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If you are awarded a contract

My business’s response was successful: what information about me, my business and our response will be made public?

If the value of the contract your business won is $10,000 or more, the title of the contract, the name of your business and the total value of the contract will be published on AusTender within 42 days of the contract being awarded. This same information may also be provided to other businesses that were unsuccessful. Similar information may be published in the Government organisation’s annual report or other parliamentary reporting.

No other details about your response will be made public.

Why are Commonwealth terms and conditions used in preference to my own standard or industry based contract?

The Commonwealth Contract Terms are designed for contracts valued at under $200k have received legal clearance for use without alteration. This means that it is much faster and cheaper for Government organisations and suppliers to enter into a contract and they do not have to seek legal advice for every purchase. There is also a need to include particular requirements that have to be included in contracts with a Government organisation that are not typical of standard private sector contracts. For example, the requirement to comply with national security obligations, the emphasis on information privacy and the need to allow access to records if the Australian National Audit Office audits the contract.

The Commonwealth Contract Terms have been streamlined, had duplication and complexity removed, and written in much simpler language than previously used across government. There has also been extensive consultation with industry and suppliers to ensure that the terms are balanced and fair.

Why are the contracts different from one Government organisation to the next and can they all be the same?

The Commonwealth Contracting Suite (CCS) was introduced in mid 2014 is a standard streamlined and simplified contract that can be used by all Government organisations for contracts valued under $200,000, (not currently used for IT or construction.) Almost 90% of contracts awarded by the Australian Government fall under this amount. Increasing use of the CCS across the Australian Public Service, will significantly reduce contracting issues for government organisations and suppliers.

Contracts above $200,000 may vary between Government organisations due to the risk attitude, the contract specification and business nature of the organistions. Australian Government organisations are being encourage to reduce the red tape burden, complexity and associated costs imposed on business by this situation.

I don’t think I have a contract. I just have a Purchase Order.

A purchase order is actually a simple contract.

The Australian Government also has Commonwealth Purchase Order Terms and these are used across the Australian Government.

I don’t think I have a contract. I just have a Work Order/Consultancy Order/Official Order.

An ‘Order’ is typically issued under a Standing Offer. The Order is the contract. The original agreement between the parties (the Standing Offer) is an agreement called a Deed and was only a preliminary arrangement to determine when and how an Order can be made.

The work order (or other similar document) is the contract document and will contain details of the goods or services that your business has contracted to provide, the price, the delivery details, and administrative information. While the Order Terms will have authority, they must be read together with the terms of the original Deed of Standing Offer.

Will someone in the government organisation manage their side of the contract?

For short term contracts the Government organisation should appoint a contact person with whom you can discuss delivery, acceptance, administration and payment details. For smaller and shorter contracts this is typically the direct client who is using the goods and services or an office manager. For long term or more complex contracts, this may be a designated contract manager or a project manager within a business area of the Government organisation. The contract should contain the contact details for this person and you should attempt to establish an effective working relationship with them through open and regular communication.  .

Are there any tips for working successfully with a government organisation?

  • The most important thing is to deliver the goods or services on time, on budget and in a professional manner.
  • Fill in the paperwork for your contract promptly, and give the Government contract manager any information that they need as soon as you can.
  • Keep your contract manager informed - let them know what is happening during the life of the contract. You might do this by phone, email or attending meetings. Regular meetings relevant to the contract timeframes are good practice.
  • Don’t be afraid to advise of issues. Do this as soon as they arise. A professional contract manager would prefer to work with you to prevent issues rather than try to fix them afterwards.
  • Promptly return phone calls or emails to your contract manager - even if things are not going well. It is better to work with together to fix problems, than to make things worse by being difficult to contact.
  • Do not use the contract as an opportunity to tout for additional work - there are proper procurement processes that must be followed and your client can’t just give you add on work even if it might seem like a good idea to you.
  • Provide correctly rendered invoices.
  • Seek permission before introducing any subcontractors or specified personnel that were not approved on the contract.
  • If you are at the client’s premises, always follow any instructions given there, especially in relation to work health and safety and security issues.
  • If personnel change during the life of your contract, make sure to discuss the transition to conduct introductions early.

Case Studies

Bringing unique Indigenous flavours to the government

Indigenous catering company Bandu is a great example of a small business that’s doing big business with the Australian Government.