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New People Panel to fill APS skill shortages

by Cameron Sinclair •
Free resource

The Department of Finance is currently tendering for the first phase of a new ‘People Panel’ a coordinated procurement panel to fill APS skill shortages, scheduled to commence in July 2022.

A Request For Tender was issued for the first phase, “Recruitment and Search services” to fill permanent APS roles, on 6 December 2021 and closes on 14 February 2022.

Phase one does not include the provision of temporary and short term employment services, such as training, labour hire and contracting (including ICT services).

Use of the panel will be mandatory for all non-corporate Commonwealth entities (NCEs), like Defence and Home Affairs; and optional for corporate Commonwealth Entities (CCEs), and Commonwealth companies (CCs); Finance publishes a ‘Flipchart’ showing these distinctions for easy reference.

Finance is expecting a high level of interest in the new panel from experienced recruiters.

The Head Agreement sets out the basic scope of services to include screening and shortlisting, interviewing and verification, selection reporting, and candidate notification and debriefing.

In addition, agencies will also be able to make special requests to conduct cognitive, behavioural, and psychometric testing, and for neuro-diverse candidates to be included.

This is likely to significantly reduce the administrative workload on human resource functions across the Commonwealth.

Finance states that the new People Panel will standardise terms and conditions for the tender processes and fee structures, and reduce the time needed to prepare tenders and establish contracts.

The department is clear that it has no intention of negotiating on fees and urges applicants to tender their ‘best price.’

Successful panellists will receive a four-year term (July 2026), with an option to extend.

Addendum documents confirm that suppliers can be both the primary applicant and subcontract to other applicants; and that ‘a large number’ of APS roles are Canberra based.

The Department of Finance already manages a number of coordinated procurement panels, including consultancy and management advisory services – as well as for car rental and fleet leases, travel management, stationary and office supplies, and property.

The Digital Transformation Agency manages eleven ICT related marketplace and volume sourcing panels.

The announcement comes almost three years after Finance established an ‘Executive Search’ panel to recruit and vet candidates for government boards.

The Morrison Government has been criticised for an increasing reliance on outsourcing public service roles to temporary and short-term contractors.

The Senate Finance and Public Affairs (FPA) References Committee, chaired by NSW Labor Senator Tim Ayres (a former union secretary), released a report in November 2021 after conducting a 12-month inquiry into Australian Public Service (APS) capability. It recommended the “use of labour hire should only occur where it is not possible to engage non-ongoing staff directly.”

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