For information on Panels, see Panels 101.
About the Panel
The Management Advisory Services Panel (the Panel) has been established to improve the quality, consistency and efficiency of the procurement of Management Advisory Services by Commonwealth entities (Agencies).
For the purposes of the Panel, Management Advisory Services is defined in the Head Agreement as:
“provision of professional, independent, expert 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 an Agency under the Panel must meet the definition of a consultancy as per Resource Management Guide No 423: Procurement Publishing and Reporting Obligations (RMG 423).”
Purpose of this User Guide
This Panel User Guide provides information to Agencies on how to access and use the Panel.
This User Guide must be read in conjunction with the relevant Commonwealth Frameworks and policies, as outlined in the Head Agreement. In the event of any inconsistency between the User Guide and the Head Agreement or the Deed of Participation, the terms of the Head Agreement will prevail. Clause 1 of the Head Agreement contains Definitions and interpretations of terms used in the User Guide.
Agencies may have additional internal procedures/operational guidelines that will need to be considered when undertaking a procurement. Officials are encouraged to consult internally within their Agency on any additional requirements.
Eligibility to use the Panel
As a coordinated procurement, use of the Panel is:
- mandatory for non-corporate Commonwealth entities (NCEs) that are subject to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act); and
- optional for corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs), Commonwealth companies (CCs) and any other Government Related Entity (GRE) authorised by the Department of Finance (Finance) to use the Panel.
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.
The PGPA Act Flipchart and List available on the Finance website identifies NCEs, CCEs and CCs.
Establishment of the Panel
The Panel has been established as a coordinated procurement, also referred to as a Whole of Australian Government (WoAG) arrangement.
The Panel is being established in three phases, with each phase conducted via a separate open approach to market.
The three procurement phases are aligned with the Panel Service Areas:
- Phase 1 – Financial Management Advisory Services;
- Phase 2 – Corporate Management Advisory Services; and
- Phase 3 – Commercial Management Advisory Services.
The Panel replaces all:
- Commonwealth Management Advisory Services related panels;
- Management Advisory Services related categories on existing panels; and
- non-panel approaches to procuring management advisory services.
Benefits of the Panel
The Panel provides a range of benefits, including:
- improved quality, consistency and efficiency of purchasing Management Advisory Services with standard terms and conditions and a Performance Management Framework;
- cost savings and efficiencies for Service Providers by reducing administration and tendering efforts;
- reduction in the time and effort for Agencies and for Service Providers to establish contracts;
- replacing multiple panel arrangements across Government with a single panel arrangement; and
- providing standardised rate structures for Agencies, noting that Service Providers’ rates can vary significantly across other panels for the same types of Services.
Finance will administer the Panel for the benefit of participating Agencies, including:
- managing the Head Agreements between Service Providers and Finance, on behalf of the Commonwealth;
- monitoring the Panel to implement efficiencies for the Commonwealth;
- hosting and maintaining the MAS Panel webpages on the Finance website which provides guidance and search functions for service offerings of Service Providers;
- overseeing a Performance Management Framework for Service Providers and addressing performance issues;
- providing internal reporting and strategic advice to support WoAG decision making, planning and delivery across the Commonwealth;
- reviewing and refreshing the Panel; and
- monitoring the Flexibility Framework.
Term of the Panel
The Panel commences on 12 July 2021 with Panel Service Areas added as each phase of the procurement is completed. 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.
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.
Finance will determine the process for refreshing the Panel during the Panel term. This may include adding or removing Service Subcategories.
Procurement phases and expected commencement dates are as follows:
Table 1 – Panel Phase Service Commencement Dates
12 July 2021
Transitioning to the new Panel
Once Management Advisory Services are available through the Panel it will be mandatory for NCEs to use the Panel for procurements, except for Services engaged under the Flexibility Framework.
Contracts entered into prior to the commencement of each phase 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 to opt-in to use the Panel
NCEs are able to manage Panel access for their staff through AusTender’s Dynamic Sourcing for Panels (DS4P).
Other entities such as CCEs, CCs and GBEs who wish to access the Panel and gain procurement efficiencies when sourcing Management Advisory Services, must first notify the MAS Panel Management team via email: MASPanel@finance.gov.au. The MAS Panel Management team will review your request to participate and provide you with further details including a Deed of Participation which establishes the conditions of participation for CCEs, CCs and GBEs. The Deed of Participation standardises the use of the Panel which is essential to maintain the integrity of the Panel and consistency for Service Providers.
