Digital Sourcing Fair Criteria Policy consultation paper

The contents of this page relate to the Digital Sourcing Fair Criteria Policy consultation paper and development of the Digital Sourcing Fair Criteria Policy. Consultation has now closed. You can now access the Digital Sourcing Fair Criteria Policy, which takes effect on 1 July 2019.

Why we’ve done user research

The Australian Government’s ICT Procurement Taskforce Report​ recommended the government help industry sellers to compete fairly.

To find out how to do this, a team of 7 procurement experts from 6 government agencies took part in a 4-week discovery and alpha exemplar. This process was aligned with the DTA’s Service Design and Delivery Process.

What we did

We sought feedback on a series of draft recommendations that seek to increase fairness in digital sourcing across government agencies.

We brought together sourcing experts from across government to develop, prototype and test these draft recommendations.

The team spoke to 70 people, including 48 from industry, through face-to-face user research sessions and workshops to help understand user needs.

The result of this work is 5 draft recommendations that cover behaviour and cultural change, as well as user needs and preferences.

The draft recommendations aim to make digital sourcing more consistent, more efficient, and easier across all government agencies.

Foundations for fairness

The 4 week discovery and alpha exemplar found that there are currently a number of legislated Rules and Acts, and supporting policies that aim to achieve fairness in procurement.

In the context of government procurement, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules specify in paragraph 5.3 that;

The Australian Government’s procurement framework is non-discriminatory. All potential suppliers to government must, subject to these CPRs, be treated equitably based on their commercial, legal, technical and financial abilities and not be discriminated against due to their size, degree of foreign affiliation or ownership, location, or the origin of their goods and services.

In addition to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Indigenous Procurement Policy include components or measures to achieve fairness.

Why increasing fairness is important

Increased fairness means equal access to opportunities for more industry sellers, regardless of their size or previous experience with government buyers. Increased fairness also results in more effective competition and better value for money in government digital sourcing.

Fairness is closely related to the notion of effective competition in government digital sourcing. An ideal state of fairness would mean equal access to opportunities for all industry sellers, regardless of their size.

What we found

Both sellers to government, and government buyers highlighted 4 key areas of concern:

  • Ease of access — some sellers believed that those who already hold contracts with government may benefit from insights others suppliers would not.
  • Prescriptive requirements — government requirements are often overly prescriptive which could stifle the breadth of ideas and solutions being presented.
  • Better feedback — government agencies did not always provide sufficient feedback for businesses to help improve their offering the next time they pitch to government.
  • Streamlined procurement — sellers indicated the cost of doing business with government, lengthy procurement processes, complex contracts and panel arrangements being not clearly understood as burdens. This was the case particularly for smaller sellers.

Draft recommendations to create a more level playing field

We have taken on board the feedback from this research and believe there are ways that by improving fairness government can play a key role in growing Australian digital businesses.

At the same time it can help deliver high-quality public outcomes that are good value for money.  We want to help make these changes so that sellers of all sizes can compete for digital sourcing contracts across government.

The 5 draft recommendations for government agencies are:

  1. Explore ways to improve the imbalance between sellers who already have access and new players in being able to showcase what they have to offer.
  2. Provide guidance on better government requirements and documentation methods. This includes identifying more ways for government to develop outcomes-focused requirements.
  3. Refresh and improve training for sourcing staff. This would include a clear focus on how to provide better feedback to sellers during evaluation and assessment processes, including escalation processes.
  4. Make panel on-boarding and management processes and tools easier. This could reduce barriers that make it hard for sellers to participate.
  5. Improve transparency in opportunities available across government and make it easier for sellers to navigate them.

Questions to prompt your thinking

We heard your thoughts on the following questions, and encouraged you to provide any other feedback you thought could strengthen the final Digital Sourcing Fair Criteria Policy.

  1. Do you think the proposed recommendations would address fairness in digital sourcing?
  2. What do you see as the risks, issues or challenges with implementing the proposed recommendations?
  3. How could government talk with industry more effectively to address ‘fairness’ challenges?

Consultation and feedback for the Digital Sourcing Fair Criteria Policy closed on 4 September 2018. The Digital Sourcing Fair Criteria Policy is now available and takes effect 1 July 2019.