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Financial management

We continue to maintain a strong focus on financial management, ensuring resources are utilised in the most efficient and effective manner to deliver the greatest benefit and impact for the Australian community.

Our financial results for 2016–17 are outlined in the financial statements. The operating loss for 2016–17 was $8.640 million and includes depreciation expense of $11.948 million, which is not funded by Government appropriations.

We maintained sufficient cash through the year to fund our operations. There are adequate funds held in the Official Public Account as undrawn appropriations, which will be used to pay employee entitlements and other liabilities as and when they fall due.

In 2016–17, we reported no significant non-compliance with finance law.

Purchaser–provider arrangements

During 2016–17, we purchased information technology services, management of enterprise resource planning services and a number of other administrative functions on a fee-for-service basis through a longstanding arrangement with the Department of Employment (as it is now known) under a Memorandum of Understanding. From 1 July to 30 November 2016, these services were provided by the Department of Employment and Department of Education & Training Shared Services Centre. From December 2016, information technology services and a number of other administrative services have been provided by the Department of Employment’s Technology Services Group.

On 1 December 2016, the Service Delivery Office was established within the Department of Finance and the responsibility for the management of enterprise resource planning services was transferred from the Shared Services Centre.

Procurement initiatives to support small and medium enterprises

We support small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market by:

  • reducing tendering burden through use of the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements under $200 000
  • adhering to the Commonwealth’s 30-day payment policy
  • engaging with small business organisations to increase understanding of each other’s offerings and needs
  • using credit cards to facilitate on-time payments.

Small and medium enterprises (SME) and small enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance website external-icon.png.

We recognise the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury website external-icon.png.

Procurement to support indigenous enterprises

The Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) commenced on 1 July 2015. We amended our procurement policy and practices to meet the new requirements.

A total of four contracts were awarded to indigenous suppliers during the year, totalling $263 978.


We engage consultants if we need specialist expertise or independent research, reviews or assessments to support our decision-making. Providers are selected through open tender, pre-qualified tenders, limited tender or an established panel arrangement.

The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related regulations, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and internal policies.

During 2016–17, 17 new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $976 187 (including GST). In addition, six ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $518 244.

Table 28: Consultancy contract spending
2016-17 2015-16 2014-15
Number of new consultancy contracts 17 8 19
Value $976 186 $588 953 $1 366 356

In 2016–17, we engaged additional consultants to improve our business intelligence processes and assist in the development of education resources. A greater focus on the use of intelligence to identify priority areas, refining our business model through contemporary educative practices and investing in our IT infrastructure and capabilities led to the increased need for specialist knowledge and a rise in the number and cost of consultancy contracts.

Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website external-icon.png.

There were no requests for exemption or exemptions given from publishing a contract on AusTender. All our contracts allow for the Auditor-General to access the contractor’s premises.


During 2016–17, the FWO administered the Community Based Employment Advisory Services (CBEAS) and Community Engagement Grants Program (CEGP). The CBEAS was a four-year program which was scheduled to conclude on 30 June 2016. Arrangements were made to extend that program until 31 December 2016 to enable the new CEGP to be established from 1 January 2017.

Information on grants awarded under the CBEAS and CEGP during 2016–17 is available on the FWO website.

Advertising and market research

Payments made to market research and media advertising organisations in 2016–17 are detailed in table 29.

Where the total amount paid to an organisation is less than $13 000, details have not been included, consistent with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

No advertising campaigns for which expenditure was greater than $250 000 were undertaken in 2016–17.

Table 29: Market research, direct mail and media advertising contracts over $13 000 in 2016–17
Organisation Service provided Total $ paid in 2016-17 (GST inclusive)
Media advertising organisations
Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Communication campaigns $47 000
Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Media advertising $51 354
Market research
Instinct and reason
$29 700
Multicultural Marketing and Management $44 957