Procurement and purchasing
Purchasing within the ALRC is guided by its Procurement and Purchasing Policy, which is consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) and the PGPA Act. 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 2014–15, the ALRC reported Contract Notices for:
- Secure Internet Gateway—CN 3096982
- Subscriptions to online legal services—CN 3084922
- ICT Support—CN 3081972
- Rent—CN 3081902
- Office Supplies and Stationary—CN 1014931 and CN 1014921
- Photocopiers—CN 824411
Procurement initiatives to support small business
The ALRC supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website at www.finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts/.
Due to the nature of the operations of the ALRC and its small size, much of the ALRC’s procurement is small in scale and under the $200,000 threshold. Much of the ALRC’s procurement is either through whole-of-government panels or from SMEs. The ALRC’s procurement policy facilitates the involvement of SMEs in procurement by:
- adopting a risk assessment framework for procurement that is commensurate with the scale and scope of the procurement;
- communicating in clear simple language and presenting information in an accessible format; and
- Utilising electronic systems to facilitate on-time payments where possible
During 2014–15, the ALRC contracted with four Indigenous SMEs to provide services as follows:
- Gilimbaa—art work for the Native Title Final Report.
- 33 Creative—video production for the launch of Native Title Final Report.
- Kallico Catering—for the Native Title Final Report launch.
- Muru Group—for recycled office paper and notebook supplies.
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 www.alrc.gov.au/ips-agency-plan.
During 2014–15, the ALRC received no FOI requests.
Legal services expenditure
As per 11.1(ba) and (da) of the Legal Services Directions 2005, the ALRC reports that during 2014–15 the ALRC was compliant with these Directions. The ALRC’s legal expenditure for 2014–15 was $1,660.70.
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 ALRC employed two consultancies during 2014–15. Oakton Consultants undertook a review of the ALRC’s Enterprise Risk Management Framework, Operational Risk Management Plan and Fraud Control policies at the request of the ALRC Audit Committee ($9,900). Sentio Consulting were engaged to design and implement a digital records procedure for the ALRC’s financial and human resources areas ($5,000).
Advertising and market research
As required under s 311A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the ALRC reports that during 2014–15 it did not undertake any advertising campaigns or 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 2014–15:
The ALRC is located in the MLC Centre at Level 40, 19 Martin Place, Sydney. The MLC building has achieved five stars under the NABERS Energy rating system which was 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 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, where relevant.
The ALRC can report that there have been the following Easy English PDF downloads during the reporting period:
- Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws Issues Paper—243
- Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws Discussion Paper—266
- Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws Final Report Summary—241
- Making a Submission—506
- Law Reform Process—490
The ALRC is committed to ensuring that all Australians are able to contribute to shaping the laws that affect them, and have the opportunity to participate in the law reform process. The ALRC recognises the diversity of the Australian community and has developed an Agency Multicultural Plan (AMP) that provides strategies for ensuring that ALRC processes are accessible and responsive to the diverse needs of this community. In working towards meaningful and ongoing dialogue with people from diverse backgrounds, the ALRC commits to:
- engage and consult with diverse groups, individuals and organisations;
- promote diverse representation in the ALRC workforce and internship program;
- promote understanding of issues relevant to diverse peoples amongst ALRC staff; and
- consider the impact on diverse peoples in developing recommendations for reform.
The ALRC’s workplace diversity statement commits the ALRC to foster a diverse workforce and to ensure that its recruitment processes are fair and accessible, including a commitment to attract and recruit people from diverse backgrounds and, wherever possible, to participate in whole-of-APS recruitment. A breakdown of staff by gender and classification is provided in Table 8.
Agency Multicultural Plan (AMP)
The ALRC’s Multicultural Plan commits the ALRC to multicultural access, equity and social inclusion. As a law reform body, the ALRC has the opportunity to contribute to social justice, equity and inclusion in Australia through reform of laws appropriate to the diversity of the Australian community. The ALRC has committed to engaging and consulting with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) organisations and communities and to consider the impact on CALD communities when formulating recommendations for law reform.
The ALRC’s AMP is available on the ALRC website. A report against the ALRC AMP for 2014–15 is at Appendix K.
Reconciliation Action Plan
The ALRC sees reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as comprising both processes and outcomes—requiring meaningful and ongoing dialogue between Indigenous peoples and the ALRC. Respect for Indigenous peoples, participation of Indigenous peoples in ALRC inquiries, and consideration and understanding of issues that are important to Indigenous peoples, are considered essential features of the ALRC’s commitment to reconciliation.
The ALRC recognises that historically the Australian legal system has failed to deliver equitable social and economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples. As a law reform body, the ALRC has the opportunity to contribute to social justice, equity and inclusion in Australia.
The ALRC has a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) that was developed in 2009 and is reported on and updated biennially. Our reports are published on the ALRC website.
The ALRC recognises that its RAP needs to achieve practical outcomes. Therefore, the ALRC commits to:
- engage and consult with Indigenous groups, individuals and organisations;
- promote Indigenous representation in the ALRC workforce and internship program;
- promote a meaningful understanding of issues relevant to Indigenous peoples amongst ALRC staff;
- consider the impact on Indigenous peoples in developing recommendations for reform; and
- strive in all aspects of our work to protect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples.
The ALRC has developed consultation strategies that assist in identifying Indigenous stakeholders for particular inquiries. The ALRC is committed to ensuring that our consultation strategies reflect the diversity of circumstances of Indigenous communities and, where possible, the ALRC will take special measures to ensure that our processes are accessible and open, including using interpreters or Indigenous consultants, taking oral submissions and adopting other flexible consultation methods.
The ALRC consults with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and individuals on its inquiries to ensure that Indigenous perspectives and experience are considered when formulating proposals for law reform. During 2014–15, the ALRC consulted with 22 Indigenous organisations with regards to the Inquiry into the Native Title Act 1993.
The ALRC provides feedback to Indigenous communities about the results of consultations and/or inquiries in a number of ways including by using the ALRC website, through fact sheets, articles in publications and through conferences and seminars. The Native Title legal team attended the National Native Title Conference in June 2015 and presented a paper on the recommendations in the Native Title Inquiry Final Report. Commissioner for the Native Title Inquiry, Professor Lee Godden, was interviewed on NITV and ALRC President, Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, was interviewed by the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) and the National Indigenous Radio Service (NIRS). An article was published in the Koori Mail and information sheets about the Final Report were sent to each of the Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRB).
The ALRC celebrated National Reconciliation Week by attending an event at the Australian Government Solicitors Office.
A report against the ALRC RAP for 2014–15 is at Appendix L.