Who is the Panel User Guide for?
The Panel User Guide is a guide for Agencies using the Panel. It is a document that can be downloaded and referred to by anyone. It is also available in html and fully searchable on the MAS Panel website.
Is this a mandatory coordinated procurement?
Yes. As a coordinated procurement, in accordance with paragraph 4.12 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules 2020, the Panel is mandatory for use by non-corporate Commonwealth entities (NCEs) that are subject to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).
In the spirit of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, prescribed CCEs listed in section 30 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 are strongly encouraged to participate in the arrangement through a Deed of Participation.
Use of the Panel is optional for corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs) and Commonwealth companies (CCs), including Government Business Enterprises (GBEs). CCEs, CCs and GBEs will need to be authorised by the Department of Finance (Finance) to use the Panel.
Why is the Panel being established in phases, and when does each phase commence?
Due to the high volume of tenders expected, the procurement process is being completed in three phases. This will help to manage the risks associated with this large and complex procurement, and ensure services under the Panel are operational as quickly as possible.
Each phase is being conducted through a separate open approach to the market.
The anticipated dates for the procurement phases and commencement dates are as follows:
Phase 1 –
Financial Management Advisory Services
Services Commencement Date
12 July 2021
Phase 2 –
Corporate Management Advisory Services
Services Commencement Date
Phase 3 –
Commercial Management Advisory Services
Late October/November 2021
Services Commencement Date
Each RFT and any notices related to the procurement process will be published on AusTender under ATM ID FIN/007/20.
What Services are available under the MAS Panel?
When fully established, the MAS Panel will include Financial, Corporate and Commercial Management Advisory Services, commonly known as consultancies. The MAS Panel web pages provide an interactive Scope of Services, a printable pdf version and an interactive Search Tool where you can search by Service Category and Subcategory for Service Providers.
What is the term of the Panel and will it be refreshable?
All phases of the Panel will expire on 30 September 2025. Finance may, at its sole discretion, extend the Panel for a further period (or periods) of up to four years in total, which may be taken in whole or in part, and in any number or combination of time periods.
The Panel structure allows it to be refreshed during its term to allow new Service Providers to join and existing Service Providers to qualify for additional Service Categories that may be added over time. Following the commencement of all Service Areas under the Panel, a refresh process will be put in place and announced on the MAS Panel website as well as on AusTender. The timeframe for the refresh is still to be determined by Finance.
Approaches from industry to join the Panel will not be considered outside of a formal refresh process.
How to determine if the Services required are for a consultancy or contractor services?
The difference between consultants and contractors depends on the nature of the services and the level of direction and control over the work that is performed to develop the output.
The panel is for commonly used Management Advisory Services, commonly known as consultancies defined as:
“the provision of professional, independent advice, and other strategic services that involve the development of an intellectual output which represents the independent view of the Service Provider and assists with entity decision‑making.
Services procured by entities under the Panel must meet the definition of a consultancy as per Resource Management Guide No 423: Procurement Publishing and Reporting Obligations.” (RMG423)
Agencies should refer to the Contract Characteristics guidance in Appendix 2 of RMG 423 to determine whether the services they require are for a consultancy and would be in scope of the Panel.
The Scope of Services is broad, how do I select the right category?
The Panel’s broad scope of services has been carefully structured to:
- reflect the wide range of Management Advisory Services commonly used by Agencies;
- provide flexibility for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to offer specialised services, without being restrained by overly prescriptive Service Categories; and to
- allow Agencies to meet their diverse business needs by providing access to Service Providers that offer a diverse range of either broad or specialised services.
To identify potential suppliers from the Panel, an Agency can use the Search Tool to look for Service Providers at the Service Category level, particularly where the services required cover a range of the relevant Service Subcategories.
For more specific requirements, an Agency can use the Search Tool to look for Service Providers at the Service Subcategory level.
