Amending NTG policies, procedures and practices to strengthen the consideration of local benefit factors that occurs at agency planning stage
Under the end-to-end approach taken by the Buy Local Plan, the agency planning stage is crucial. It is during planning that potential local benefits are best identified, as NTG can then structure its procurement approach accordingly to most effectively utilise local industry, and realise those benefits. These include taking such measures as packaging procurement activities to be more accessible for small business, and encouraging partnering and subcontracting arrangements to utilise a local supply chain. It is also essential during the planning stage to broaden the lines of communication with industry and industry groups such as Industry Capability Network (ICN) - NT. The best source of market knowledge is often direct engagement with industry itself - it is not just about knowing which suppliers to approach.
Under the Buy Local Plan, the Procurement Directions and their supporting documents (templates, guidelines and fact sheets) have undergone some changes. Key changes include:
- strengthening existing requirements for agencies to consult with ICN-NT for awareness of market capabilities
- embedding practices to develop a more comprehensive market awareness amongst NTG procurement staff
- ensuring that the results of these market research and consultation activities are robustly justified and recorded
- ensuring early identification of local benefit opportunities, and that these are translated into appropriate, relevant tender evaluation questions
- publishing an annual list of agencies’ forecast procurement activities.
Access to an annual forecast of government procurement activity will provide greater certainty for industry, allowing businesses to invest with more confidence in skills and infrastructure. It is important, however, that industry recognise this forecasting information for what it is and that forecasts are subject to change.
The Northern Territory Government also recognises that strong industry engagement can foster a more collaborative approach to procurement planning, leading to a better outcome for both NTG and businesses. Equipping NTG staff with the skills to undertake this dialogue with industry forms a key focus of the capability development also occurring under the Buy Local Plan.