Transcript - Goods and services webinar, 5 August 2020

NSW Department of Education Goods and Services Presentation

Andrea Patrick - Chief Procurement Officer, NSW Department of Education

Andrea: I'm really pleased to say I've got two colleagues who've joined me today about busy in the background. Elizabeth Kerr is the Director of Category Management, who does look after your general goods and services, and Craig Frewin is Director of Contract Services - he manages a lot of the department wide as well as for whole of government contracts. So lots of expertise on today's session. So hopefully we will be able to answer all of your questions, failing that we will take them away and also publish the question and answers post this event. If we don't have the answers to hand for every question that is raised, or if we do run out of time and don't have chance to answer your question.

So the purpose of this webinar, we're very conscious as a large department. It can be very complex to understand how you can do business with the Department of Education, how to make contact and to understand the ways in which government do business. There are many ways in which we do source goods and services.

If you look at Australia in business in Australia, 98% of businesses in Australia are small and medium enterprises. I think small businesses make up about that 94%. So, there's large representation, but when we look at our contracts and how we spend it, doesn't always kind of match our spend profile. So we're really keen to increase our spend with SMEs and our provincial owned businesses.

We can only do that if you know more about us, understand better ways or how you can engage with us, as an organiaation. SMEs do generate a third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDR) so you’re critical and certainly post COVID. This is a real area that will support the recovery in terms of costs. The Australian economy has SMEs that employ almost 5 million people across Australia. So you a significant employer and obviously post COVID employment is a key challenge for New South Wales government to get people back in jobs. So the more we can engage and spend with SMEs and Aboriginal-owned businesses, the more we opportunity we have to get people back in employment. We also find working with SMEs and others and businesses is you work faster and more adaptable to change compared to larger more complex organisations.

Certainly in the education space, that's something we really want to optimise because, we really want to be the best education service, not just in Australia, but globally. We can only do that if we have fast adaptable suppliers working alongside us delivering innovative solutions to, your requirements and work. So we're really keen to kind of get, grabbing innovation and work alongside suppliers. Also the economic growth potential exists more so with SMEs and other as young businesses, we really want to support you to become more, larger players or have more equity in the market alongside the larger organisations and upon the Department's Strategic Plan up there on the slide for two reasons, one, it being the, it really gives you some insights about what the Department of Education's goals are, what our vision is, tells you a little bit about us when you respond to tenders or quotation processes that you really understand that and align your response to how you can support the department in achieving its vision, and its goals that the strategic plan is available on our internet. So please reach out, get familiar with it. Don't wait until you're responding to a tender, really get to know the department because that really will support and enhance any responses to requirements we issue to the market.

Okay, so a little bit about our size and complexity. The Department is obviously one of the largest education systems in Australia. We have over 850,000 students and it's a growing population. More and more students are coming into the education system. Obviously the student base, we're really looking at more equity in our teaching and more equity for our students as a lot of our students, English, isn't the first language. So it's something we're very mindful of, and something that is a key focus for the department to make sure all students have equity in their learning and that ability to reach the HSC and good outcomes throughout their education. We have over 120,000 staff teaching those students. I'm sorry, we don't have 120,000 stuff teaching the students. We have 120,000 staff and that's made up of those staff that teach the students, but also corporate office staff. They're the staff that support the schools in delivering the curriculum and the teaching throughout the school year, there's over 2,200 schools.

So technically what that means is the department is, we have over 2,200 businesses out there operating. So that does present us with challenges when suppliers are looking to engage with the department and certainly for SMEs and Aboriginal-owned businesses where you don't always have that capacity of staff that can individually reach out to schools. So hopefully today's session will help inform you, of how we can help and make that a little bit easier for you, to kind of touch lots of little businesses in a more efficient way.

We have almost 40,000 suppliers that has reduced significantly over the last 12 to 18 months with the introduction of P-cards. P-cards is a preferred payment option for the Department. It really enables schools for that low value type purchase to make a purchase in a very cost effective way. So it is something that the Department do encourage schools to use their P-Cards, and we encourage suppliers to accept P-Card payments. That's because for your cash flow, it gets the cash into your bank accounts very quickly. It's efficient way of payment and receiving your payments. It saves a lot of time having to chase all outstanding invoices because we're such a large complex organisation invoices when the centre schools to be processed can be lost in the school environment with, so many different complex issues come up in a school. It then has to find its way to the central corporate office to be paid, whether that's electronically or there's still some schools who may send that manually. So the chances of that being mislaid are relatively high. So PCards really take away all that kind of risk of non-payment on time, or on time payments. So please, if you're looking to do business been P-Card enabled really does increase, that opportunity to engage with the Department.

Our spend each year, it does fluctuate. The last year it has been close to four billion dollars and that four billion dollars is probably one of the highest spends in goods and services. A lot of that was a result of the COVID during from March to June at year end, because obviously there's an increase cost and spend with cleaning and over resources required to get schools operational remotely. So students the impact on the students, in their learning was minimal. And you, as you are aware, you, or you may be aware, we have quite a lot of policies and I suppose we wouldn't be government if we didn't have lots of policies, but that does add sometimes a little bit of complexity to a Department's procurement activities at the same time, there's some enabling policies and these are really focused on Aboriginal-owned businesses, SMEs, and really increasing, our sustainability agenda.

