Commonwealth Contracting Suite - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

The questions below offer CCS users quick answers to common questions we receive.

What is the Commonwealth Contracting Suite (CCS)?

The CCS is an online interactive suite of smart forms designed to assist procurement officials prepare procurement documentation for Commonwealth procurement valued under $1 million.

The CCS reflects Government policy to streamline business between the public and private sector and has standard terms and conditions to ensure consistency and ease of use.

Who must use the CCS?

The CCS is mandatory for use by non-corporate Commonwealth entities (NCE) for procurement under $200,000 except for specific circumstances as detailed in Resource Management Guide No. 420.

Corporate Commonwealth entities (CCE) are encouraged to use the CCS as appropriate.

What parts of the CCS are mandatory?

Under $200,000, where a formal approach to market is undertaken, it is mandatory for NCEs to use the CCS Approach to Market (ATM) (incorporating the Glossary, the Commonwealth ATM Terms and the Response to the ATM). Any resulting contract must be established using the CCS Commonwealth Contract (incorporating the Glossary and the Commonwealth Contract Terms).

Are the forms such as the Procurement Plan and Evaluation Report mandatory?

The additional forms are not mandatory for use. If your entity has templates which better suit your requirements you should use them. The additional forms have been provided primarily for those who don't have suitable templates.

Do I need to use the CCS for every procurement under $200,000 – even for $10,000?

The CCS is mandatory for use when you need to establish a formal contract when the value is less than $200,000. The value at which you should establish a formal contract, or require inclusion of the purchase order terms, should be based on the specifics of the procurement (not necessarily the value). The rules for when you need to establish a formal contract may also be covered your entity's Accountable Authority Instructions.

Where an informal approach to market is undertaken and purchase order terms are required, the Commonwealth Purchase Order Terms are available for use.

What is the Decision Tree and why do I need to use it?

The CCS Decision Tree lists relevant policies and processes in the correct order of precedence. It is an easy way to ensure you don't waste your time and effort and use the CCS appropriately.

As we update the Decision Tree whenever a change to policy occurs, you should run through the Decision Tree for each new procurement. This ensures you access the latest information when deciding whether the CCS, or another approach, is right for your procurement.

Can I use the CCS for procurements over $200,000?

The CCS has been designed for procurement up to $1 million, and is mandatory for procurement up to $200,000 (in line with RMG No. 420). Your internal procurement advice area is best placed to determine whether CCS is appropriate for use, or to provide an alternative contract template.

The decision to use the CCS over $1,000,000 is a business decision and should be based on the specifics of your procurement.

How do I access the CCS?

You can access the CCS on the Finance website

What should I do if I registered as a new user but didn 't receive an email?

Check for the email in your spam filter and junk mail then contact CCSDesk@finance.gov.au and request a password reset.

What should I do if I have registered and received an email, but now I can't login?

Try copying and pasting the password you received by email. You can also try resetting your password by following the link on the CCS login screen.

If you continue to have trouble contact CCSDesk@finance.gov.au

I have forgotten my password, what can I do?

You can reset your password from the CCS login screen.

If you continue to have trouble contact CCSDesk@finance.gov.au.

How do I change my password?

You can change your password by accessing your account settings.

Click the 'CHANGE PASSWORD' button and follow the prompts to set your new password.

For additional account security, you may consider enabling two-factor authentication.

See "How can I make my account more secure?" below for details.

How can I make my account more secure?

For additional account security you can enable two-factor authentication via your account settings here.

Complete the following steps to enable two-factor authentication:

  1. Install the verification application.
    1. On your device go to the marketplace.
    2. Search for Google Authenticator. (Android, iOS)
    3. Download and install the application.
  2. Configure Google Authenticator
    1. In Google Authenticator, select Scan a barcode.
    2. Use you phone's camera to scan the barcode generator via the account settings.

After activation of two-factor authentication, you will be asked to confirm your log in request via your device.

Where can I find a copy of the CCS terms?

The current versions of the Commonwealth ATM Terms, the Commonwealth Contract Terms, the Commonwealth Purchase Order Terms and the CCS Glossary can be found on the Finance website. The Glossary and the relevant terms will be attached to the word document upon generation.

Should you require a copy of previous version of the terms, including the Commonwealth General Conditions of Offer, the General Conditions of Contract and the General Purchase Order Conditions, contact CCSDesk@finance.gov.au.

Can I get a copy of the templates?

We do not maintain separate templates because the document you generate is specific to the information you enter and is based on a large number of variables.

Whenever a change to policy occurs, we make changes to the base document so we DO NOT recommend that you save templates off the system for later use.

Are there any user guides or information on how to use the CCS?

All the information you require is included on screen or in the question mark bubbles. We recommend you become familiar with the process by creating a test form.

If you are experiencing difficulty understanding the guidance then it is possible others are also experiencing similar difficulties. Any suggestions for improvement or additional information are welcomed and should be directed to CCSDesk@finance.gov.au.

How much information and detail is required in each section?

The information you enter into the online form will be used to populate the MS Word document. The information you enter into each section should be as detailed as you require in the final document.

Should you forget to include information when you are completing the online form you can add this after you have generated the MS Word document.