Access will be granted once a duly approved and executed Deed of Participation is provided to Finance.
Panel Scope of Services
Services are provided under three Service Areas which are Financial, Corporate and Commercial.
The Services provided under the Panel are for Management Advisory Services, commonly known as consultancies.
Services procured by an Agency under the Panel must meet the definition of a consultancy as set out in Resource Management Guide No 423: Procurement Publishing and Reporting Obligations (RMG 423).
The Panel does not include the following non-consultancy services:
- contractor services performed under the supervision of an Agency, except where this is an Associated Output; or
- recruitment or labour hire services.
The Panel cannot be used to purchase services that fall outside the Scope of Services.
Agencies may issue a Request for Quotation or Order for Services at the Service Subcategory level. The Service descriptors provided under each Service Subcategory are a broad indication of the types of Services available under that Service Subcategory. These service descriptors are not intended to be definitive or exhaustive, and should be interpreted as a general guide as to the types of services under each Service Subcategory.
The Service Categories and Service Subcategories can be viewed on the MAS Panel website Scope of Services, Search Tool and in the Quick Guide – Scope of Services. For any questions regarding the scope of these services please contact the MAS Panel Management team by phone: (02) 6215 3399 or email: MASPanel@finance.gov.au
At an Agency’s discretion, the Services 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.
Services not in scope of the Panel
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.
The Panel will allow Agencies to purchase up to five per cent of their total expenditure per financial year on Management Advisory Services from Service Providers not on the Panel.
The objective of the allowance is to provide Agencies with additional flexibility to meet their specific business needs, and to provide opportunities for new market entrants, other specialist, niche consultancies, and other small to medium enterprises to provide services to the Government without being on the Panel.
Agencies are responsible for tracking their annual expenditure on off-panel consultancies to stay within the 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 AusTender reporting, annual reports and panel operational reporting provided to Finance from Service Providers.
Agencies must manage their own off-panel procurements, and comply with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs).
Purchasing Services from the Panel
Issuing a Request for Quote (RFQ)
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. The website provides a Search Tool to enable you to search suppliers by Service Category and Subcategory.
Agencies should consult with their internal procurement advisors as there may be Agency specific requirements in determining an approach to market. It is important to document the reasons underpinning the approach to market, including the number of quotes requested and how value for money will be determined. Competition is a key element of the Commonwealth Procurement Framework.
Agencies should use the RFQ Smart Form which provides a simple, streamlined and consistent approach to using the Panel.
Service Providers have been assessed at the organisational level but there is allowance in the RFQ Smart Form for Agencies to specify any particular skills, qualifications or professional recognition required for Personnel. Agencies may also request curriculum vitaes (CV’s) for Personnel.
Agencies can approach Service Providers to submit detailed quotes that are more competitive than the Panel rates or represent better value for money in terms of innovative pricing structures (such as through fixed prices).
When seeking quotations from Service Providers an Agency should have regard to the reasonable time frames required to prepare and submit a quotation.
When issuing an RFQ, Agencies can select whether or not a Service Provider can nominate Subcontractors to undertake any or all of the Services. When assessing a quotation that nominates subcontractors, the Fees cannot exceed the Service Provider’s fees in the Head Agreement.
Issuing an Order for Services
The Order for Services Smart Form should be used for procurements through the Panel to ensure the terms and conditions of the overarching arrangement apply to the individual procurements. The Smart Form provides a consistent structure to Orders under the Panel and prompts Agencies to use milestone payments as best practice. The Smart Form also delivers efficiencies for Service Providers in their engagement with Agencies.
Only templates developed for the Panel should be used. The Commonwealth Contracting Suite templates must not be used when ordering Services from the Panel as these templates may contain terms that differ from the Head Agreement.
Please consult with your Agency’s internal procurement advisers prior to issuing final documents to ensure you are acting in accordance with your Agency’s internal processes and that any approvals required have been obtained.