We're really keen to procure in a way that's more sustainable for the economy, the environment, but also more importantly, we're seeing a rise in the social value outcomes through our tender processes. We do have a provisional Procurement Policy for Goods and Services, and we have a separate one for Construction over the last 12 months we have been reviewing these across government and the view is to bring these two policies together ultimately at some point in the near future. These policies do have targets was to increase our business with Aboriginal-owned businesses. Education has worked hard over the last 12 months to try and, look at their tenders to try and make them a little bit more attractive to Aboriginal-owned businesses and SMEs. We've had some good success in some areas, our Office Supplies Contract, which is a Whole of Government arrangement. We for the first time, how that an Aboriginal supply Cultural Choice from the Central Coast, a successful on a Whole of Government tender, which was a great success story and credit to the hard work that organisation has put in to position themselves well, to be successful on that tender. We also have a Multimedia contracts where, out of 17 suppliers, 14 SMEs on a Whole Government contract. So again, great outcomes. That was through really spending a little bit of time trying to break up the contract, more manageable lots, which are a little bit more attractive for the smaller organisation. The Aboriginal policies do link in and feed into our Aboriginal Participation Strategy. We're just refreshing that for the new financial year. So that's available again on our, internet pages. And we all move in into having a little bit more we're having targets more at a department level rather than kind of shared responsibility across whole of government. So this will give departments a lot more direction and a lot more kind of based in really changed buying behaviour because we will have a target of the number of contracts we need to award to Aboriginal suppliers, as well as a percentage of our addressable spend that we're looking to spend with Aboriginal-owned businesses.

As I've mentioned, small, medium enterprises, again, a policy that really encourages when we go out for large tenders to have an evaluation criteria, we have a relatively, a significant percentage focused on how are we going to improve opportunities and outcomes for SMEs, whether that's direct engagement or throughout this supply chain with larger organisations and faster payment terms for small businesses is a policy that the Department has embraced. This is where small medium enterprises can be paid within five days. If you are a registered business with the small business commission. So again, if you're not registered, make sure you are because that will increase the term in which we make our payments to you.

Then, as I mentioned with sustainability, the government do have a Resource Efficiency Policy, which the Department does take seriously and will, be working on improving sustainable outcomes throughout our tenders and our contracts. We've broadened that more recently to really have a focus on social value, to get some good outcome, certainly for the more rural Aboriginal areas and the communities that exist in those areas. So, in terms of supporting the economic prosperity of businesses, there's a number of policies and these really allow, or kind of make our tendering and quotation processes a lot more simple for schools.

So in terms of the SME and regional procurement policy, we can do a dive at procurement for up to $250,000 in a single quote. It does mean that we still need to ensure that we're delivering value for money and that the quality of the goods and services still meets or exceeds our requirements. But it does really support schools 'cause schools generally do not have a high value type spending profiles. Over 90% of their individual transactions are less than $10,000 per transaction. So the policies that allow them to go direct to suppliers for up to $250,000 really simplifies the procurement for our schools, not having to seek out three quotations or follow a tender process up to 250,000. So that's for medium sized businesses. If you're a small business and the good thing. Now we're taking a little bit of complex tail to the definition of a small and medium business.

So small business, is just defined by the number of employees. So if you've got one to 19 employees, a school can direct lease, buy from you up to $50,000. And these figures all exclude GST. And when we go out for a larger tender, as I've mentioned previously, we do involve SMEs for procurements and they're for procurements are both three million dollars. So, and there aren't many contracts that don't go beyond three million dollars when we start looking, the Department wide requirements. So we do include a criteria that does assess the suppliers that engage in that process for good outcomes and engagement of SMEs. Then again, the other policy we have is an Innovation Policy, and that's where we're possibly looking at new ideas or innovative ways of delivering services and goods. There is the ability to engage in SME through a policy to one million dollars.

Again, that threshold increased from $250,000 about 12 months ago, and is a great opportunity to kind of do those innovative initiatives directly with SMEs. Then local schools and local decisions, but also more generally across government, there is a general exemption from any mandated Whole of Government contracts where schools and the department can directly purchase up to $10,000 to support SMEs. The only exception to that is the department do have a small number of contracts, which are mandated for schools. It's very rare we go outside that mandated contracts and they tend to be contracts that support our network. We kind of put lots of protection around cybersecurity, data privacy, and also we need all our schools talking to each other and to the corporate office. So it doesn't make sense to break up some of those contracts into smaller lots. We want a network that's really inclusive and collaborative across the whole department. And similar with the Aboriginal Procurement Policy, there is the ability for first consideration of, Aboriginal-owned business or $250,000 before proceeding to the market, the direct negotiation, where we can directly negotiate.

Again, it really does still have to demonstrate value for money and the ability to meet the specification of our goods and services. As I've mentioned, we have a Participation Strategy that was introduced last year, gives you the well kind of covered the Participation Strategy in a moment, but really gives you some kind of idea of the initiatives we're driving forward to our communications, our processes, and templates to try and encourage more engagement of Aboriginal businesses, and to change our buying behaviour across those 2,200 or so schools. I've already mentioned the payments five day payment terms and the use of P-Cards.

So the Aboriginal Participation Strategy, there's four key elements. One of are the Governance, and I've talked about the policy at a Whole of Government level. We've interpreted that policy to make it really relevant to the Department of Education. In our Procurement team, we have a key performance indicator that measures how well we kind of engage Aboriginal-owned businesses right through to contract awards. So it's a key performance indicator that we monitor and we set quite challenging targets around that performance indicator to really encourage and influence those budget holders to kind of include Aboriginal-owned businesses in their strategies and their engagement to deliver the required outcomes.

We carry out spend analysis just so we can see how we're doing in terms of spending with Aboriginal-owned businesses and make sure that the spend is increasing and we can take action as appropriate. In terms of processes as I've kind of gone through, we do allow, or the policy allows the department to spend directly with Aboriginal-owned businesses. It's $250,000, but as I've mentioned, we really do have a challenge sometimes, kind of communicating this message across the 2,200 schools. We're looking at ways of how we can improve that, communication and that engagement of schools, so that to make procurement really easy for them, but at the same time to have that great outcome and increasing spend for Aboriginal-owned businesses.

