New Commonwealth Procurement Rules

Author: 
John Sheridan - FAS Technology & Procurement

New Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) came into effect on 1 March 2017. The CPRs are the basic rule set for all Commonwealth procurements and govern the way in which departments and agencies undertake their own processes.

The government announced updates to the CPRs in November 2016. In addition to these, a small number of minor changes have also been made to improve clarity of language and presentation.

A table detailing all amendments has been prepared to assist departments and agencies in understanding the updates.

Guidance on the new rules in the CPRs has also been developed and is available on the Finance website here

The new CPRs apply to new procurements which approach the market on or after 1 March 2017.

Regards

John

Comments (6)

Regrettably, the treatment of Standards in procurement both in the CPRs and in guidance is muddled and misleading.

Furthermore, it does not comply with the obligations that Australia accepted in the FTA with the US, which provides that “… a procuring entity: shall base the technical specifications on relevant international standards, where such exist and are applicable to the procuring entity, except where the use of an international standard would fail to meet the procuring entity’s program requirements or would impose greater burdens than the use of a recognised national standard.”

The guidance reads as if the authors were ignorant of JAS-ANZ and its role in accrediting independent certification and inspection bodies. It also proposes transferring to the tax-payer the costs of independent auditing or inspections that, where justified, should properly be the responsibility of tenderers/suppliers.

Hi Mr Citizen,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the feedback.

The updated Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) include two new clauses that highlight common best practice for applying and monitoring standards. A definition for Standards has also been added and includes an indicative list of recognised standards bodies. The new clauses focus on procurements that involve Australian standards.  However, procuring entities must continue to determine the relevant standards for a procurement in accordance with paragraph 10.9.c. of the CPRs, which states:

 In prescribing specifications for goods and services, a relevant entity must: … base technical specifications on international standards, when they exist and apply to the relevant procurement, except when the use of international standards would fail to meet the relevant entity’s requirements or would impose greater burdens than the use of recognised Australian standards.

I think this clause reflects that in the FTA faithfully. 

With respect to periodic auditing by an independent assessor, the guidance notes that this may be organised by either the supplier or the procuring entity. The guidance also reflects that procuring entities will need to consider the cost of this auditing in preparing their procurement, as it will be a cost to the entity either directly or through inclusion in the overall contract price.  

 A Parliamentary Joint Select Committee has been established to inquire into and report on the Commonwealth procurement framework and consider the new clauses in the CPRs.  You may wish to make a submission to the Committee with your views on the new clauses.  Further information on the Committee is available here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Government_Procurement/CommProcurementFramework.

I trust this makes the situation clearer. I'd welcome further feedback if you have it.

Regards,

John

I think I can see John Citizen's point about the CPRs and guidance being 'muddled and misleading'.

John - in your response, you quote paragraph 10.9.c of the CPRs:

"In prescribing specifications for goods and services, a relevant entity must: … base technical specifications on international standards, when they exist and apply to the relevant procurement, except when the use of international standards would fail to meet the relevant entity’s requirements or would impose greater burdens than the use of recognised Australian standards."

But the guidance and CPRs para 10.37 state:

"10.37 Where applying a standard (Australian, or in its absence, international) for goods or services, relevant entities must make reasonable enquiries to determine compliance with that standard:"

My confusion come from reading the words in brackets ... Australian, or in its absence, international. But 10.9c states the reverse i.e. "... must base technical specifications on international standards ..."

Or I am not understanding this properly?

Hi Joe, 

Thanks for your comment.  

Paragraph 10.9.c of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) contains the rules for deciding which standard will apply to a procurement process. Paragraph 10.37 does not impact that decision process. Instead, it states the contract management responsibilities for entities where a standard does apply to a procurement.  

The updated CPRs include additional requirements for procurements for which an Australian standard applies. Paragraph 10.10 states: “Where an Australian standard is applicable for goods or services being procured, tender responses must demonstrate the capability to meet the Australian standard, and contracts must contain evidence of the applicable standards (see paragraph 10.37)”

The language in the brackets of Paragraph 10.3.7 is to clarify that the contract management requirement applies to all procurements that involve a standard, not just those involving an Australian standard.  If read in isolation from the other paragraphs covering standards, I can appreciate why it might be confusing.

As an aside, advice from Standards Australia is that properly constituted international standards rarely differ from Australian standards. This is why we have used that terminology. this differentiates such standards from those of other countries.

You may wish to consider making a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee inquiry with your views on the updated CPRs. Further information on the Committee is available here:  http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Government_Procurement/CommProcurementFramework.

I hope this information is useful. Please let me know if you have any further feedback.

 Regards,

 John

Hi John

Does it mean now all the government ICT procurement must include the accessibility technical requirements according to the new standard released late last year as a mandatory criteria?
https://infostore.saiglobal.com/preview/as/as300/en.301549-2016.pdf?sku=...

Thanks for your question.

I have previously blogged about the ICT accessibility standard, noting that once the standard was adopted, new ICT procurements should apply the requirements in accordance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules (paragraph 10.9.c). The new guidance referenced in the blog provides further information on the application of standards at a general level.

Having said that, it’s worth noting that the Commonwealth Procurement Rules do not mandate the use of any specific standards as compliance with Australian Standards is normally voluntary, unless the goods or services are subject to regulation by government.

You may be aware that the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has responsibility for ICT procurement policy and will be able to advise on any updates related to ICT requirements in government procurement. If you have any ICT policy questions I suggest you contact DTA (refer: www.dta.gov.au/contact/ ).

Regards

John

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Last updated: 02 March 2017