The Australasian Procurement and Construction Council (APCC) is the peak council for Australian and New Zealand government agencies with responsibilities relating to procurement, construction and asset and real property management. The APCC’s Australian members include, at the Commonwealth level, both the Department of Finance and the Department of Defence. A key part of the APCC’s role is to provide leadership in relation to procurement practices and to enhance the knowledge base of members.
In late June 2021, the APCC released the Public Sector Procurement Profession Role Statement and the Procurement Capability Framework. The release of these documents is a key step in implementing the APCC’s five year Procurement Capability and Workforce Development Strategy. The aim of the strategy is to establish a standardised level of requirements for procurement professionals that will apply in every Australian (and New Zealand) public sector jurisdiction. The Role Statement and Procurement Capability Framework will be able to be used to develop educational programs, for universities and both vocational and professional training bodies, assisting in the development of the necessary skilled workforce for the profession.
When discussing the launch of the Role Statement and Framework, and the reasons for the APCC’s drive to professionalise public sector procurement, Glenn Bain, the APCC’s Chair, referred to the more than 10,000 public servants who are directly employed in public sector procurement across Australia and New Zealand, and to the fact that in 2019/20 alone, the Commonwealth Government’s procurement contracts totalled approximately $54 billion. These statistics demonstrate the scale of public sector procurement in Australia and therefore why it is important that this task is undertaken by highly skilled professionals.1
Mr Bain highlighted that the investment in professionalising public sector procurement, in the manner contemplated by the Role Statement and Framework, will assist in strengthening Australia’s productivity over the longer term. This initiative will put in place the structures necessary to meet the Australian Council of Professions’ definition of a profession. That definition specifies a profession is “… a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others.”2
It is also hoped that this move to professionalise procurement will attract new people to the profession.
The Role Statement and Framework were developed following not only community and private sector consultation in Australia and New Zealand, but also consultation with international procurement professional bodies.
The Role Statement:
The Procurement Capability Framework is a comprehensive document that sets out the core procurement capabilities and business skills for the procurement profession and how these will be assessed. The Framework distinguishes between unique core procurement capabilities, on the one hand, and more general business related skills on the other. General business related skills are, like the core procurement capabilities, key requirements, but are not exclusive to the profession.
The Framework is divided into five main topics:
And, finally, the Framework contemplates that a list of relevant government-endorsed qualifications and certifications will be made available through the APCC.
By ensuring that the public sector procurement workforce is skilled and well qualified, the Commonwealth Government (and other governments) will have greater confidence that their procurement processes provide maximum value for money, accountability and transparency, serving the interests of its taxpayers. Accordingly, the APCC’s strategy is to be applauded, as it rightfully acknowledges the professionalism of officers working in a core public sector function.
Authors: Angela Flannery
1 See article in Government News
2 See Council of Professions’ definition of a profession
3 See page 5 of the Public Sector Professional Role Statement
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