In terms of enablers, we are just going out to market for a new Source to Contract Solution. So that's the solution that facilitates all our tender processes and where suppliers are required to register in order to do business with the Department. So, and our constellation can be a little bit clunky for words of a better phrase in terms of suppliers registering and making themselves known to the Department. So one of our key drivers in the new solution is really making that more simplified process, a more engaging process. We're looking for our system to join up with other systems within the central government, the New South Wales government, New South Wales buy so the suppliers only have to enter their data once. We're also working as a government, we have supplier nation and have been for a number of months to get access to their data and their resources. So we can incorporate data on, what Aboriginal-owned businesses we have in New South Wales, so that we can do an API, which, I don't claim to be a technical person, but is a means of feeding in their Supply Nation data directly into our systems and our intranet so that it makes it easy for schools and corporate offices to find the Aboriginal businesses that will be a real positive step forward to kind of get that messaging and that information out, to colleagues across the Department.

We also have an online catalogue and these catalogue directives once we've secured a contract for the schools, we facilitate the buying through an online catalogue, and we have the capability of tagging Aboriginal suppliers as well as Aboriginal products. So we do utilise that to really promote those when schools do assert that they come out, at the top. So to try and influence that buying behaviour. Then in terms of implementation, we've recently introduced a Yammer group, which is arm internal mechanism of a kind of social network. It really makes it easy to chat to schools rather than the formality of filling in a form. We'll go to a shared service, telephone call. We, use that to kind of push our messaging in a conversational way. The messaging is really kind of looking to improve in terms of the great outcomes we can achieve through engaging more visual suppliers and talking about the social value and some of the case studies that really evidence for every dollar invested in an Aboriginal-owned business.

The return on that investment can be, three or four times the value of that dollar. They are the messages we're keen to get out to our schools and events like this we're really keen to show the, to kind of share the stories and the information about what we're doing. We also welcome feedback from suppliers about what else we could do. We do take onboard the feedback and assess how we can address or meet the requirements and the great ideas that sometimes come from suppliers themselves.

So in terms of our spend, and I did talk about the four billion spend, and this is broken down over the last 12 months or so, into corporate spend. This tends to be the corporate centrally led tenders that my team manage, as you can see, and it shouldn't come as any great surprise Construction is the majority of our spend. We've invested heavily in the last two, three years, and we've got another two, three years ahead of us, where we are building and refurbishing a lot of our schools across the state. There is also the facilities management and again, spend has increased significantly in this space. The Premier made a commitment around 12 months ago around the maintenance and the outstanding historic maintenance in schools. So there was a concerted effort to bring all the schools up to speed and to kind of address the backlog in terms of the Facilities Management and the maintenance of schools. That was achieved last financial year. Going forward, there is a commitment to keep on top of the maintenance of schools is still a big investment in that space going forward.

Human Resources, this is the kind of temporary staff that we engage in. This is to kind of backfill positions during recruitment, or whilst we're recruiting for new positions, or when we engage in a new project and we need to increase our capacity at short notice to achieve the outcomes of projects. ICT spend, we're not going to touch on too much today because a significant part of our spend at a corporate level in terms of our network infrastructure. We will be doing a session as I've mentioned earlier, later on the year, focusing in that category of spend. Relatively, a good spread in terms of educational, specific Travel and Transport, Office Supplies and Services, Professional Services, Marketing, and Advertising, Career Services, information Services and Fleet Management. That's probably the chunk we're talking about today. And why don't we go to the school spend you see a little bit of a shift in those, in the spread of the spend education specific spend. And we'll talk a little bit about that kind of increases as does the Office Supplies and Services.

ICT at a local level, again, is a significant area. Facilities Management stays there, as a significant spend. Then some of the areas that are quite large at corporate level, such as the Human Resources, the Construction and Professional Services tends to be significantly less in schools. As you can see, it's the kind of mapping changes, whether you look through a school's lens, or the corporate office lens. So some useful information and links, how we buy goods and services first and foremost, the Whole of Government arrangements are the go to place for the department. This is where across government, we collaborate and aggregate requirements in order to get, good value, good outcomes for government, but at the same time at a level of consistency in terms of what we buy across government, but also for suppliers to make it easier for you to understand how we do business.

There is those central government arrangements and the link there takes you to the government's kind of website. You can have a look at what arrangements already exist, and if there's any upcoming news on the new arrangements or doing business with government, that's where you'll find that information. We then have a department contracts, so based on our spend analysis we determine what contracts the Department will need and many of those, kind of may do a selective tender from a government arrangement. Some of those are open tenders that are issued through our tendering system. If you want to know, if we already have a contract in place the links there, that takes you about, takes you to details of all our contracts with disclosed. If there is already a contract in place for the goods and services you actually do provide, , take note of when the contract's due to expire. Just so you're aware of when you should start planning for the next tender, making sure you tend to ready, make sure you've registered on our tender system or the Whole of Government tender system, because both our tenders have advertised through the New South Wales tender system. Make sure you've selected the categories of goods and products that you do supply to make sure you get the relevant notifications of upcoming arrangements.

Local schools, local decisions, this is where schools do have accountability or capacity to make their own decisions around purchasing. So if there isn't a Whole of Government arrangement and there isn't a Department contract schools can decide how aware they do purchase. So there's a lot of locals, small purchasing type decisions. Now, as you can imagine, the capacity in schools, what we don't want is hundreds of suppliers canvassing schools, but it doesn't mean to say, you can't reach out to your local school. If you're a small business, kind of just to test the water, see if there is interest in the goods and services that you're looking to provide, but once the schools kind of informed you, yes there is or no there isn't, is possibly not to keep kind of canvasing the school. Certainly don't canvas them for products where a Whole of Government or Department mandated contract is in place as they won't be able to purchase out, or it's very unlikely, there'll be able to purchase outside that arrangement.