Do I need legal review and clearance of the CCS documents prior to release?

Unless your entity's AAIs specify, or the complexity of the procurement warrants, it is unnecessary to seek legal review/clearance when using the CCS.

It is useful to have a person (who has not been involved with the procurement) review the documents for obvious errors prior to release.

Do I need to use the CCS if I am doing an overseas procurement?

You are not required to use the CCS if you are contracting overseas with delivery overseas refer to Resource Management Guide No. 420.

Does the CCS incorporate Indigenous Procurement Policy reporting requirements?

The CCS does not incorporate IPP reporting requirements.

Data matching with the Supply Nation database is automatically undertaken for all Indigenous procurement with a value of over $10,000, reported on AusTender.

If your entity has decided to report other Indigenous procurement data e.g. Indigenous subcontractors, Indigenous businesses not registered with Supply Nation or Indigenous procurement valued at less than $10,000, data must be manually collected and reported.

Refer to your procurement advice area or the Indigenous Procurement Policy for information.

For all Indigenous procurement with a value of over $10,000, reporting is undertaken by AusTender. RMG No. 420

Are the CCS terms fair?

The CCS terms were developed in close consultation with the Office of the Australian Small Business Commissioner and with a wide range of Industry peak bodies. They were designed to be consistent with the Unfair Contract Terms Legislation and to be equitable to both parties.

What is the benefit for suppliers?

Suppliers tell us that receiving ATM documents in the same format regardless of the agency involved and being able to respond using a consistent Response document saves them considerable time and effort.

Suppliers also tell us that having the Terms written in plain and simple language makes it easy for them to understand their legal rights and responsibilities. Static terms reduces Supplier's overall legal costs as they don't need to seek legal advice for every procurement.

What is the benefit to Government?

The CCS has been designed to assist new users with all of the guidance built into the online form. As users become familiar with the process it takes less time to put together procurement documentation which frees up resources for more important tasks. A consistent response template for suppliers (part of the ATM) makes it easier to evaluate responses.

Can I negotiate the terms?

The Commonwealth ATM Terms and the Commonwealth Contract Terms are non-negotiable. By submitting a response, potential suppliers agree to form a contract under the Commonwealth Contract Terms if successful.

Can I include additional contract terms?

You can include additional terms by including them in the Approach to Market. If you wish to include any additional terms in the contract with the supplier, they must be included in the initial Approach to Market. We recommend that you use caution and seek legal advice when including additional contract terms to ensure the additional terms are not inconsistent with the standard terms or make the entire contract ambiguous, onerous or unworkable.

Should you realise after the ATM has closed that you have forgotten to include an additional contract term, you must approach all potential suppliers (who have submitted a response) and give them an opportunity to amend their response based on the new information.

Can I change the evaluation criteria?

The evaluation criteria set out in ATM Terms Clause A.B.5 are fixed and can't be changed. They are however very flexible and specifically designed to suit any procurement situation.

In evaluation of responses, do I rate the cheapest price as the best value?

No, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules note that achieving value for money (VFM) requires consideration of all financial and non-financial costs and benefits associated with procurement.

In forming a VFM decision it is important for you to have an idea of a fair price as the accepted quoted price should be neither too high nor too low (a low price may be a significant risk to successful delivery). The rating given for this criteria is based on the adequacy of the price to satisfy the requirement as well as the entity's cost of administering a contract with one supplier over another.

Where the price quoted would not be adequate to enable the Potential Supplier to satisfy the requirement the Potential Supplier would score one or two out of five (cheapest price cannot be VFM if it doesn't meet the requirement). In the latter case outlined above, if one supplier's bid is based on use of your facilities and another bid uses its own resource, any additional costs to your entity should be factored into your VFM assessment.

When should I include Mandatory Conditions of Participation?

Mandatory Conditions for Participation should only be included when you need to include something that is essential to outcome.  Where a Supplier’s Response does not comply with the Mandatory Conditions for Participation it must be excluded from any consideration and that supplier cannot be awarded the contract.

Examples:

  • When personnel must have Negative Vetting security clearance this maybe worth including as a mandatory condition as generally project planning will not allow the time required to obtain such a clearance.
  • It would be unwise to include (as a mandatory condition) that tenderers must include five years of audited financial statements as this would exclude a range of new (and potentially innovative) start-up businesses and also a range of business types who are not required to produce audited accounts.

Why doesn't the CCS have insurance as a standard?

The CCS requires Suppliers to maintain adequate insurances for the Contract and to provide the Customer with proof when reasonably requested.

Suppliers should determine the level of insurance which adequately covers their risk exposure.

If you identify a specific risk (which can only be mitigated by insurance) this should be included as an Additional Contract Term in the Approach to Market. Do not ask for a Certificate of Cover as you will not know from this whether your particular risk is actually covered or an exclusion from the cover. Instead, you need to request a letter from the Supplier's insurance company which shows the specific risk is covered by their policy and to what level.

In the past some procurement personnel have required Suppliers to obtain and maintain insurances, sometimes for years after the contract expired. This is both a risky and costly strategy - there are some issues that money can't fix. It is a better strategy to mitigate the risks so they don't occur.


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