It should be noted that the Service descriptors (i.e. the dot points) under a Service Subcategory are examples of the types of services that could be commonly provided under the Service Subcategory and are not intended to be definitive or limiting.
Agencies must ensure they select the correct Subcategory of Services from the Service Provider. If a Service Provider accepts an Order for Services for a Subcategory of Services for which it is not listed under the Panel, it will constitute a breach of the Head Agreement by the Service Provider and must be reported to Finance.
Can Agencies seek Services across multiple Service Categories or Subcategories?
Yes. Agencies may procure work across multiple Service Categories or Subcategories with a single Service Provider.
In such circumstances the Agency must ensure they engage a Service Provider who is listed against all the Service Categories or Subcategories required by the Agency.
If a Service Provider responds to an RFQ or Order for a Service Category or Subcategory for which it is not listed under the Panel for that Service Category or Subcategory, it may constitute a breach of the Head Agreement.
When filling in a RFQ or Order for Services that crosses multiple Service Categories or Subcategories, Agencies should select the Service Category and Subcategory that captures the majority of work that is to be undertaken by the Service Provider.
Until Phases two and three of the Panel are in place, those Service Areas and Categories will not be available under the Panel and must be sourced separately.
Are there any services that are not in scope of the Panel?
Yes, the Scope of Services for the Panel is for commonly used Management Advisory Services, commonly known as consultancies.
The Services available under the Panel do not include:
- contractor (non-consultancy) services performed under the supervision of an Agency (except where this is an Associated Output identified prior to entering into a contract);
- recruitment or labour hire services;
- services available under other WoAG arrangements such as legal services;
- services that are unique to information and communication technology, and property consultancy services;
- environmental management and assessments;
- delivery of training;
- the engagement of an ‘eminent person’ or prominent individual appointed by an Agency to provide particular services; and
- specialist consultancy services that are unique to Agencies that are not provided through the Service Categories.
What evaluations were undertaken to establish the Panel?
The tender was conducted in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. This included a value for money assessment of all respondents on the basis of demonstrated capability, capacity, experience, pricing and compliance with other criteria outlined in the RFT. The Department of Finance was responsible for the procurement process.
What does being “on the Panel” mean?
“On the Panel” refers to the Service Providers who were selected for one or more Service Categories or Service Subcategories for which they were assessed to provide value for money.
Can any Management Advisory Services be procured outside the Panel?
The Flexibility Framework under the Panel allows Agencies to purchase up to five per cent of their annual total expenditure on Management Advisory Services covered by the Panel from Service Providers not on the Panel.
The objective of the Flexibility Framework is to provide Agencies with additional flexibility to meet their specific business needs, and to provide opportunities for new market entrants, and other specialist, niche consultancies to provide services to the Government without being on the Panel.
The Off-Panel allowance has been set at five per cent, based on an analysis of the value of Agency consultancy contracts reported on AusTender. At this stage the five per cent allowance is considered adequate for Agencies, while maintaining the integrity of the Panel.
Agencies are responsible to track annual expenditure on consultancies to manage the Off-Panel allowance. Finance will seek confirmation of compliance at the end of each financial year. In assessing compliance with the five per cent Off-Panel allowance, Finance will consider data sources such as Agency AusTender reporting, Agency annual reports and panel operational reporting provided to Finance from Service Providers.
My Agency has a current work order issued under pre-existing panel arrangements. Will this expenditure form part of our Off-Panel allowance?
Phase 1 of the Panel and its Flexibility Framework commenced on 12 July 2021 and applies only to engagements from that date. Continuing work for which an existing work order is in place under a pre-WoAG Panel arrangement is therefore not subject to the Flexibility Framework. Accordingly, such work orders, even if they continue past 12 July 2021, will not count towards your Agency’s Off-Panel allowance.
Can Agencies see the Head Agreement?
A single Head Agreement has been developed to apply to all Service Providers and is available on the MAS Panel website and in DS4P.