As I've mentioned, there is the tender system and there's that link there for any upcoming tenders covers all agencies across New South Wales government. So you won't just get notifications of tenders that are coming from education, whether it's Health, Transport, wherever the tenders coming from, you will get a notification so it really broadens your exposure to what activity and procurement activity there is across the State and it's worth noting as well. But registering on a prequalification scheme does not guarantee an order or any business. It does make your business visible to the purchasing agencies, but realistically, it doesn't kind of mean you will definitely get an order. So you may still need to do a little bit of follow up, and marketing, and engagement to raise the profile that you are registered or on a prequel scheme.

As I've mentioned, Department of Education is integrating the Supply Nation and social trader supply data into their internet. That's really kind of ensuring that, we've got the greatest exposure of your organisations across our network of schools and corporate offices, to make it easy for buyers to find what businesses exist and hopefully to change that and influence their buying behaviour to do more purchasing. A few top tips and I'm sure many of these, will be familiar with you. But I talked about the strategic plan of the department, which is on our internet pages. There's also a complete supplying tools section on our internet pages, which gives you great insights to how to do business with the Department.

What's important to us? When you respond to a tender or quotation, if you can demonstrate that you understand the Department and what we're trying to achieve, it really enhances your chances of obviously engaging and being successful in your tender. Obviously, with the caveat, you still have to be, have the capability and capacity to deliver the required goods and services. Understand how to do business with government agencies. I talked about the New South Wales Buy website, again, that's full of resources. Government agencies can be a little bit complex. It does feel a little bit, a lot, kind of lots of administrative type activities, whilst that is a complexity, we are doing our best to simplify our documentation, to kind of put word counts or page counts on responses to tenders. At the same time we are custodians of the public purse. So there has to be some complexity and due diligence to make sure that we are spending public money in an appropriate manner. So, we're not going to completely remove all the requirements, but there are areas where we can make templates and our documentation a lot more simpler than, what it is at times. Find out when contracts are due for a renewal if there is a contract in place it's rare that agencies will go outside their contracts. Obviously, the suppliers on those contracts have worked hard to win the business. So we do, we do like to honour those contracts in kind of aggregate and make sure we utilise, the candidate contracts we put in place, but it, just understand when it's coming up for renewal and look at the suppliers who already on that contract, do you research understand possibly what they're about, and we've engaged with them.

It's possibly, the kind of traits in the services and what they stand for, maybe what we're looking for, but obviously you don't replicate that still respond in your own individual unique way and draw out what qualities you have as an organization that kind of aligned to the department, or will benefit the department going forward. If there is supply briefings and agencies do try and do supply briefings around tenders and requirements, just to kind of do that face to face, or webinar in the current climate, and give opportunities to suppliers to ask questions. So if there is a supply briefing, if the tender documentation has been issued prior to the briefing, make sure you haven't have had a quick read through it, go prepared, ask questions. There's no such thing as a silly question, and there's no limit on how many questions you can ask. You've really got to use those supply briefings as much as you can, because you usually find you've got a lot of expertise present at the briefings who can answer many of the questions that then help support your thinking when you're responding to the tender.

Then in terms of the notices or the tender documentation, you are given a contact email address usually, of who you need to contact to kind of find out more information or to ask further clarification questions, again, as early as possible. I encourage you to utilise those contact details. If you're unsure of anything or want to clarify anything, rather than assume understanding, and then find that you've kind of misinterpreted something, you can always clarify the requirements through those processes. I encourage you to do so and answer all questions honestly, don't over specify what you can do. If there is a scope or a region that you can do very well, make that clear in the tender response, avoid leaving answers blank or answering no. So the examples I'm thinking of here is sometimes, if an agency or the Department asks for insurance, and perhaps we've asked for insurance of 10 million, but your current insurance policies, five million, instead of saying, “No, I don't have that level of insurance”. You could respond to say, “I don't have a 10 million at the moment, however, on successful appointment, or if I'm successful with the contract, I will increase my insurance to that level if required”. So if it's something you don't currently have, or don't currently do, give a commitment to say, this is a gap currently, but you commit to working with the Departments to close this gap. When we'll be evaluating your response, we can evaluate a response like that if it's left blank, or a blanket, no, we can't evaluate that kind of answer.

The other thing is, many tenders do encourage alternate bids. So if you receive a tender and you think actually, there's a different way of achieving the same outcome or the better outcome, but not in the way the tender has prescribed or kind of requested a response you can do what's called an alternate bid. You still need to do a response to the requirement that's been issued, but you can also put your alternate bid in, which can be evaluated if you've submitted an initial bid. So, again we encourage that. That's a real example of how we can get great innovation from the market that possibly we haven't thought of. We do welcome alternate bids through our tender processes and, always request feedback. That's whether you're successful or not, because although you're successful on one tender, it doesn't mean to say that you will on another. So it's always useful to get that feedback on, what, why were you successful? What did you do really well? But there'll still be areas where possibly it could be improved, or they could be different circumstances where it may have warranted a different response. So I always seek that feedback.

If you don't, kind of, if you're not successful on a tender with any given agency, whether it's the Department of Education or another one, please don't give up, get that feedback and apply the feedback into your next response. You will ultimately find, you will become successful hopefully with that improvement each time you respond.

So just to go through a few upcoming opportunities in the Goods and Services space, the first one is, we're just about to renew the Furniture Scheme for Education and the Department of Education lead on the Whole of Government scheme. So this isn't just for Education, this scheme is for all agencies in New South Wales Government. To give you a little bit of context, the spend at Whole of Government level each year is about $50 million. The Department of Education spend in the last year we're about half of that spend. So we're a significant user of the scheme and the tenders due to be issued by September, 2020. I'm hoping it's actually by the end of August, but with not knowing what's happening with the COVID, we do need to be mindful that some of the procurement resources is can quickly be diverted to emergency type sourcing, so I've put September.

