Procurement and purchasing
Purchasing within the ALRC is guided by its Procurement and Purchasing Policy, which is consistent with the 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 rules 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 sets ‘value for money’ as the core principle in procurement decisions and also ensures that the ALRC’s procurement encourages competition and ensures the proper use of resources, accountability and transparency. ‘Value for money’ in a procurement process requires a comparative analysis of all relevant costs and benefits of each proposal throughout the whole procurement cycle (whole-of-life costing) and making decisions in an accountable and transparent manner. ‘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 ALRC 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 has established a coordinated Whole-of-Government 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, purchasing major office machines, desktop computers, Microsoft software and office supplies.
The ALRC publishes an Annual Procurement Plan on the AusTender website. During 2013–14, the ALRC reported on the procurement of new computers and monitors under SON 335550.
Legal services expenditure
As per 11.1(ba) and (da) of the Legal Services Directions 2005, the ALRC reports that during 2013–14 the ALRC was compliant with these Directions. The ALRC’s legal expenditure for 2013–14 was $17,226.49 (GST exclusive) representing expenditure with the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) on professional fees. The total value of disbursements was $1,235.58. The ALRC sought advice from the AGS on a number of constitutional matters with regards to the recommendations in the Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era Report, and on policy changes that would be necessitated by the transition from the FMA Act to the PGPA Act.
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 Rules.
The ALRC did not employ any consultants during 2013–14.
Advertising and market research
As required under s 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the ALRC reports that, during 2013–14, it did not undertake any advertising campaigns nor conduct any market research with advertising agencies, market research organisations, polling organisations, direct mail organisations, or media advertising organisations.
The ALRC maintains efficient and effective environmental office practices that comply with relevant government policy and environmental legislation. The ALRC’s Environment Management Policy is available on the ALRC website and, in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act), it commits the ALRC to minimise the ecological footprint of its activities by:
- incorporating environmental management considerations into core business and management practices including the organisation of the ALRC’s core program—conducting inquiries;
- 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;
- setting measurable environmental targets as part of a continual improvement process;
- regularly monitoring environmental performance and providing reports to Government, as required; and
- reviewing this Policy at least every two years to ensure it is relevant and delivering desired outcomes.
In line with the principals of ecologically sustainable development, and in line with s 516A of the EPBC Act, the ALRC makes the following report for 2013–14:
The ALRC is located in the MLC Centre at Level 40, 19 Martin Place, Sydney. The MLC building has achieved 5 stars under the NABERS Energy rating system which is current until March 2015. NABERS (the National Australian Built Environment Rating System) is a performance-based rating system which measures the overall environmental performance of a building during its hours of operation.
Automated lighting controls are used in the ALRC office that switch off office lighting when people are out of the office, and non-essential lighting outside of work hours. Employees must turn off computers, printers and photocopiers over weekends to minimise the ALRC’s energy use.
Waste and recycling
The ALRC supports recycling programs including for paper, co-mingled material and electronic equipment as part of our office tenancy. ALRC employees are encouraged to sort waste appropriately in order to maximise recycling and minimise the ALRC’s disposal of waste to landfill.
The ALRC office is located at the MLC Centre and it is not possible to rate the ALRC’s water usage separately. NABERS Water measures the water consumption of an office building on a scale of one to five stars, reflecting the performance of the building relative to the market, from least efficient (one star) to best practice (five stars). Two and a half stars is the current market average. The MLC building received a rating of 4 stars under the NABERS Water rating system.
ALRC employees are encouraged to undertake air travel only where there is a demonstrated business need and other communication methods, such as teleconferencing, are not available or not appropriate in the circumstance. The ALRC’s air travel is most commonly to undertake consultations for inquiry purposes and to ensure that people from around Australia are able to meet with the ALRC about the areas of law that are under review.
The ALRC does not have a vehicle fleet. When ALRC Executives are provided with vehicles as part of their remuneration package they must conform to the ALRC Executive Vehicle Policy in which they are asked to treat fuel efficiency and carbon emissions as significant factors when choosing a vehicle. ALRC employees use public transport and share vehicles as far as possible.
The ALRC has committed to reducing the amount of print copies of documents produced. Consultation papers, including Issues Papers and Discussion Papers, are now only published online, unless there are special circumstances that require a hard copy to be produced.
All employees are encouraged to consider ways to minimise printing and encouraged to print double-sided for documents that are for internal purposes. The general-use office copy paper is 100% recycled, carbon neutral and FSC rated.
As part of the Government’s digital transition policy, the ALRC has moved significantly away from the creation and storage of paper records and this in turn has reduced both our usage of paper and the amount of printing done by the organisation.
The ALRC is committed to the inclusion of and participation by people with disability in its inquiry work. The ALRC encourages consultation with people with disability by presenting our publications in a range of different formats and, at the end of our inquiries, providing community information sheets that outline the key recommendations made in its reports that may impact on people with disability.
During 2013–14 the ALRC undertook to produce two consultation papers for the Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws Inquiry in Easy English. Information about the inquiry process, consultations and submissions was also produced in Easy English and Auslan and is available on the ALRC website.
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.
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 Information Publication Plan (IPP) is updated annually and contains details about the information held within the ALRC, and how it handles this information. It is published on the ALRC website at https://www.alrc.gov.au/ips-agency-plan.
During 2013–14, the ALRC received four 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.