Attorney-General Robert McClelland today announced the delivery of further reforms to improve how the Commonwealth purchases its legal services.
For the first time, Commonwealth agencies tendering for legal work will utilise a common tender package.
“Introducing a common form tender package for all Commonwealth agencies will cut red tape. It streamlines the process for purchasing legal services to help reduce costs for both the private legal sector and the taxpayer,” Mr McClelland said.
Significant elements of the new package include:
- allowing smaller agencies to ‘piggy-back’ on tender panels established by larger agencies in the same portfolio; and
- removing ‘mini tenders’ for legal work valued at less than $80,000.
The reforms also require agencies to assess a firm’s pro bono commitment when evaluating legal services tenders.
“I recognise that many in the Australian legal profession already make a significant contribution to the community through their pro bono work. It is appropriate that such work is a relevant consideration when agencies purchase legal services,” Mr McClelland said.
This new requirement stands alongside the Rudd Government’s commitment to legal assistance programs, which exceeds $270 million a year.
The new tender package builds on reforms introduced earlier this year by the Rudd Government, providing for greater transparency in Commonwealth legal expenditure and delivering taxpayers value for money.
The earlier reforms included amendments to the Legal Services Directions that promote equal opportunity briefing practices, ensure providers who undertake pro bono legal work are not discriminated against, and promote the use of alternative dispute resolution in disputes involving Commonwealth agencies.
The Rudd Government is also continuing to work on further reforms to improve legal purchasing.
Further information about the reform package is available on the Office of Legal Services Coordination webpage at www.ag.gov.au/olsc.
Media contact: Adam Sims 0419 480 224