If you are a provider of furniture, please make sure you are registered for this tender. The registration, see the link at the bottom of the screen there, the types of furniture we do buy is obviously, the general office furniture that all agencies tend to have, some form of requirement for, with corporate offices. Then the results will be school specific. Some of the school specific furniture is a combination of what we call core furniture, which is your kind of core desks and chairs that possibly were around when we went to school. Well, the school environment is changing as well, and there's a lot more kind of future focused learning type furniture that schools are now seeking to kind of change and the environment in which we learn.

We are spending a lot of time to try and make this tender Aboriginal-owned business and SME friendly. What do I mean by that? We're looking at the way the tenders structured, we're looking or halfway, sorry we have canvased and worked with suppliers currently on the current scheme, what's worked well, what hasn't, what could we do better? We've taken all that feedback and really applied it into the upcoming tender. So hopefully, we'll find there is an opportunity regardless of your size and location. If you're a provider of furniture. That's all these educational resources. This tender is due to be issued around April of next year, give or take a month. Our spend is approximately $35 million per annum. This was a new arrangement we put in place for the first time, two, three years ago. It was really aggregating the spend at a school level and making it easy for schools to purchase. So we make these resources available on our online catalogue. We're just in the process of finalising our spend analysis.

So the common types of products of arts and crafts, music supplies, learning aids, and STEM products. So, the analysis and the development of the Category Plan really impacts the current contract. It looks at what the market is looking like, and where there may be opportunities to possibly package the pocket products differently and unpacking the spend was approximately $35 million. We're just kind of have to test that out. Are there other products that the spend is increase that we want to include? So we've not kind of landed on the final scope of this tender, but it gives you a flavour of what will be included, in terms of the list of products there. We're looking at organising the tender into what we call “lots”, which is kind of smaller packages of requirements. So Aboriginal-owned businesses and SME friendly, you should find it, it's not kind of too overwhelming that you don't have the capacity to meet the whole requirements. Again, the link is to register for that tender at the bottom of the page.

Imaging devices, so when we talk about imaging devices, we're talking about multifunctional devices, multifunctional printers, we spend around $22 million each year on these devices. There's a few other little things in that tender as well. This tenders plan to be released before the end of this year. It does require, include the requirements for both all our schools and the corporate offices for the majority of the usage is by, our schools. Now, I've kind of put at the bottom there, both the link to register for this tender, but sometimes with the, multifunctional devices and multifunctional printers, we have tended to find these larger organisations that can deliver or have the capacity to deliver for the whole department. So if you are provider or supplier in this space, you may want to think about, a supply chain collaboration opportunity. That could be in two ways: you could be an SME that knows other SMEs in this space that you could collaborate to kind of get that, increased capacity to deliver to the department's requirements. Or secondly, the larger organisations you could be reaching out to them to say, look, I'm a regional based supplier, or I'm a small supplier is there an opportunity to kind of support the tender response or to have a back to back arrangement become a tier two supplier?

The reason why there's possibly more chance of that happening is referring back to the policies that we do, kind of including our tenders around SME engagement and Aboriginal-owned businesses that there is a participation plan that the larger organisations would have to fill in. So the more engagement and evidence they can demonstrate, the more it increases their chances of success on the larger tenders. So, we'd like to think some of the policies do kind of support those conversations in the supply chain.

Then the online learning tools, during COVID, there was you'll be aware, the way we delivered learning changed significantly very fast. Students were having to learn at home and access resources online, and really evidence that some of the online learning tools in schools, we could actually increase and improve. So we, previously it was just maths that we had on my learning tool. We have got a tender now going to market in September to extend that. All the key learning areas are listed on the right hand side of your screen to get greater and increased access to more online learning tools. This will be a panel where schools can kind of dip in and easily with an appropriate supplier to provide these tools. There's no previous spend baseline for this tender because it's a relatively new area. We don't have those kind of low level insights at a school level. as I've said, a lot of this has been under what we call local schools, local decisions previously, but we do believe there's a big appetite that we did evidence and see the benefits during COVID that all the schools are saying, we like this, and we want more of this for the school environment, whether or not students are working or learning from home, or in the school. So again, a tender and the registration is the same link as previously advised.

I just want to quickly talk a little bit about, Modern Slavery Act 2018. This has been in, under Parliamentary discussion now for a number of months, obviously, delay due to the many disasters we've had over the last 12 months. We've have bushfires, drought, COVID, it's been quite a roller coaster year for government, and I'm sure a lot of businesses as well as the Department, but at some point we do believe the Act will be published in New South Wales. The Department has already started doing a lot of work to understand the impact of this act and what reasonable steps we need to take as an organization to make sure that our goods and services are not a product of modern slavery work practices. So some of you may already be involved in reporting because of the Commonwealth already have a Modern Slavery Act in place.

It is on the value of your turnovers to wherever you do have to do, all the level of reporting you need to do in this space. Regardless of reporting modern slavery, we just think it's an important issue we should be taken seriously. So we all working on materials, certainly aimed to SMEs and Aboriginal-owned businesses that will support you in terms of understanding your responsibilities as a supplier to the Department, in terms of modern slavery. We're also looking to partner with our suppliers. So we don't expect SMEs and Aboriginal-owned businesses to have everything in place, to have embedded processes or a great aware understanding. We expect a little bit of understanding or awareness, and we will work with you to increase, kind of mitigating modern slavery in your supply chain and goods and services. We're training our staff to be better informed throughout the tender processes and sourcing activities, and also join our contract management conversations. Modern slavery is becoming integral to those agendas and conversations. So as I say, you may be impacted if you source directly to the Department and we will work and partner with you. Secondly, if you, in a supply chain to a larger organisation, you may be required to report or support the reporting of a larger organization. That's just a little bit awareness. We are starting to put some materials on our internet site. Again, the supply tours section of our internet page is where you need to go and keep up to date with all the information in this space.