When an Agency issues an Order, a separate contract will be formed between the Service Provider and the Agency at the rates provided in the Head Agreement, unless a lower rate has been negotiated, or alternative pricing (e.g. fixed pricing) has been quoted and is stated in the Order for Services. Panel rates are available in DS4P.
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.
Smart Forms are hosted by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. Links to the RFQ and Order for Services Smart Forms are available within this User Guide, on the MAS Panel website, and in DS4P.
The Smart Forms can be partially completed and saved, at which point a code will be sent to you via email to enable you to access your partially completed form for up to five days.
Your Smart Form is only accessible by you as a saved document and it is not publicly available.
The Smart Form is fully downloadable as a partially or fully completed Microsoft Word document, which can then be further edited. This allows for internal Agency approval processes.
Once downloaded, all ‘smart’ functionality is lost and will only be able to be edited in Microsoft Word.
Value for money
Finance has conducted a value for money assessment of each Service Provider prior to their inclusion on the Panel, including:
- the extent to which the Service Provider demonstrated its capacity and capability to provide the offered Services;
- the extent to which the Service Provider demonstrated its relevant experience in the last 5 years;
- a comparative analysis of fees against other tenderers with consideration to their size and experience;
- benchmarking of the Service Providers’ rates against other similar current or previous panel arrangements;
- an assessment of risk;
- the level of compliance with Commonwealth legislation and policy; and
- the benefit the Service Provider provides to the Australian economy.
When requesting quotes, Agencies may negotiate lower fees or request alternative pricing arrangements (e.g. fixed price) with Service Providers, particularly for larger bodies of work.
Agencies should be aware that some Service Providers offer Order Value Discounts under the Head Agreement for larger bodies of work.
When requesting and assessing quotes, Agencies are still required to achieve value for money.
Setting up milestone payments or linking milestones to a payment schedule can be a practical way to actively manage a contract and achieve value for money. Milestones help to monitor time-dependent deliverables, and control payments associated with those deliverables. Milestones facilitate timely communication with suppliers and can help to manage the contract effectively. A payment schedule setting out each expected stage of delivery can be included under the ‘Fees’ item of the RFQ or Order for Services.
It is important that contracts are managed consistently and actively throughout their life in accordance with their terms. This will ensure that Service Provider performance is satisfactory, stakeholders are well informed, and all contract requirements are met thereby ensuring that the contract delivers the anticipated value for money.
Where a Service Provider sets out any charges that are additional to the Fees, the Agency must assess whether there is a reasonable basis for any such charges when evaluating the quotation and provide an explanation for the extra expenses under the Fees item of RFQ or Order for Services.
A Service Provider may not charge more than the Panel rate for the Personnel Classifications. Agencies’ internal procurement advisers will have access to Service Providers’ Panel rates to ensure compliance, these rates are also available on DS4P. If a Service Provider proposes a higher rate, the Agency should reject the rate and notify Finance via email: MASPanel@finance.gov.au or phone: (02) 6215 3399.
An Agency may accept ‘Expert Personnel’ in an Order, as defined in the Head Agreement. However there are no rates provided in the Head Agreement for Expert Personnel. Agencies must consider whether or not the fees proposed for Expert Personnel represent value for money.
Arrangements across multiple Service Categories
Agencies may procure work across multiple Service Subcategories with a single Service Provider. However, in such circumstances the Agency must ensure the Service Provider is listed against all the relevant Service 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, it will constitute a breach of the Head Agreement for that Service Provider.
When undertaking an RFQ or Order for Services that crosses multiple Service Categories or Subcategories, Agencies should select the Service Category and Subcategory that capture the majority of work that is to be undertaken by the Service Provider.
Until Phases two and three of the Panel are complete, those Service Categories and Subcategories will not be available under the Panel and must be sourced separately using an alternative procurement method, in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.
All NCEs and prescribed CCEs must comply with the Resource Management Guide 423 Procurement Publishing and Reporting Obligations 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.
Head Agreement Provisions
The Head Agreement is a standing offer between Finance and each Service Provider setting out the manner in which the Services can be procured from the Service Provider under the Panel, and in Schedules 2-4:
- the Service Subcategories that the Service Provider has been approved to provide; and
- the rates for each Personnel Classification under each approved Service Subcategory for the Services.
A single Head Agreement has been developed to apply to all Service Providers. 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.