The only differences between agreements with Service Providers are:
- the contact details and address for notices;
- the Service Subcategories they have been approved to provide;
- the Service Provider’s rates; and
- any applicable Order Value Discounts.
All of this information can be found in AusTender’s Dynamic Sourcing for Panels (DS4P) site.
How will we know which Service Providers are on the Panel?
The MAS Panel website has a Search Tool allowing Agencies to view the Service Providers that are on the Panel, and identifies the Service Subcategories in which they were successful. The Service Providers are also listed on AusTender under SON3751667 and in DS4P.
Will the Panel be accessible through DS4P?
Yes, Panel documentation is available on DS4P, which also provides links to the RFQ and Order form Smart Forms.
What is DS4P?
Dynamic Sourcing for Panels (DS4P), is an AusTender functionality that provides government buyers with a standard and streamlined approach to sourcing their goods and services from panels.
Buyers can identify panels that match their requirements, search for and shortlist relevant suppliers, access panel documents and templates, and run Request for Quote processes.
For more information please see the Panels page of the AusTender website.
Will Service Providers’ rates be made public?
Service Providers’ rates will not be made public and will remain confidential. The rates will be available to Agency users of the Panel on a confidential basis through DS4P and Agency internal procurement areas.
Are the rates for Service Providers inclusive or exclusive of GST?
All rates listed are inclusive of GST where applicable.
Is there flexibility for agencies to obtain more favourable rates than the Panel rates?
Yes, Panel rates are maximum rates. An Agency may negotiate lower fees or innovative pricing arrangements with Service Providers where possible, particularly for larger bodies of work. Most suppliers have also provided order value discounts as part of their offering.
How are quotes obtained, and contracts placed under the Panel?
Relevant to the scale and scope of the procurement, Agencies may request any number of the Service Providers listed in the relevant Service Subcategory to submit a quote.
Agencies should consult with their internal procurement advisors as there may be Agency specific requirements in determining an approach to market.
Agencies should use the RFQ Smart Form which provides a simple, streamlined and consistent approach to using the Panel.
For more information see the Purchase Services web page.
Is there a Performance Management Framework for the Panel?
Yes. Service Providers must maintain a high standard of quality and delivery of Services by their Personnel and Subcontractors, including compliance with all requirements of the Head Agreement and any additional requirements in an Order.
The Performance Management Framework incorporates:
The Service Provider’s provision of Services must satisfy an Agency’s requirements as detailed in the Order for Service to the satisfaction of the Agency
Finance will determine the level of compliance with performance measures by analysing information provided by Agencies in the Agency Satisfaction Survey
For more information see Quick Guide – Performance Reporting.
What information will Service Providers report?
The Head Agreement requires Service Providers to provide quarterly reporting to Finance on the value of invoices paid in the reporting period by Service Category. This information is used to compile the Acquittal Statement provided to each Agency with their quarterly invoice.
How do I report contracts under the Panel on AusTender?
All NCEs and prescribed CCEs must comply with the Resource Management Guide 423 Procurement Publishing and Reporting Obligations (RMG 423) which sets out the publishing and reporting obligations under the Commonwealth Procurement Framework and other government policies.
Agencies are required to report, on AusTender, all contracts entered into under the Panel that are valued at or above the relevant reporting threshold in the CPRs. The contract details on AusTender must reflect the procurement method used to establish the standing offer and reference the relevant SON ID. When reporting an Order under the Panel on AusTender, remember to:
- link your Order to SON3751667 so that your contract is correctly reported as part of the WoAG Management Advisory Services arrangement;
- use the UNSPSC code for Management Advisory Services: 80100000;
- select the Procurement Method as “Open Tender”, regardless of the number of suppliers you approached (as the Panel was formulated through an open approach to market); and
- under Consultancy select “Yes” and select the most relevant Consultancy reason.
How will Agencies report on supplier performance issues?
Agencies can report any performance issues to Finance via the Agency Satisfaction Survey.
