In 2017/18, the Australian Government published 73,458 tender contracts with a combined value of $71.1 billion. Of the tenders, apart from military contracts, 15 per cent were for work involving management and business professional services with the rest falling into a range of other categories including education and training, building and construction and maintenance, healthcare and other services.
According to Darren Frearson, founder of the Australian Anti-Corruption Certification Register, the country’s first national register of businesses that have certified to be corruption free.
“A lot of businesses, especially small businesses, think they’re too small to apply for government work, but the reality is, they are not,” he said. “In addition to all the federal government work that is tendered out, every state and territory puts out tenders, as do local councils. I think more needs to be done to get small and medium-sized businesses involved in government tenders. We need a national campaign led by the federal government.”
Frearson added, “There are a lot of small businesses across Australia that either don’t know about all the government opportunities that are available or they think it’s too hard. Either way, we need a federal government led campaign to change this. The federal government has put in place some good initiatives to increase SME participation.”
Commonwealth Procurement Rules include a commitment to source at least 10 per cent value of all procurement from SMEs. In 2018, the federal government announced an additional commitment to source at least 35 per cent of contracts valued up to $20 million from SMEs. Currently, SMEs account for around 18% of the value of federal government contracts.
“My advice to small and medium-sized businesses is to get involved. You are a key part of our economy and should be involved in delivering services to governments at all levels,” Frearson said.
Here he outlines his key tips for SMEs to assist them in tendering for government work:
“I created the Australian Anti-Corruption Certification Register (AACC) to give businesses the opportunity to verify their commitment to honest and ethical business practices. I believe by having the AACC logo on your communications and mentioned in your tender proposal, this shows you are genuinely committed to ethical business practices,” Frearson said.
“I know I would rather do business with an organisation that has certified to be corruption free, and I’m sure governments would too. When going through the tendering process, it is important to include as many added benefits as possible. Showing you are corruption free should be one of those benefits.”
The Australian Anti-Corruption Certification Register is a national organisation which promotes ethical conduct in business, informs Government and other key decision makers regarding issues affecting business and maintains a register of businesses that have warranted they are free from corruption.