The Order for Services Smart Form should be used as it ensures consistent application of the terms and conditions of the Head Agreement to individual procurements.
If the Order for Services Smart Form is not used, there is a higher risk of Service Provider breaching the Head Agreement which must be reported to Finance and can lead to the suspension of the Service Provider.
Legal advice should be obtained prior to making any changes in an Order for Service which may affect or contradict the provisions contained in the Head Agreement. Other than the specific clauses listed in section 20 below, no changes are permitted.
Agency Additional Requirements
The Order for Services Smart Form is designed so that, if necessary, Agencies may add Additional Requirements relating to Confidential Information, Agency Data Storage Requirements, Security, Conditions/Restrictions for Personal Information, Insurance or Agency Service Levels as allowed under the Head Agreement.
Any Additional Requirements cannot weaken the existing obligations of the Service Provider under the Head Agreement.
The “Additional Requirements” section in the Order for Services Smart Form contains the following specific Head Agreement clauses that may be varied:
- Internal Working Papers
- Intellectual Property
- Key Personnel Requirements
- Return of confidential information
- Service Provider’s termination right
- Termination for convenience costs in relation to Fees for Services calculated on a milestone basis.
Under the Head Agreement the Service Provider has undertaken, prior to the commencement of an Order and for the duration of an Order, to hold:
- professional indemnity insurance for an amount not less than AU$2 million per occurrence and AU$10 million in aggregate, unless specified otherwise in an Order;
- public liability insurance for an amount of not less than AU$10 million per occurrence, unless specified otherwise in an Order. An Order may also specify an aggregate limit on public liability insurance; and
- workers’ compensation insurance as required by law.
Agencies may request additional insurance requirements if necessary. The RFQ and Order for Services Smart Forms allow for additional requirements to be added. The Service Provider may also include the cost of obtaining any insurance, additional to the amounts stipulated in the Head Agreement, in their response to a Request for Quotation.
Invoicing and Acquittal
Panel Administration Fee
The Panel will be funded through a Panel Administration Fee (Panel Fee) to be levied quarterly on participating Agencies, unless the Materiality Threshold has not been met. The Panel Fee will cover Finance’s costs of administering the Panel, reviewing its effectiveness and refreshing the Panel as required.
The Panel Fee is set by Finance at a rate of 0.4 per cent of actual Agency expenditure.
Each Agency’s expenditure on Management Advisory Services will be reported by Service Providers on a quarterly basis. Agencies are not required to provide any expenditure reporting to Finance. An Acquittal Statement will be provided with the Panel Fee invoice to explain how the Fee was calculated.
Purchase Order for the Panel Fee
If your Agency has a mandatory requirement for invoices to include purchase order numbers, you must take reasonable steps to ensure that this is in place.
If this is relevant to your Agency, you should notify Finance of the purchase order number in advance of using the Panel via email: MASPanel@finance.gov.au.
Once the Agency has provided Finance with its purchase order number, this will be added to the invoice prior to it being issued to the Agency for payment.
The Head Agreement requires Service Providers to report to Finance on the value of invoices paid in each quarterly reporting period. This information is used to compile the Acquittal Statement provided to each Agency with their quarterly Panel Fee invoice.
The Acquittal Statement provides a breakdown of expenditure used to calculate the Panel Fee by purchase order number.
Where a Service Provider refunds any invoiced expenditure, and reports this to Finance, the Panel Fee will be adjusted accordingly in the following invoice period.
To further reduce the administrative effort for Finance and Agencies, a Materiality Threshold will be applied at $500 per quarter and $100 at the end of a financial year. The Panel Fee is generally not charged to an Agency where the Panel Fee calculated for that Agency is less than $500 in any quarter.
The value of expenditure will continue to accrue within that financial year and when the $500 threshold is met, an invoice will be issued.
At the end of the financial year any amount of $100 or over will be invoiced.
Machinery of Government impact on Panel Fee
Machinery of Government (MOG) changes will be considered on a case-by-case basis where the changes are material in proportion to the Panel Fee payable. Agencies will be asked to assist with attributing any Fees between the Agencies.
