We are hosting a series of events for buyers to provide information about Queensland Government procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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27 May 2020: Procurement update webinar for buyers session #2
This second webinar for buyers in the procurement update series provided information about:
- COVID-19 procurement response updates
- General Goods and Services and Building Construction and Maintenance category updates, and
- procurement into 2021 and capability training opportunities.
Welcome everyone to our second Buy Queensland webinar for government buyers and procurement professionals. Thanks for taking time out of your day to spend a few moments with us. I'd like to start by respectfully acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the land, on the many lands on which we meet and elders past, present and emerging. I'd also like to start today by saying thank you to all the buyers and procurement professionals right across the Queensland public sector who've continued to rise to the challenge and source much needed goods and services during this time. As we move forward during the COVID-19 situation, businesses right across Queensland will be looking to the government’s significant investment in procurement to support jobs and businesses. And this extends beyond the procurement of goods or services needed as part of the COVID-19 procurement response. Every procurement, even simple day to day purchases play a part in stimulating economic activity, right across Queensland.
Shortly I'll hand over to a number of speakers who'll tell you about some of the things that are happening across the public sector, but before we commence the formal proceedings today, I'd like to remind you of the pre event survey, which we sent out. Two questions were asked, how should we undertake procurement during the COVID-19 recovery phase? And, how do we plan for resilience and business continuity if a similar event ever happens again? If you didn't manage to complete the survey before this morning, could you please take a moment now to provide your input via the webinar chat function on the right hand side of the screen. We have staff monitoring your responses, which will be discussed later in the webinar.
Before handing over to our first speaker. I'd like to quickly provide you with some updates about things that have occurred since our last webinar in early May. Since that time we've released some further procurement advisory notices for buyers. Most recently, this is included one on assessing if a supply is critical to business and another on the financial and contractual strategies to support suppliers. These are latest additions to a suite of documents designed to help you during this time, please visit the ForGov website to find these resources.
As we move through responding to COVID-19, to the stage of building resilience, it's now more important than ever that government buyers continue to drive the Buy Queensland approach to procurement. You can do this by continuing to pursue local benefits wherever possible. The focus should be on support for local jobs, along with the use of local supply chains, manufacturers and other local businesses. Remembering that the Queensland procurement policy defines a local supplier as one who maintains a local workforce within 125-kilometre radius of where the goods or services is required. During this time, it is also essential that buyers look to source from their local areas in line with your agency's procedures, wherever possible. Inviting at least one regional and one Queensland supplier where possible, to quote or tender, continuing to process all valid tax invoices promptly to ensure that continuing cash flow to businesses.
As we all know, cash flow is king, particularly at this point in time. As government buyers, if we collectively drive these approaches to support local businesses and jobs, we'll be playing our part in building resilience in our local communities. You'll hear more about how to support local business and build resilience throughout the remainder of today's webinar. Now I'd like to hand over to Oscar Liviero, who is the Executive Director of the General Goods and Services Category. Oscar is here to talk to us about three key things to help during the General Goods and Services supply for COVID-19.
Thanks Sharon. Hi everyone. I'm Oscar Liviero. As Sharon said I'm the Executive Director for General Goods and Services. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I think it's best to say that COVID-19 has sent the world into a rapid uncontrolled spin, and we've all been living through it over the last few months. It's been unknown, unpredictable, and it's created fear in the community. Trying to understand the situation has been challenging for all of us. In General Goods and Service Category, it was important that we started to get a handle on the information and what goods and services were needed based on reality and facts, not a reaction based on COVID-19 fears and so forth. Today I want to talk to you about three things that have really sort of helped in that situation.
The first is we need to understand the situation. You've probably seen a number of articles in the newspaper about Personal Protective Equipment, otherwise referred to as PPE and hand sanitiser and other essential items. Our first challenge was trying to understand what PPE needs were, and exactly what they were so that we could start to look at the supply requirements attached to that. The onset of COVID-19 and the response really did show us the weaknesses in our supply chain. And they were experienced very quickly and they were exposed. If I had to concentrate on one thing that COVID showed us, it was that lead times were so impacted due to the high demand of products from competition in global markets. That was really quite a critical thing that we needed to work together. Also, we needed to do and make some responsive decisions based on real facts and that needed to be done so that we could help local manufacturing stand up to meet some of the gaps.