I just want to take the opportunity around COVID I've mentioned it a couple of times in the presentation, but really, during COVID we saw great engagement and great outcomes from a number of, Aboriginal-owned businesses and SMEs who were able to respond to the pandemic in a very fast and responsive manner that really helped the department as well as the whole of government mobilised very quickly to meet the needs of the PPE equipment, which were obviously became a global scares product, but in doing so, through the work of our supply network and the supply chain, New South Wales government did extremely well in terms of securing a lot of these products to keep our hospitals operational and open, and able to obviously address the pandemic, our education, New South Wales did remarkably well in terms of keeping students in school, getting them returned to school, minimising the impacts of the achievement of HSC exams. We couldn't have done that without our suppliers. So if any of you were involved in the, I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you, for the support and the great outcomes we achieved. What it also achieved was raising the profile of the capability of SMEs and Aboriginal-owned businesses across the department, across government and New South Wales government is keen to continue to support SMEs and Aboriginal-owned businesses, certainly to maximise job creation throughout the new financial year. Again, the website where you can keep up to date, because this isn't really an agency level initiative. This is more of a broader whole of government approach, but the website at the bottom of the screen is where you can keep up to date with kind of move down to the respond stage, which was, very responsive, a bit of a needed reaction we had to do what we have to do, to quickly secure a lot of critical products. We can't now, recovery, but you just turn on the TV hearing recovery kind of takes one step forward and three steps back, depending on which state you are, it could even be 10 steps back.

We understand the supply market and the supply chain risk a lot better than possibly what we did back in March. We've done a lot of work to mitigate risk of non-supply of critical products going forward. The reform agenda, across government is looking at increasing, possibly in some areas, the manufacturing of some of these products locally, and there's a lot of great initiatives going on, but again, a lot the information to keep informed of what's going on and how you can engage or in those processes is at the, by New South Wales website.

You'll be glad to hear that's enough of my voice. We're now going to move into the question and answer session.

Q&A with Andrea Patrick, Elizabeth Kerr and Craig Frewin

As I mentioned, I have colleagues, Elizabeth Kerr and Craig who are going to hopefully join me. I will just have a look at it. We do have a few questions that have been raised that I'll just start with.

So we've got a question about event management services and whether this falls under professional services or not? So I think I'll go over to Elizabeth for this one. Do you want to talk a little bit about event management?

Elizabeth Kerr: So yes, it does fall under Professional Services. It's really managed by the other Category team. Obviously, we're not running any events right now, other than virtually, but if you're interested in those, where they're advertised publicly, we do put them on the tenders.

Andrea Patrick: Okay, thanks, Elizabeth. Secondly, we've been asked if Schools Infrastructure New South Wales is part of our Department. So the Department of Education is the top level and we've in that Department we have a number of divisions. So the division where Procurement sits is the Corporate Operations Division and then we have the Schools Infrastructure New South Wales division. We do work closely with Paul Hannan and his team over at Schools Infrastructure, but they drive forward a lot of those capital project requirements. Again in the Q&A we can give you a contact. As I mentioned, we did do a session in June, on the Infrastructure or Construction, which is available on our internet pages as well, okay.

So rather than just providing percentage of SME, and Aboriginal participation in larger contracts, is there perhaps scope for the Department to establish pre-qualified panels of SME Aboriginal base business suppliers and make these available to major contracts on School Infrastructure projects yet? So, yeah, so all the Prequalification Schemes, New South Wales government, or New South Wales Procurement are going to be tagging SME and Aboriginal-owned businesses, and all the pre-qual schemes. Schools Infrastructure have access to those. They are very keen as well to do more business with Aboriginal-owned businesses and SMEs. So think again, and they have the policy and their measurements in terms of engagement, whether through there, directly or as a tier two or tier three supplier. So they do are working closely with their tier one suppliers to make them more aware of the required outcomes from our policies. A lot of that is education and measurement post the award of the contract.

Can we clarify the difference between the direct procurement $250,000, and direct purchase limits of $50,000? Are these both available for small businesses? So the diamond procurement process limit, if you're an SME, is if you're a medium enterprise, which is 20 employees up to 199 employees, the limit for direct engagement is $250,000. If you a small business under the same policy, that's one to 19 employees. The 250 direct engagement is reduced to $50,000. However, if you're an Aboriginal-owned business, it's $250,000. So I hope that makes sense. Again, we will be issuing responses to these questions in writing post the event.

Will the slide deck be available for attendees? We're not sending out the slide deck, the will be a version of this recording available on our internet page. We have a transcript available as well for, to meet accessibility requirements. Please continue to submit the questions if there's still time, if you're online and there's something that you want to know make the most of having Craig and Elizabeth with me, because they're the ones who were, who certainly are close to the Goods and Services category.

With regards to architectural services, we've seen projects be broken into multiple tenders for each phase of work. Now architectural services does come under construction and it's quite a long question. We don't have Paul with us. It's not general Goods and Services. This falls into Infrastructure. I will take this question away or we will get a response and give it in writing to you as soon as it's available.

There seems to be a lot of science with has similar functionality. Tenders.nsw, buy.nsw but , is there a good place to understand how these all work together? The ProcurePoint is no longer functional that has moved to buy.nsw. buy.nsw is the new website on behalf of Whole of Government that has replaced ProcurePoint. So it's a new way of presenting the information, and tenders New South Wales is where you registered for tenders. So whilst by New South Wales is where all the general information is on all the government arrangements. The tenders is very much about where you do register. So what we will do in the, again, the Q&A response is actually give a definition and breakdown of those items.

So I'm going to go to Craig now, for a question around promotional products. So we have a promotional product supplier joining us today, pens, pencils, rulers, hats, lots of personalized items with school artwork. Does this go to tender or is it locally supplied? And how can the supply of each out to all the schools without being tagged as a spam, a spammer via email.

