains at risk,” Senator Cormann said.

“Many suppliers may not be able to fulfil their contracts due to action taken elsewhere in the public sector.

“We expect entities to support suppliers at risk where possible.”

He said Agencies preparing to approach the market should consider factors including how COVID-19 might impact plans in the immediate future; appropriate timelines depending on the nature of the market; the amount of time potential suppliers required to put in submissions; the potential to structure procurements into achievable deliverables; and advancing procurements that were less reliant on substantial material supply.

Entities might wish to engage with the market (such as through a Request for Information on AusTender) to understand capability before formally approaching the market, Senator Cormann said.

“Regardless of the procurement process, entities still need to satisfy themselves that value for money is being achieved,” he said.

“Appropriate records should also be maintained, including relevant approvals and decisions.

“Contract managers are expected to maintain their relationships with suppliers and to manage any specific issues arising as a result of COVID-19 in a collaborative and sensible manner.”

The Department’s 3-page Procurement Policy Note can be accessed at this PS News link.

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