For those areas, what we did was we set up some local contracts and you're probably aware of the three local contracts we set up with hand sanitiser, so that we could meet the gaps between demand and supply. When looking at how we handled the situation and understanding the situation, it was really quite important that we understood the product specifications. And I can tell you now that in the last two months I've become an absolute professional in understanding what PPE requirements are. Did you know that there are so many different types of hand sanitizers with different levels of ethanol, PPE face masks, so many face masks, level twos, threes, and so forth. Really critical to understand that information before we moved forward, so understanding the situation is really quite an important and vital part of a crisis such as COVID-19.
The second point that I'd like to talk to you about is what have we learned? It's not what we've learned, it's what we continue to learn as well. I think one of the most important things is that we need to create a plan to allow us as buyers for government to be proactive rather than reactive during such a crisis. That is absolutely critical. Also, we need to start, and we have done so in this crisis, with COVID-19 to create an information system, that's able to gather information quickly and accurately. And I emphasise accurately because decisions that need to be made need to have accurate information to create the basis of good decision making. Also, and we've always done this in government, we've worked together across boundaries, in a situation such as COVID-19 we need to enhance that working across boundaries. It is important that we work as one unit. In COVID-19 it's been shown that as a whole-of-government, we can make quick commitments and decisions because we're competing in international markets, so as a whole, we have far more power than as an individual.
And it also allows us to respond to local manufacturing quickly and set those up to fill those gaps. The other thing that we've learned is there is a real need for a deeper understanding of the supply chain components. Now I mentioned delivery times previously, but one thing that really stood out as well was we need to understand where raw materials are sourced and where products are produced. It's very important that, because the lead times are affected by where products come from and they in turn affect supply. And then as I said, a minute ago, it's competing on a global market. And as you've seen with COVID, we have some real problems in that area. Also, what have we learned? We've learnt that we need to establish a consistent and a common approach for the use of PPE across the whole of government.
And when I say a consistent approach, it's based not on fears or a reaction, but on the environmental conditions and advice received from Queensland Health and medical experts, really quite critical. It's important that rather than just go out and buy PPE, that we use barriers where they're applicable and if you need masks use them, but use the correct mask. The other thing that I wanted to point out is that this journey has been incredibly fast, steep and rapid, and we've had to learn while running, we haven't stopped and we will continue to learn. And I would ask you all to contact me later, if you've got some learnings that you'd like to pass on, that I will include into the way we do business.
This third slide that I want to talk to or third point that I want to talk to you about is what I call the impact on business. COVID has put us into a tailspin as I've mentioned, but it's also important that we also remember that we still have to do normal everyday business with our business partners. These people, we have continuously done business with them and we will continue to do business. It's important as government buyers that we help them understand that there are new priorities and that there's a new way of doing business. They are affected as well as we are, and they’re doing things slightly different to the way we are. We just need to connect and make sure that we both understand that there are different ways of doing business. One of the things that I think we should do as professionals in procurement with government, with talking to our suppliers, is try and lessen the anxiety where possible.
Now how do we do that? It's not such a simple thing, but there are ways. Contractual obligations, have a look at the contracts and see if you can lessen the burden on our suppliers during these times. Remember they may have difficulties with staff just servicing their needs. And the other thing is their service offering may change slightly to meet the new environment. It doesn't mean they won't deliver what we need. It just means they'll do it slightly different. Also the other point about the impact on business is we need to do and continue to do business as usual.
It's important, we're government. We need to show the community that things are as normal as they can be during a crisis, such as COVID-19. We in the General Goods and Services have gone out to the market during that time, or we were in the market. And we just need to consider things and allow for the changing circumstances. I'd like you to consider allowing extra time if you've gone out or you're about to go out so that our suppliers have got more time to prepare and provide a submission that is meaningful to you and delivers what you'll want.
