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DTA to look back at historic contracts, inquiry hears

All current procurement activities conducted by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) and samples of historic contracts are being reviewed, two months after a scathing Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) review. 

The DTA told a parliamentary committee it is reviewing all current contracts during the agency’s  submission to the Joint Public Accounts and Audit committee inquiry into Commonwealth procurement, ITNews reports. 

The DTA audit called the agency “ineffective” and said its handling of some contracts fell “short of ethical requirements”.

Nine procurements conducted by the DTA were blasted as “weak” in a review by the Australian National Audit Office.

The review into the DTA said none of the procurements fully complied with Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs). One contract valued at $121,000 was increased by 40 times to nearly $5 million. 

The ANAO’s ninth recommendation was for the agency to “strengthen its internal guidance and controls to ensure officials do not vary contracts”.

“The DTA corporate procurement team is currently reviewing all significant contracts to ensure these contracts are being managed effectively”, the agency’s submission said.

Historical reviews of contracts will aim to identify “potential areas of deficiency in procurements not sampled by ANAO”.

ITNews reported contracts will be chosen in two ways: staff raising procurements within the last 18 months that “may benefit from a retrospective assessment”; and contracts “with similar risk characteristics” to those sampled by the ANAO.

Risk characteristics include “high value procurements; limited tender issues and high levels of contract variation”.

An overpayment of $380,000 to a consultancy – identified by the ANAO audit – will be repaid under a 12-month repayment plan agreed to in October, the submission revealed. 

The ANAO examined nine DTA procurements from in 2019–20 and 2020–21, with a combined reported value of $54.5 million. These included an open tender; seven panel procurements including four where the DTA approached one supplier off the panel); and one limited tender.

ITNews also revealed the Federal Government is looking within to bolster procurement and contract management capabilities with training after recent damning external audits.

The Centre of Procurement Excellence established in 2019 has moved into a new “Future Made in Australia Office” as part of Albanese Government’s Made in Australia Policy and Buy Australian Plan. 

Elsewhere, DTA is planning an updated digital marketplace for 2024 to better meet the needs of buyers and sellers. (CRN). 

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