Procurement and purchasing
Purchasing within the ALRC is guided by its Procurement and Purchasing Policy, which are consistent with the 2012 Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs). As an agency expending public money, the ALRC must be accountable for its resources and expenditure. The Government requires the ALRC to promote the proper use of resources within the framework of policies that the Government has set for itself and its agencies. These policies aim to achieve efficient, effective and ethical procurement outcomes with a focus on value for money and provide guidelines as to how these outcomes may be realised when undertaking procurement.
The ALRC’s Procurement and Purchasing Policy was updated in June 2012 to reflect the requirements of the 2012 Commonwealth Procurement Rules and sets ‘value for money’ as the core principle in procurement decisions. ‘Value for money’ is determined with reference to efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, transparency, ethics, Australian Government policies and environmental considerations. In a procurement process this principle requires a comparative analysis of all relevant costs and benefits of each proposal throughout the whole procurement cycle (whole-of-life costing) making decisions in an accountable and transparent manner.
The ALRC’s Procurement and Purchasing Policy recognises that ‘value for money’ also involves adopting processes that reflect the scale and risk profile of a particular procurement and that simple procurements should be undertaken using simple processes.
Risk management is built into the ALRC’s procurement processes and the extent of risk management required will vary from following routine procurement processes, to a significant undertaking involving the highest level of planning, analysis and documentation.
Where the Government establishes a coordinated procurement contract for a particular property or service, the ALRC will use the government contract established for that property or service, unless an exemption has been provided. The ALRC currently uses a coordinated procurement contract for travel and purchasing office machines.
The ALRC has an Environmental Management Policy that commits the ALRC to consider the environmental impact of any purchases and to seek to minimise the ecological footprint of ALRC’s activities. Reference to this policy is made whenever the ALRC seeks to purchase major office equipment, office supplies, printing and publishing services, and other consumables and services that might impact on the environment in a negative way.
The ALRC publishes an Annual Procurement Plan on the AusTender website. During 2011–12, the ALRC undertook one procurement for office machines through the WofG MOM panel.
From time to time, the ALRC may engage a consultant where it lacks specialist expertise. Prior to engaging consultants, the ALRC takes into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally, and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the FMA Act and related regulations including the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines (CPGs).
The ALRC did not employ any consultants during 2011–12.
Advertising and market research
As required under s 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the ALRC reports that, during 2011–12, it did not undertake any advertising campaigns nor conduct any market research with advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations, and media advertising organisations.
Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance
As required under s 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, the ALRC is required to report the environmental performance of the organisation and the organisation’s contribution to Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD).
The ALRC has considered whether any of its activities have significant ESD implications in accordance with the ESD Reporting Guidelines (June 2003) and has determined that in 2011–12, none of the ALRC’s activities or appropriations were relevant to ESD.
The ALRC is committed to environmental best practice in office management and general operations. Through a process of continual improvement, the ALRC will develop and maintain efficient and effective environmental office practices and will comply with relevant government policy and environmental legislation.
The ALRC’s Environmental Management Policy commits the organisation to minimise its ecological footprint by:
incorporating environmental management considerations into the ALRC’s core business and management practices;
considering environmental impacts of all purchases made and ensuring that, wherever possible, options chosen include recyclable products, minimum packaging and minimum toxic chemicals;
creating a culture where sustainable environmental management is considered an integral element of all ALRC activities and providing information to staff as to the recycling system and to maximising energy efficiency;
regularly monitoring environmental performance; and
reviewing this Policy to ensure it remains relevant and delivers desired outcomes.
In minimising our environmental impact, the ALRC will consider the following:
options for travel during the consultation process, using telephone conferencing when appropriate instead of air travel, using public transport when appropriate, and sharing vehicles as far as possible;
encouraging filing electronically, rather than in hard copy, to reduce the amount of paper used;
printing double-sided copies for internal documents;
using paper that is recycled and/or has an environmental sustainability rating;
encouraging the use of e-payments;
encouraging online submitting to ALRC inquiries to reduce paper usage;
purchasing ‘fair trade’ consumables, if available;
ensuring all office lights are switched off overnight;
ensuring printers, fax machines and computers are turned off on weekends and holidays;
encouraging all staff to use the building recycling system for waste and mixed recyclables;
asking ALRC Commissioners—who are eligible for a vehicle as part of their remuneration—to treat fuel efficiency and carbon emissions as significant factors when choosing a vehicle;
encouraging staff to use window blinds to regulate the temperature of their offices to reduce the use of the air conditioning system, particularly during summer months; and
considering the amount of packaging when purchasing goods for the office.
The ALRC monitors energy use and takes steps to reduce consumption where possible. In 2011–12 electricity consumption decreased by 52.57%. This was largely due to our move in April 2011 to premises with half the floor space of our previous office.
In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role in inclusion and participation of people with disability was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au. The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by a new National Disability Strategy which sets out a ten-year national policy framework for improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers. A high level report to track progress for people with disability at a national level will be produced by the Standing Council on Community, Housing and Disability Services to the Council of Australian Governments and will be available at www.fahcsia.gov.au. The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy agreed by the Government in December 2009 will also include some reporting on disability matters in its regular How Australia is Faring report and, if appropriate, in strategic change indicators in agency annual reports. More detail on social inclusion matters can be found at www.socialinclusion.gov.au.
The ALRC has a broad commitment to the inclusion of, and participation by, people with disability. The ALRC has a Reasonable Adjustment Policy that allows for people with disability to compete for vacancies and pursue careers at the ALRC as effectively as people who do not have a disability. Reasonable adjustment is the modification of some feature of the workplace or work situation to fit the individual needs of a person with disability. The principles of reasonable adjustment are to be applied in relation to all areas of ALRC employment including recruitment and selection, promotion, training, career development, and performance management. Reasonable adjustment aims to remove physical and organisational barriers which prevent the employment, limit the performance or curtail advancement of people with disability. Reasonable adjustments might include one or more of the following:
adjustments to the workplace, equipment or facilities, including provision of additional equipment or facilities;
adjustments to work-related communications or information provision, including the format in which information is available;
adjustments to work methods;
provision of interpreters, readers, attendants or other work-related assistance;
job redesign, with re-allocation of some duties not suitable for a person with a disability and inclusion of other duties previously the responsibility of another employee; and
providing training to co-workers or supervisors.
The ALRC encourages consultation with people with disability presenting our publications in a range of different formats. During the reporting period the ALRC commissioned Vision Australia to review the ALRC website against the Web Accessibility Initiative Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0 (WAI WCAG 2.0) and is working towards meeting Level AA by September 2012.
Freedom of information
Agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. The ALRC’s IPS is published on the website and updated annually, and contains details about the information held within the ALRC, and how it handles this information.
During 2011–12 the ALRC received two FOI requests.
Under s 11C of the FOI Act, the ALRC is required to publish a Disclosure Log of information contained in documents which it has released under the Act, subject to limitations to protect personal and business information or other information that the Australian Information Commissioner may determine is unreasonable to publish. This Disclosure log is at https://www.alrc.gov.au/about/foi-disclosure-log.
Since May 2011, the ALRC publishes its Information Publication Plan on its website, as required by the Freedom of Information Act 1982. This IPP is at https://www.alrc.gov.au/ips-agency-plan.