Also, you should consider possibly widening the supplier pool that you would have traditionally gone to, the risks that are associated with COVID-19 have shown us that we've got problems with international markets. Consider widening the pool with local markets wherever possible. The final point on the impact on business is really information. As procurement professionals, we require their suppliers to provide us with information on a regular basis. During these events, it's important that we try to lessen this burden on our suppliers. Why? As I said before, they may not have the people there or the quantity, but it's important that we let them know that we still require the information, but we may get it when things have returned to what is known as a more normal or the new norm. Identify where we can delay if we can, but still get the information as you require it.
Also, there might be opportunities to develop a smarter, not harder way of working with our suppliers. That's really the three points that I wanted to bring to your attention. But before doing that and handing back to Sharon, I'd like to say over the three points that I've discussed, the one word that I'd use to describe what we need to do in procurement in government, is to be flexible and introduce flexibility into the way we do business. Not only when we understand or how we determine what a situation is, be flexible because the traditional way of gathering information may not work under those circumstances, be flexible in our learnings and how we apply those. And of course be flexible with our suppliers. And remember, they're in as much hardship as we are and we're working together. Thank you and I'll hand you back to Sharon.
Thanks Oscar. I think anyone involved in the procurement of PPE or hand sanitisers knows much more about those products than they ever thought they possibly could, but just knowing our supply chains isn't enough anymore. We need to understand them to a depth that ensures we can future proof our procurement pathways in the event of further local, national or global disasters. Please think about this and how you can do this in your current role as buyers. I'd now like to hand over to Harry Venmans, who's the Executive Director of the Building, Construction and Maintenance Category. Harry is following a similar approach to Oscar and is here to talk to us about the three key things we need to know about the Building, Construction and Maintenance Category in the COVID-19 environment. Thanks Harry.
Hi, I'm Harry Venmans. I look after the Building Construction and Maintenance Category. This includes work on vertical infrastructure or buildings such as hospitals, schools, houses, correctional facilities also includes police, fire stations, ambulance stations, and courthouses. In 2018 and 2019, Queensland's Building and Construction industry employed around 240,000 people and contributed almost $46 billion to Queensland's economy. Out of that, the industry tells us that they'd like to know a lot sooner about our products, our projects, and the sooner that they know about them, it allows them to build project teams, undertake workforce planning, and manage cash flows, including loans and investments. The pipeline, the forward pipeline that we have was launched by the Honourable Mr Mick de Brenni, Minister of Housing and Public Works in August, 2019 at the Buy Queensland awards. And what it does is that pipeline at the moment, it includes something like $7.6 billion of spend, across 363 projects. At the moment there's roundabout $2.18 billion, or almost 30% of that pipeline is filled up with Building Construction and Maintenance Category works.
And like any whole-of-government system, that pipeline is only as good as the content that's in it. At the moment with the release of the COVID-19 fiscal and economic review, it's going to be released in September. That will provide the project detail to fill that pipeline up with work. In the interim though the Department of Housing and Public Works, and the Department of State Development, and the Coordinator General are all working together to identify potential building projects, construction projects, to be included in the economic stimulus package to help Queensland building industry recover quickly from the COVID-19 impacts. These activities will provide a continuous flow of government work to build industry confidence and encourage businesses to grow. It's all about creating jobs in a strong economy for thriving communities. How do businesses apply for some of this government work, the pre-qualification, the PQC system is the whole-of-government central register of pre-qualified building consultants and contractors.
This register helps government departments select suppliers for building works and for a building contractor, such as builder, they must be pre-qualified for work over $1 million. Or if it's a building consultant such as an architect or an engineer, they must be pre-qualified for commissions over $60,000 or if the commission is deemed to be a high risk. The aim of the PQC system is to streamline tendering processes, to reduce tendering costs for the client, and the consultant or contractor can then be matched to the contractor's capabilities with the services required. It reinforces the security of payment on our government building projects and ensures only contractors and consultants who meet a minimum standard get pre-qualified, and they are the ones that are eligible then to tender for certain Queensland Government building work. Recently the PQC team converted the application forms that used to be paper-based into a smart form, making the application process faster, simpler and more user friendly for industry.
