As we reflect on the 2021–22 year, it has been another challenging one in terms of managing public health and supply chains during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Departments and agencies faced new challenges with changing supply conditions, inflationary pressures and managing these against fair and reasonable community expectations for procurement to achieve broader social outcomes. Procurement teams across the public sector continued to play a significant role, responding rapidly to deliver programs supporting the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
Against this background, it has been a busy year for the Victorian Government Purchasing Board (VGPB). The Board supported these teams with a new emergency procurement policy which replaces the previous critical incident procurement policy. The new policy brings together best practice and lessons learned over the past two years to better equip buyers to plan for procurements in response to an emergency.
Delivering our strategic priorities
I am pleased to report that we have made considerable progress in delivering our strategic priorities.
Following the expansion of the VGPB policy framework to a further 125 agencies from 1 July 2021, the VGPB has overseen a substantial program of engagement to support agencies to transition.
Expansion agencies range from large organisations with sophisticated procurement functions and policies largely aligned to VGPB policies, to very small organisations without dedicated procurement personnel. To support this large and diverse group of agencies, the Board oversaw an engagement program which mixed large-scale communications and information sessions with more targeted sector and size-based workshops and individual engagements and support.
A range of guidance material was prepared, including a model framework for smaller agencies to show how the supply policies can be scaled to organisations of different sizes. Throughout the year, the VGPB has been encouraged by the dedication of procurement professionals across the agencies working to deliver this transition.
The Board also worked on understanding barriers to fit-for-purpose procurement, which is particularly important given the changing context in which we are operating. To support this, the Board oversaw work to identify opportunities to simplify and streamline procurement for buyers and suppliers.
We started implementing some of this work by improving the to make it easier for buyers and suppliers to find policy information relevant to their needs. There is much more to be done, and this will be a key focus in the coming year.
Consistent with this, we have streamlined this year’s annual report, focusing on VGPB activities and case studies of good procurement across the public sector.
We are starting to see benefits from the new procurement spend data and analytics capability created by the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF). Regular reports on category data are helping to improve state purchase contract management and highlight opportunities for new arrangements. We now have around six years of data collected, classified and categorised across all departments and accredited agencies, which translates to 10.5 million transactions collated within the system.
In August 2021, we welcomed Peter Gluskie to the VGPB. Peter brings extensive technology procurement experience, which is an essential part of Victorian Government procurement strategies. In July 2022, Charleene Mundine will be appointed to the Board. Charlene is a Wehbal woman from the Western Bundjalung nation. Charlene brings a wealth of experience in procurement, social procurement and working with Aboriginal businesses.
I am excited that the Board has been able to secure such talented individuals in both Peter and Charleene.
I would like to express my thanks to departing Board member Seona James. Seona has been an integral member of the Board over the past three years and played a key role for the VGPB during the development and implementation of the Social Procurement Framework. We wish Seona all the best for the future.
We have undertaken a significant program to engage with our stakeholders over the year to build the recognition of procurement as a strategic lever to achieve government objectives. We used this as an opportunity to listen to stakeholder feedback and identify ways to streamline and simplify the procurement framework to create better quality procurement outcomes.
These engagements – and particularly our close relationships with chief procurement officers (CPOs) – have enabled a more meaningful dialogue to build a shared understanding of achievements, challenges and opportunities.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the team in DTF for their continued hard work and support. The team worked diligently during a challenging year to support the VGPB and deliver our strategic priorities.
Looking forward, we will continue to focus on supporting the expanded network of agencies, simplifying and streamlining procurement for buyers and suppliers, and supporting the Victorian Government to become a buyer of choice.
Chair, Victorian Government Purchasing Board
Reviewed 20 September 2022