The Queensland Government has set about tackling some big ethical issues in its recently released document: Response to Integrity and Accountability in Queensland. However, a detailed assessment of this document also reveals some significant implications for ICT vendors.
The Queensland Government’s November report responds to the issues raised in its August discussion paper Integrity and Accountability in Queensland. The August report was published amid a background of public statements by corruption watchdog Tony Fitzgerald that Queensland was sliding into its "dark past". Fitzgerald further went on to outline an atmosphere where Government access can "now be purchased, patronage is dispensed, mates and supporters are appointed and retired politicians exploit their connections". At the same time Premier Anna Bligh described the success fees enjoyed by lobbyists as "obscene".
In August, Intermedium reported the stage was now set for major reform. The Government’s November paper is the outcome of extensive government consultations to address the significant loss of confidence created by public disclosures.
In its package, the Government announced a number of significant changes to government procurement:
- All contracts above $10 000 will be reported. The current $100 000 limit effectively cloaks many government purchases. Now with the limit lowered to $10 000, contract reporting will be brought into line with Commonwealth Government reporting. This will also enable independent reporting of the size and shape of the Queensland government market in a manner not previously achievable;
- All contracts above $10 million will need to be published. The aim will be to enable "transactions of particular significance [to be] subject to greater scrutiny by the public";
- The use of Probity Auditors will be mandated for "specified contracts over a set value"; and
- Government statutory bodies will be subject to the same procurement policy as government agencies. The Government will "review the application of State Procurement Policy with a view to applying consistent requirements across the public sector, including statutory bodies and other government entities.... where appropriate". The guiding principle will be that "the Government considers that the State Procurement Policy should be applied consistently across the public sector".
In addition, rules for the use of lobbyists will be significantly tightened:
- Lobbyist success fees will be banned by legislation. This means it will be illegal to pay a success fee for getting a meeting with a Minister or achieving any other outcome;
- A new legislative framework will be created for governing the lobbying industry; and
- All newly appointed public servants will need to declare if they have worked as a lobbyist in the last two years.
The Government is setting ambitious targets, with most initiatives planned to be in place by mid 2010.