Craig Frewin: In general, a lot of the promotional material with either school logo on it, or a school name, or something that they want, it's usually a local decision. They often find supplies local to them. In return it... Sorry, in regards to, how would you reach out to New South Wales without becoming spam tagged? I think that's something, we would probably might come back on.

Andrea Patrick: That's great. I'll just stay with you, Craig, do you want to explain a little bit about the P-Card a supplier is asking where they can get to P-Card? But do you want to just talk a little bit about, how the P-Card works in practice?

Craig Frewin: There are couple of questions on P-Card that I can see. There’ the P-Card maximum spend by schools and how do we, what do we need to do to accept payments? Look, in general, the P-Card is a process that the Department has implemented for low value transactions, where supplies are paid immediately, that don’t have to go through the invoicing process and the payment terms and so on and so forth. So it's a good way for schools to pay for things quickly and for supplies to get paid quickly. In terms of suppliers having access to P-Cards, it's not something that, the Department issues for supplies is the one more for the schools to use to source product. But in terms of the process for a P-Card, I think we'll come back with the process on that, from an SME perspective or a supply perspective and engage a little bit that they connect and get some information on that.

Andrea Patrick: Thanks, Craig, we've got a question around supplier. Who's been working with the school for over 10 years and they hear complaints from schools that perhaps some of our contracts department wide or how the government aren't working for individual schools around the support received and knowledge in a variety of areas and so on. This supply missed out on the last contract for, a couple of reasons that they've now addressed and would they be considered for, to be added onto the current contracts, or for future engagement in tendering?

Now, fortunately don't know which contract you're referring to, but look, we have over 2,200 schools and we're not going to please all of them all of the time, what we're keen to do when we do establish contracts, we don't just do it for the sake of doing it. We do engage schools during the process. They come on board, they work with us. They tell us what they want, and what they need from the contract. That's what we go out to the market with. Sometimes schools, as a small, we've got small community schools, we've got large Metropolitan schools. So the breadth of needs does vary. Sometimes the Department has to make some tough decisions as well: What kind of level of service do we feel is appropriate support and maintenance levels? And, what do we need to incorporate into a tender to protect the schools, whether it's the schools themselves, the teachers, the students.

Sometimes things that we put in contracts to mitigate risk, aren't always fully understood by all schools. So, and we do know that school do develop good relationships with local suppliers. Some of the policies I did talk about do enable schools to kind of go outside some of the arrangements. There is a process that schools are aware of, and so depending on what contract it is, well, if you have failed or been unsuccessful in an arrangement that doesn't kind of blacklist you, for any future opportunity, if anything, I trust that you did take the opportunity to get feedback on the tender process and that you've used that feedback to then inform a future tender, kind of response because, and to improve the response to that, hopefully you are successful on the next occasion, but please do reapply. It doesn't prevent you from reapplying for future tenders.

Okay, so we have a supply of two way radios and approach schools on a local level. Is this the best approach or two way radios be something that goes to tender? So, Elizabeth, do you want to pick up the two way radios?

Elizabeth Kerr – Sure, I think I'm going to have to take this question on notice, to be honest, I haven't heard of any two way radio tenders at this stage, but I will check with my colleagues to confirm whether there we ever do go to market for this kind of equipment.

Andrea Patrick - Craig, you're not aware of two way radios being on any contract in terms of it--

Craig Frewin: I think what we'll do is we'll clarify, I have a funny feeling that the two way radios or portable speaker sound systems, similar to what you find in shopping centres I think one of the other reasons on a contract, but we'll find out and we'll come back.

Elizabeth Kerr: So potentially it's under the TPA, the Telecoms Purchasing Arrangement. It might be a category there that we just haven't utilised as yet, but yes, we'll take the risk confirm the quick, the answer to the question.

Andrea Patrick: Thanks, Elizabeth and the TPA details can be found on New South Wales by internet site. That's, we've provided the link for, and again, all these links in the description will be issued as part of the Q&A. So if you didn't capture the previously, the Q&A will give you details of all the links.

So we have a uniform supplier, and we'd like to know if there's a local item that each school does all different? So let me just, as a uniform supplier would like to know, if that is a local item that each school procures themselves? It is at the moment informs our local decision. Some schools kind of allow their PNC to manage that, other schools have a like a local shop of arrangement that they kind of facilitate. Then we have schools that do have their own uniform contracts, but they do get advertised in terms of the opportunities you usually in the local paper, they do have to follow a tender process for uniforms.

Okay, and I think that is all the questions, unless anyone wants to slip one in. Oh, well done! It's amazing when you, think you're coming to the end and we've just got two or three more summits, thanks to the crashes. That's what these sessions are all about.

So I'm a supply of playgrounds to schools and deal with the Asset Management Unit in these transactions is the AMU under the Corporate Division or the Schools Infrastructure Division. You are doing the right thing, anything to do structurally with schools around the playgrounds, or the kind of low maintenance, or big maintenance, or infrastructure is, should go through the AMU.

The AMU is part of Schools Infrastructure, which is part of the Department. So you reaching out to the right people in terms of what you're doing, a supplier side, just so we have an indigenous business for School Infrastructure New South Wales. Putting COVID-19 situation aside, has there been only been three tender opportunities over the past 18 months? How can I create more opportunities? Like we do have a colleague in Schools Infrastructure, Christine Yorkston, who actually is a go to point of contact for Aboriginal and SME suppliers. We will provide her contact details. As I've mentioned, this is General Goods and Services, not Infrastructure, but we will as part of the Q&A provide contact details so you can follow up with the right person in the Department.

