Author
David Toma
David Toma

The Office of the Chief Advisor—Procurement has published new guidelines for disclosing government-awarded contracts. And for using and disclosing confidentiality provisions.

To implement these guidelines, agencies need to keep a record of their contracts in sufficient detail. Agencies are expected to contribute to the government’s commitment to openness and transparency in procurement.

In our report to parliament Confidentiality disclosure of government contracts (Report 1: 2017–18) , we found that The Office of the Chief Advisor—Procurement's guidance clearly set out the requirements for what agencies should disclose regarding reportable contracts, but:

  • its process was less clear for where and how these disclosures should occur. This led to confusion amongst agencies on how to discharge their responsibilities
  • the guidelines allowed agencies to disclose transactional data instead of the full contract value. This meant the public could not get a true view of the value of a contract
  • agencies needed more guidance on how to use, and record the use of, specific confidentiality provisions in their contracts. Of note, for our audit, we were unable to assess the extent and appropriateness of the use of confidentiality provisions in Queensland Government contracts because the five audited departments’ contract registers lacked sufficient information.

To address these issues, in May 2019, The Office of the Chief Advisor—Procurement published an update of its procurement guidelines for contract disclosure and the use and disclosure of confidentiality provisions in government contracts

The new guidelines require agencies to publish details of all awarded contracts over $10 000 on the Queensland Government open data website. This includes:

  • contracts valued $10,000 to $9,999,999—basic contract details must be published including:
    • name and address of the agency procuring the contract
    • a description of the goods or services procured
    • the date of award or contract value
    • the value of the contract or standing offering arrangement
    • the name and address of the successful supplier
    • state if the disclosure is a variation to a contract
    • state if a specific confidentiality provision has been used
  • contracts valued $500,000 and above—basic contract details must be published, as well as the procurement method used (that is, whether the offer method used was open, select or limited).

Agencies must also publish monthly datasets of contract information, ensuring that no more than 60 days elapses between contract award and publication.

To satisfy these requirements, agencies will need to keep a register of contracts that they can use to capture the basic details required for the disclosures, including whether a contract has a specific confidentiality provision.

In our report Confidentiality disclosure of government contracts (Report 1: 2017–18) we recommended (recommendation 4) that all public sector agencies should improve their contract registers or contract management systems to ensure a complete record of all awarded contracts. The enhancements should include:

  • consolidating all contracts in one record, or where a decentralised model is elected, maintaining this information in a consistent format so that it can be consolidated
  • documenting whether a contract has specific confidentiality provisions and the reasons for their use
  • documenting reasons for non-disclosure of contracts.

Agencies should contact The Office of the Chief Advisor—Procurement if they need further guidance.