Performance Management Framework
The Service Levels and Minimum Expected Performance requirements are outlined in Table 1 of Schedule 7 of the Head Agreement and will apply from the Commencement Date. Only Service Level 3 (SL3) is relevant to Agencies’ performance reporting requirements, incorporating:
- Performance measures – 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; and
- Calculation method – Finance will determine the level of compliance with this Service Level by analysing Agency reports on the Service Provider’s performance against the Performance Management Framework using information provided in the Agency Satisfaction Survey.
Service Providers must maintain a high standard of quality and delivery of Services by its Personnel and Subcontractors, including compliance with all requirements of the Head Agreement and any additional requirements in an Order for Service. Under the Head Agreement the Service Providers acknowledge that:
- their performance will be measured against the performance measures in clause 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4 of Schedule 7 of the Head Agreement; and
- Agencies can provide reporting to Finance on the Service Provider’s performance via the Agency Satisfaction Survey.
The following Quality performance measures apply to the Head Agreement:
- capability and availability of Key Personnel;
- documentation provided to high standard; and
- Services provided met the Agency needs and requirements of the Order.
The following Communication performance measures apply to the Head Agreement:
- proactive and effective communication with the Agency;
- responsiveness; and
- Agency reference numbers included in all correspondence.
The following Contract Performance measures apply to the Head Agreement:
- understanding of the Agency’s needs;
- effective management of timelines;
- effective budget management;
- service provision managed diligently; and
- reasonable assistance provided in respect of any inquiry concerning the Service Provider’s performance of ordered Services.
Responsibilities of the Service Provider
The Service Provider will endeavour to meet or exceed the performance measures and Service Levels during the Head Agreement Period and will make all relevant Key Personnel and Subcontractors aware of the performance measures.
The Service Provider has agreed to meet the reporting requirements as set out in Schedule 8 of the Head Agreement.
Responsibilities of the Agency
All 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;
- take steps and work with the Service Provider to rectify an issue before reporting unsatisfactory performance to Finance; and
- report any unresolved performance issues to Finance via the Agency Satisfaction Survey.
Process for determining a Service Level Failure
If there is an occasion where the performance of a Service Provider is not satisfactory and the parties are unable to resolve the issue, it may constitute a Service Level Failure and must be reported to Finance using the Agency Satisfaction Survey.
Once a potential Service Level Failure has been reported, Finance will work with the Service Provider on the issues.
Service Provider Suspension
Finance reserves the right to, at any time during the Head Agreement Period, review the operation of the Panel and suspend or remove a Service Provider from the Panel for noncompliance with the Head Agreement.
If a Service Provider is suspended due to a Service Level Failure they will no longer be available for selection via DS4P or the MAS Panel website. Agencies must not issue an RFQ or an Order for Service to a Service Provider that has been suspended (until that suspension is lifted) or removed from the Panel.
Compliance with Procurement Policies and Legislation
Service Providers agree to comply with any applicable security requirements specified in the Protective Security Policy Framework (including those provisions relevant to Commonwealth contracted Service Providers), as required by an Agency in an Order for Service.
Agencies can specify additional security requirements in an Order for Service, for example, that Personnel working on the matter must have or obtain a national security clearance.
Confidential Information not to be disclosed
Agencies and Service Providers party to an Order for Service under the Head Agreement must not, without the prior written consent of the other party, disclose any Confidential Information of the other party to a third party. Agencies must ensure that all Confidential Information is used or disclosed in accordance with the confidentiality provisions in clause 22 of the Head Agreement.
Agencies should be aware of their responsibility to maintain confidentiality when working with secondees from a Service Provider or other contractors/consultants.
Indigenous Procurement Policy
Where RFQs or Orders for Services are valued at $7.5 million or more (GST inclusive), are delivered wholly in Australia and fall within specific industry sectors, the mandatory minimum requirements (MMR) may apply. See the MMR checklist at Table 1 of the Indigenous Procurement Policy.
Australian Industry Participation Framework
For Orders with a value of $20 million or more, the Australian Industry Participation National Framework may apply. Information is available on the Australian Industry Participation website and you can contact the relevant area on 02 6213 6404 or email email@example.com to discuss these requirements.
Black Economy Policy
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.
Other Relevant legislation, policies and guidance
Each Agency should work with their internal procurement advisors to obtain advice on compliance with other relevant legislation, policies and guidance that may apply to their specific procurement.
Ph: (02) 6215 3399