Audit office review blasts Digital Transformation Agency’s procurement processes as “weak”

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Nine procurements conducted by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) have been blasted as “weak” in a report by the Australian National Audit Office.

The review was conducted to provide “increased transparency over the DTA’s procurement framework; and assurance to the Parliament that the DTA’s procurement of ICT-related services is being conducted effectively and that the DTA is effectively managing contracts to deliver on intended objectives and achieve value for money.” 

Weaknesses were noted in the DTA’s governance, oversight and probity arrangements for procurements.

The review examined procurement of ICT-related services by the DTA under the Morrison Government from 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2021, including the height of the pandemic. Values of the procurements ranged from $127,334 to $28.1 million.

The review said none of the procurements fully complied with Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs).

“The DTA did not conduct approach to market or tender evaluation processes effectively, and it did not consistently provide sound advice to decision-makers. The DTA’s frequent direct sourcing of suppliers using panel arrangements does not support the intent of the CPRs including the achievement of value for money,” the review said. 

In a procurement with Nous Group in April 2020 for myGov updates, a contract was varied 10 times, “increasing the value of the contract by 40 times from $121,000 to $4,942,080,” a case study in the ANAO review said.

None of the procurements reviewed had a contract management plan, the ANAO said. Issues with the timeliness of payments were reported, and “weaknesses in the DTA’s internal payment controls” which led to duplicate payments being made. 

The DTA has accepted eight of the recommendations from the review.

“While the audit report identifies shortfalls in relation to internal procurement processes, controls and education, each of the sampled procurements still achieved their intended outcomes and supported critical delivery requirements in an unprecedented pandemic environment,” a DTA response said.

 

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