ASSETS, PURCHASING, CONSULTANTS, ADVERTISING, MARKET RESEARCH AND LEGAL SERVICES
The ABS’s assets are integral to the effective conduct of its business, and are part of the combination of resources required for service delivery. This chapter outlines the asset management principles, including the approach to purchasing, used by ABS during 2013–14.
The ABS directly manages its non-financial assets in accordance with Chief Executive Instructions and Australian Accounting Standards. The total value of assets is $117.3 million. Most of the assets are intangible (internally generated software), and were valued at $70.4 million in 2013–14. Tangible assets (property, plant and equipment) formed the remainder, and were valued at $36.1 million with other non-financial assets (prepayments and accrued revenue) valued at $10.8 million. Tangible asset values are maintained with the assistance of an independent assessor.
Asset management in the ABS
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’s approach to asset management encompasses the following principles:
asset management activities are undertaken within an integrated government asset management framework
asset planning and management are integrated with corporate and business plans,
as well as budgetary and reporting processes
capital expenditure decisions are based on evaluations of alternatives that take into account full life-cycle costs, benefits and risks of assets
ownership, control, accountability and reporting requirements for assets are established, clearly communicated and implemented.
The ABS maintains an asset register to address management, statutory reporting and user requirements.
The ABS’s 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 is capitalised and recorded on the asset register.
Purchasing and competitive tendering and contracting
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 the Commonwealth procurement policy framework, the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, and Chief Executive Instructions. 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.
Using efficient processes and effective application of ABS and Australian Government policies and principles, the ABS is satisfied that its approach to market testing and contracting is highly effective, resulting in value-for-money outcomes. ABS continues to invest in developing procurement skills and reviewing processes to ensure that efficiency and value-for-money outcomes are achieved.
During the 2013–14 financial year the ABS did not exempt any contracts from publication by AusTender, under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 .
Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies.
Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website: www.tenders.gov.au.
During 2013–14 14 new consultancy contracts were entered into, involving total actual expenditure of $0.694 million. In addition, 4 ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the 2013–14 year, involving total actual expenditure of $0.344 million.
ADVERTISING AND MARKET RESEARCH
The ABS paid $149,581 (GST exclusive) for advertising, and $14,397 (GST exclusive) for public relations consultancies. The organisations that supplied these services included Universal McCann and Leo Burnett. The ABS also paid $136,820 (GST exclusive) for market research in 2013–14.
Market research expenditure incurred in 2013–14 was in relation to testing for the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, the 2011 Census campaign evaluation, as well as a household respondent’s behavioural survey and research on contact material. The organisations that supplied the market research services included DBM Consultants and Hall and Partners Open Mind Pty Ltd.
LEGAL SERVICES EXPENDITURE
Paragraph 11.1 (ba) of the Legal Services Directions 2005 (issued by the Attorney-General under section 55ZF of the Judiciary Act 1903) requires the ABS to make records of its legal services expenditure available, to the public.
For the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014, legal services expenditure by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is shown in the following table.
Table 13.1: Summary of Legal Services Expenditure 2013-14 (inclusive of GST)
|Total number of Counsel briefed|
|Male counsel briefed|
|Female counsel briefed|
|Total number of Counsel direct briefed|
|Male counsel direct briefed|
|Female counsel direct briefed|
|Total value of Counsel briefs|
|Male counsel briefs|
|Female counsel briefs|
|Disbursements (excluding Counsel)|
|Total professional fees paid|
|Breakdown of Professional Fees paid|
|Australian Government Solicitor|
|Sage Legal Services|
|Norton Rose Fulbright (previously Norton Rose)|