Consultants and Contractors

Protocol for the engagement and use of contractors - Goods and Services

Treasurer's Instruction 1113 contains the processes that agencies must apply for the engagement and use of contractors and consultants for goods and services.

Definitions

A "contractor" is an individual or organisation engaged under a contract (other than as an employee) to provide goods and/or services to an agency. A contractor will usually work under the supervision of an agency manager.

A "consultant" is a particular type of contractor who is engaged to provide recommendations or specialist or professional advice (or more generally non-manual services) to assist or influence agency decision making.

A consultant is normally expected to:

  • work without direct supervision;
  • exercise his or her own judgement;
  • conduct complex research or investigations; and
  • provide advice or recommendations that form the basis for agency decision making or the taking of a certain course of action.

A consultant is usually engaged by way of a short term or temporary contract.

Not all of these characteristics are required to be present for a contractor to be a consultant but many of them will be.

Background

The Government is committed to minimising the use of contractors, particularly consultants, by inner-Budget agencies and expects that the professional expertise within the State Service will be utilised prior to engaging external providers.

Wherever possible, the opportunity should be taken to develop and retain skills in the State Service as an alternative to engaging a consultant or contractor.

An external contractor must only be engaged when options for sourcing the required goods and/or services from within the agency, or from another Tasmanian inner-Budget agency, have been fully considered.

Acceptable reasons for engaging a consultant include:

  • the work is essential and the skills and expertise required are not currently available within the agency;
  • the cost of undertaking the work "in-house" would exceed the cost of having the work performed by a consultant;
  • the work is intermittent or once-off in nature;
  • the experience of an external organisation is required; or
  • there is a need for an objective, independent opinion.

Where the engagement of a consultant or contractor is unavoidable, it is the responsibility of the Head of Agency to ensure that every opportunity is made to improve the knowledge and skills base of agency personnel during the period of the consultancy or contract and skill transfer from the consultant or contractor should be facilitated.

In order to ensure that agencies are applying the same principles in assessing the need to engage consultants and contractors, the protocol has been developed to provide guidance. Careful application of the protocol will ensure that the Government's policy with respect to the engagement of consultants and contractors is being applied uniformly by all agencies.

Application of the Protocol

1.

This protocol will apply to the engagement of all consultants and contractors by agencies.

2.

The protocol will not apply to the commissioning of consultants for building and construction works. Such engagements are covered by the Department of Treasury and Finance's publication Procurement Practices Manual: Best Practice for the Engagement of Consultants and the 1200 series of the Treasurer's Instructions.

3.

All purchases of services, including those in respect of consultants and contractors, must be made in accordance with the guidelines incorporated within the Treasurer's Instructions 1100 series.

4.

The Head of Agency is directly responsible for the application of this protocol to the engagement of consultants and contractors and will be accountable for the expenditure incurred and outcomes obtained. The agency Delegation Manual must provide that the authority to engage consultants (other than in relation to building and construction works) can only be exercised by an officer at Head of Agency or Deputy Secretary equivalent.

5.

When the use of a consultant is identified as a possible course of action the need to use outside expertise must be first demonstrated to the appropriate delegate.

The Head of Agency or Deputy Secretary (or equivalent) must approve any decision to engage a consultant prior to the Agency undertaking the appropriate procurement process.

A consultant must not be used to support existing staff who are performing routine functions.

Acceptable reasons for engaging a consultant are detailed above and in Treasurer's Instruction 1113.

6.

Agencies must refer all requests for legal advice, civil litigation services and commercial and conveyancing legal services to Crown Law. Crown Law will determine whether its officers can provide the required legal services. Agencies must not directly engage counsel or commercial legal services without the written agreement of Crown Law. Treasurer's Instruction 1118 deals specifically with the Procurement of Legal Services.

7.

The Government expects that all proposals to engage outside services will ensure that Tasmanian individuals and firms are given every opportunity to tender for the work. In particular, every effort must be made to ensure that the local market is aware of the contract.

8.

When a consultant or contractor is engaged, the agency manager of the service contract must ensure that the engagement process meets public sector probity standards, that value for money is obtained, that the work is appropriately quality assured and that separation of roles and responsibilities between the consultant or contractor and agency staff is maintained for the duration of the contract.