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Government welcomes independent review report

The Government welcomes the findings of the Independent Review of Services Australia and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Procurement and Contracting which examined the procurement processes leading to the award of contracts to Synergy 360 and other entities (the Independent Review).

Esteemed former public servant Dr Ian Watt AC led the Independent Review established by the CEOs of Services Australia and the NDIA.

A joint Services Australia-NDIA taskforce provided its findings to Dr Watt who provided his own report. The Independent Review was completed in March, with its two reports recently being delivered to the NDIA and Services Australia.

The Independent Review found issues with a number of procurements, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, awarded to companies for work for the two agencies.

The Independent Review was triggered by a number of media reports that revealed Senior Coalition MP Stuart Robert gave advice to Synergy 360 – a lobbying and consulting firm which helps companies win government contracts.

The Independent Review flagged 19 out of 95 procurements for further investigation due to inconsistencies with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) or good practice. The approximate value of these 19 procurements was $374 million. Five of the procurements were for the NDIA and 14 for Services Australia.

Seventy-six other procurements valued at $244 million were deemed not to warrant further investigation.

The Independent Review was limited to considering internal agency practices and processes and the conduct of Services Australia and NDIA employees and related contractors.

Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, the Hon. Bill Shorten MP, said “I thank Services Australia, the NDIA and Dr Watt for completing this important work that gives transparency to the awarding of these taxpayer-funded contracts.”

“The Government will now consider the Independent Review’s findings and recommendations.”

The Independent Review found:

The majority (71 per cent) of the 95 procurements determined to be in scope for the Independent Review were consistent with the CPRs and broadly demonstrated good practice.
Nineteen procurements were flagged for further investigation due to inconsistencies with the CPRs or good practice. Within these 19, common issues included:
lack of appropriate documentation and/or records
delays in reporting contracts and amendments on AusTender within 42 days of entering into or amending a contract
insufficient value for money justifications.
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