However, Agencies using the Panel have a responsibility to:
- engage with and ensure their own understanding of the Head Agreement;
- identify and manage any perceived or actual conflicts of interest;
- ensure understanding of the performance measures provided;
- not contribute to a perceived Service Provider performance failure; and
- take steps and work with the Service Provider to rectify an issue before reporting unsatisfactory performance to Finance.
Does my Agency have to pay to use the Panel?
Yes, similar to other WoAG arrangements, there is a Panel Administration Fee to recover costs associated with the establishment and ongoing management of the Panel. Finance will manage the Head Agreement with Service Providers on behalf of Agencies.
For a more detailed explanation of the fee, please see Quick Guide – Panel Administration Fee.
Is data security and consequences of a data breach covered in the Head Agreement?
Yes. Providers are required to comply with the Head Agreement requirements in relation to data security and data breach reporting. Service Providers must also comply with any data storage Additional Requirements specified by an Agency in an Order.
My Agency has an existing arrangement that may be impacted by the new MAS Panel. How do we maintain access to services?
To maintain the continuity of services, contracts entered into prior to the Services Commencement Date for a Panel phase may be completed. Existing contracts that contain Management Advisory Services, such as those which will be available under the Panel, may be extended until the commencement of the relevant phase of the Panel.
The Panel Scope of Services will expand as each phase of the procurement is completed, and Finance will notify Agencies of the Services Commencement Date for each phase.
Contracts entered into prior to each phase’s Services Commencement Date may be completed. However, no longer-term contracts, or contracts with multiple extension options should be entered into, in anticipation of the Panel Phase Service Commencement Dates.
How does the Indigenous Procurement Policy apply to the Panel?
The mandatory set aside component of the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) generally does not apply to Services procured under the Panel.
For procurements valued over $7.5 million, the Minimum Mandatory Requirements (MMRs) of the IPP will apply. For procurements over this threshold, Agencies must request an Indigenous Procurement Plan when seeking quotations.
Entities can use the Search Tool on the Website to identify Indigenous suppliers on the Panel. These suppliers will also be flagged in supplier lists.
Further information regarding the IPP is available on the NIAA website.
Does the Australian Industry Participation Policy apply to the Panel?
When preparing an RFQ or Order valued at $20 million or more, you should phone 02 6213 6404 or email email@example.com to discuss whether an Australian Industry Participation (AIP) Plan is required.
How does the Black Economy Policy apply to the Panel?
The Black Economy Policy applies to all procurements with a value over $4 million including GST under this Panel.
All Service Providers have supplied a Statement of Tax Record (STR) as part of the requirements in their tender response. Service Providers are required to hold a valid and satisfactory STR at all times during the Head Agreement period and provide a copy on request to Finance or an Agency.
Agencies are required to obtain and retain a current STR for each Order where the Black Economy Policy applies.
How does the Workplace Gender Equality Act apply to the Panel?
Finance has assessed the compliance with the Workplace Gender Equality Act at the time of establishing the Panel. Finance will continue to monitor the compliance of Panel suppliers during the term of the Head Agreement.
How do exemptions 6 and 16 of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules apply to the Panel?
As the Panel is being established as a coordinated procurement, these exemptions in Appendix A of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, relating to the procurement of research and development services, and the procurement of goods and services from Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) with at least 50 per cent Indigenous ownership, do not apply.
What is an Associated Output?
Services required under an Order may also include the delivery of a limited amount of contractor services, termed an ‘Associated Output ’.
The Head Agreement defines an Associated Output as:
‘the delivery of services that are (in the view of the Agency) consequential to and/or necessary for facilitating the Management Advisory Services required by the Agency in a Contract, and where these services are described in a Contract.’
Any Associated Output must be identified prior to entering into a contract. The Request for Quotation (RFQ) Smart Form calls for a detailed description of the Services required and any Associated Outputs in the ‘Detailed Statement of Work’ section.