A follow up question from our promotional product supplier, who has an email list of all New South Wales schools? Can you email the schools without spam? Look, as you can imagine, the Department as with any government agency is prone to spam, you will have seen in the news, our New South Wales Service Centre recently was spammed. So the risks, kind of software that we do have on our site that will call out spam. It will depend on the wording and your email as to whether or not it will get through to schools. The general canvassing of schools through email, isn't really encouraged, send an email possibly don't send numerous ones or I'll break it down. Where are you based perhaps start off, seeking out some engagement locally to where you are. Schools are a little bit like sheep sometimes you tend to find, if you break the ice with your local schools, they tend to spend that good message into their colleagues. They have admin staff in other schools and word of mouth to me is one of the best mechanisms for marketing. So, rather than just blanket emails, and you can imagine how many blanket emails we all receive. I'm not too sure whether they will hit the mark or wherever they will, can either go into the junk or just get dismissed. I know myself, I received nearly, between 20 and 30 emails from suppliers a day, I would love to have the time to respond to each of them personally.

Our responses, is rather than that individual is running sessions like this, where we can reach out to more suppliers, more effectively, and efficiently, but your emails, you can try it. It may be blocked. The blocking is based on the content, and what, you're asking the schools to do. And next question we have, Hey Craig, I'm going to pass this over to you. It's around tender two, seven, eight.

Craig Frewin: I think that was in response to the question--

Andrea Patrick; Okay, so it's not another. Right, what's his guidelines about how we can provide services around this? Is there any further guidelines, just on the back of that question.

Craig Frewin: If it didn't relate like 278, which is the Multimedia Contract, that contract is a mandated contract due to the network connectivity. There's very strict install guidelines that need to comply with the IT infrastructure. So at the moment that schools are obligated or mandated to use the multimedia contracts. So I'm not too sure if that answers the questions about whether we can provide the service outside the contract. It is a mandated contract.

Andrea Patrick: Okay, I've also been asked around, whether AMUs have different thresholds to goods and services? Yes, they do. Construction do have different thresholds. Again, we'll confirm those in the Q&A. So you're aware of the different thresholds they apply to, their activities compared to goods and services.

So our sporting goods and fitness equipment purchase locally, I'd also be interested in finding out about how to approach schools without being tagged as spam. Craig's, sporting and fitness sorting and equipment?

Craig Frewin: Sporting goods and equipment is currently a local decision. The Department does have some processes and suppliers that have got some engagement directly with schools, but locally it's a decision that they can source within their own communities if they wish.

Andrea Patrick: And again, as with anything, we do keep an eye on spend analysis and what the schools appetite for having contracts is. So we do liaise with the different principal associations, both at primary and secondary level. If this was an area that they felt we could aggregate and put in place a different way of doing business, we certainly will. There's also a lot of work. Keep me referring to the New South Wales by internet pages, because for the smaller business and for engaging with government as a whole, they're trying to make it easier to do business. When they establish a database or a way of getting a supply registration, we kind of look at how we can leverage off that, to save suppliers, having to enter their details more than once, or having to kind of reach out to schools, we tend to try and turn it on its head that schools know where to go automatically.

So okay, in terms of contacting the AMU offices, it'll be Christine Yorkston, I'll give you her contact details. She will advise on that.

In terms of being blacklisted, if you do send emails to schools, you will only get blacklisted if you continually kind of spam them. So, there is a lot of spyware out there and lots of tools that allow you to kind of repeatedly send emails, sending a genuine one off email and then respecting the response you receive or not continually emailing schools, you will not get blacklisted. It is raising awareness. You've just got to be mindful that schools are there to look after the students, to teach the students educational outcomes. So please respect that they might not have, time to respond to emails from suppliers. If you don't get a response, please don't be offended. Please don't keep contacting the school. It's just probable that they don't have a need, or they've already got their requirements sorted, for the immediate need.

Elizabeth Kerr: So in terms of skill security, CCTV, intruder alarm maintenance fall under, I really, I may have to take some notice. I could guess it's under the Whole of Government contract.

Andrea Patrick: There is a security contract that will provide some more information on that.

Elizabeth Kerr: Offline, yeah okay. I think we've covered.

Andrea Patrick: There's two more notices there. I think that contract again, when we were talking about 278, I think the person that made a comment is multimedia.

Elizabeth Kerr: And there's a last question there, is there EFSG use goods and services? It's a very old methodology and I think that's thing updated by the school's facility standard, but we'll come back to you on that as well.

Andrea Patrick: Yeah, okay, well, we're just coming up, to the last few minutes, so I'm just going to take the time... Oh, we'll just throw this last one in. So are music instruments and technology rentals considered a purchase? Can schools engage directly for this? And I think this comes under, the coming tender Elizabeth educational resources?

Elizabeth Kerr: Yeah, however, there won't be, that will be for purchases rather than rentals. So I mean, as a Department were not supposed to lease and I suppose rental renting is actually a sort of lease. So yeah, we thought we will be going to tender for educational resources and musical instruments will be a subset of that contract, right.

Andrea Patrick: Okay, so thanks for all your questions. Hopefully, everyone's found the session, useful, informative, we've tried to sign post you a little bit. We do appreciate it can sound a little bit complex with all the different links.

We will clarify those links in the Q&A as to so you can kind of sift through them, and see which are most appropriate to yourselves. We do suggest, the registration certainly on the tender system is the best way to find out what the upcoming tenders are. Not just for the Department of Education, but for all agencies across government. And again, thank you to suppliers who do support us without, our suppliers. We will obviously have the goods and services in place to support our schools and the education outcomes we strive to achieve and improve year on year. So thanks again, there will be the Q&A issued post this event.

There will be a version of this presentation on our website, along with a transcript and apologies for the technical issues. I do know people behind the scenes work so hard. We have so many technical tests, but on the day, things do happen that are outside our controls. Thanks for bearing with us. Whilst we got that sorted and hopefully everyone's enjoyed today's session. Have a great day.

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