Infrastructure procurement is a complex and constantly evolving network of law, policies and codes.

Keeping up to date with legislative changes, recent case law and policy shifts is paramount for all parties involved in the procurement process. So what do you need to know in order to not only effectively navigate this space, but also stay ahead of the curve?

NSW government procurement overhaul

In the last five years, there has been a push for serious reform in NSW government procurement.

In 2012, the NSW government released the NSW Commission of Audit Final Report, which noted that NSW government procurement was ‘an array of dated, complex and uncoordinated processes.’

Shortly after, the NSW government released the Strategic Directions Statement for 2013-2014, outlining the major actions to be implemented under its procurement reform program to achieve the strategic objectives of value for money, delivering quality government services and alignment with business needs. Additional actions were added to the Procurement Strategic Directions Statement 2014-2015. An update and progress report on the implementation of the Strategic Directions Statement was reported in the Procurement Board’s Annual Report.

In 2014, legislative amendments were enacted to transfer procurement laws to the Public Works and Procurement Act 1912 (NSW) (the Act) to streamline the internal government procurement process, and make it easier for suppliers to engage in business with the NSW government by providing simpler contracts and reducing the requirements to register for government business.

NSW government procurement is now governed by the requirements set out in Part 11 of the Act, and the government’s procurement documents and information, which are available on the ProcurePoint website, are being updated to reference the new legislation.

With the major reform almost complete (with the exception of devolving a small number of whole of government contracts from NSW procurement to cluster/agencies), there has been a recent call for proposals to conduct a ‘NSW Whole of Government Procurement Strategy Review’.

The aim of the review is to measure the success of the major procurement and ensure that the NSW government is best positioned to achieve the stated objectives of value for money, deliverance of quality government goods and services, and alignment of procurement with business needs.

The successful proponent will be required to complete a detailed assessment of NSW procurement governance, agency accreditation, devolution of whole of government agreements, pre-qualifications schemes, the function of NSW procurement and the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Policy Framework evaluation.

The review will include:

  1. project planning and project governance
  2. data collection including information on pre-procurement reform, reform implementation and post reform
  3. stakeholder engagement with NSW Procurement Board members, agencies (including the Treasury and Commissioning and Contestability Unit) and suppliers
  4. analysis of the procurement reform including best practices for the NSW Procurement Board, Agency Accreditation and devolution
  5. identification of an implementation plan
  6. an assessment of quantitative and qualitative feedback from SMEs and industry bodies and other stakeholders involved in procuring from SMEs.

The review aims to achieve:

  1. a comprehensive analysis of the extent of the procurement reform through the procurement board, agency accreditation and devolution as well as reviewing NSW procurement and prequalification schemes is producing worthwhile results (outputs, outcomes) and/or meeting each of its objectives including delivering value for money, quality government services and aligning with business needs
  2. an assessment of the extent the procurement reform is achieving the intended objectives, including any positive or negative unintended impacts, and considering the extent to which procurement has performed (and should perform) in achieving policy objectives (including SME development, Indigenous involvement and encouraging innovation)
  3. the evaluation of the NSW government SME Policy Framework through a user-centred design approach (including identifying opportunities for high growth SMEs and lifting SME participation across 15 targeted categories, exploring opportunities to encourage governments and large corporates to be first customers of high-growth SMEs, and assessing the effectiveness of SME participation measurement and monitoring) to report recommendations for improving the SME Policy and increasing SME participation in government procurement
  4. the identification of improvement opportunities including the purpose, strategy, structure and function of NSW Procurement with a recommendation and plan for delivering and enabling world-class procurement across government
  5. the establishment of targets that will be used to evaluate and measure future success.

Whilst we are hopeful that the review will achieve thorough findings and tangible results, further information is yet to be released regarding the assessment of proposals, or the timing of the review itself.

co-written by Holding Redlich lawyer Victoria Gordon