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Management of assets
The ABS’ assets are integral to the cost-effective conduct of its business, and are part of the combination of resources required to enable delivery of services. This Chapter outlines the asset management principles, including the approach to purchasing, used by the ABS during 2007–08.
The ABS directly manages its non-financial assets in accordance with Chief Executive Instructions and Australian Accounting Standards. Most of the assets are intangible (internally generated software), valued at $95.6 million in 2007–08, with tangible assets (property plant and equipment) forming the remainder, valued at $50.4 million. Tangible asset values are maintained with the assistance of an independent valuer.
ASSET MANAGEMENT IN THE ABS
Overall, the ABS asset management principles are designed to ensure that asset management practices and decisions support the service delivery requirements and business demands of the organisation, and that capital expenditure decisions address the full life cycle costs, benefits and risks of the assets.
The ABS’ approach to asset management encompasses the following principles:
The major strategic issue currently being addressed with respect to ABS assets is the effective management of its information and technology assets. The current strategies to manage these investments are:
The ABS maintains an asset register to address management, statutory reporting and user requirements.
The ABS’ assets are integral to the conduct of its business, and are part of the combination of resources required to enable cost effective service delivery.
The asset register underpins planning policies, analysis of financial programs, capitalisation, and reviews of performance against defined objectives.
For recognition as an asset, the ABS has an expenditure capitalisation threshold of $2,000 for general assets and $1,000 for information and technology assets, including software. Asset expenditure greater than, or equal to, these amounts are capitalised and recorded on the assets register.
The ABS undertakes a wide variety of procurement and contracting activities, with the majority of purchases being classed as low value and low complexity.
The ABS conducts its procurement and contracting activities in accordance with Chief Executive Instructions and the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. The ABS advertises an annual procurement plan on AusTender, and the plan is reviewed and updated as required throughout the year. The ABS has a centralised area of expertise, which provides procurement and contracting support to operational areas, and provides direct support for more complex procurement projects. Information on procurement policy and practices is disseminated to staff through an internal procurement portal.
Through the use of efficient processes and effective application of the ABS and Australian Government policies and principles, the ABS is satisfied its approach to market testing and contracting is highly effective, resulting in value for money outcomes for the ABS. The ABS continues to invest in developing procurement skills and reviewing processes, to ensure efficiency and value for money outcomes are continued. During 2007–08, the ABS released revised Chief Executive Instructions for procurement. These were reviewed following the release of the Management Advisory Committee report, ‘Reducing Red Tape in the Australian Public Service’.
The ABS has not undertaken any competitive tendering and contracting activities during the year that have resulted in the contracting out of government activities previously performed by the ABS.
Information relating to expenditure on contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website <http://www.tenders.gov.au>.
During the 2007–08 financial year, the ABS did not exempt any contracts from publication by AusTender, under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.