That smart form is on the Business Queensland website. It also now includes specific mental health and suicide prevention questions to ensure we're working with suppliers who have a focus on the long-term mental health of their workforce. Once we've got those contractors on board, we then also monitor the contractor's performance. This has also been strengthened so that agencies can easily identify the best performing contractors whenever they develop a select tender list, a new scoring methodology includes performance star rankings, which highlight the best performing contractors with five stars, as well as those contractors that aren't performing as well in a one star report. So, what else have we been doing in terms of our response around COVID? The Building Construction and Maintenance team has published a category specific procurement information on the COVID-19 impacts for both industry suppliers and Government buyers to support the continuation of the Building, Construction and Maintenance procurement activities across government, as business as usual wherever possible.
This information includes guidance on communicating with suppliers, tendering timeframes, awarding multiple contracts to the same supplier, regional and remote packages and consideration of the non-price criteria. In addition to this, project managers and contract administrators are working with the government's Building, Construction and Maintenance contractors to minimise: non-essential travel, interactional construction and maintenance sites by undertaking meetings and inspections remotely, wherever possible, using a whole range of available technology. The other things that we're also doing is making sure that in terms of cash flow is being well supported by making payments as quickly as possible. We're also working collaboratively and proactively to deal with the issues on a case by case basis, if and when they arise, we find that's the best way to deal with these things. The pandemic impacts to date haven't been as severe within our category.
And so far, we know that there's some contractors out there that have advised of likely delays under the terms of their contracts. However, we haven't had a whole lot of requests for extensions of times, we've got some of those. And, in terms of whilst we've received notifications of requests or likely extensions, we haven't had a lot of specific requests where extensions have been asked. There have been some for specific material issues. So, I would be interested to hear from any of you that are involved with delivering building works at the moment, having encountered issues that are preventing your contractors from delivering your projects. Our biggest ongoing concern will be with the State Budget being delayed. It's the need to keep the pipeline of work, that forward pipeline topped up with jobs. And we are looking forward to the release of work packages in the very near future.
Just to recap and summarise, you can find the Forward Procurement Pipeline by going to the QTenders page on HPW web page. I find sometimes it's easier just to Google it, but when you go to the QTenders site, you'll also find that there's a helpful video on the website, that's worth a look at. Also, the PQC application smart form is now available on Business Queensland website. That makes it a lot easier for people to pre-qualify for doing work with Queensland Government. It's a lot faster, simpler and a more user-friendly experience. As you'll be aware with the Queensland Government, procurement's been progressively publishing a whole range of procurement advisory notices on the current emerging issues as the pandemic continues. Further announcements around the stimulus work packages will be released very soon and we've been working on that quite extensively. I'm happy to take any questions or to hear your thoughts on how we can continue to improve either the pipeline or the PQC and I'd like to thank you for your time today. I'll hand back to Sharon.
Thank you, Harry. Before moving on, I wanted to thank all of those people who've already submitted their questions through the webinar chat's function. Please keep them coming through. Now, we're going to shift gear and talk about you and your capability development. In our last webinar, we mentioned learning and development opportunities available for Government buyers. Your ability to broaden the skills and knowledge you possess pre-COVID-19 responding to COVID-19 and building resilience during the next phase of recovery is critical. With this in mind, I've asked Peter Lacey who's the Acting Executive Director of the Office of the Chief Advisor-Procurement to present on the capability uplift opportunities that are available to you. Thanks Peter.
Good morning, everyone. As Sharon said, my name is Peter Lacey and I'm currently Executive Director of the Office of the Chief Advisor-Procurement. Your capability development is important, and I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on the different options that are available to you from our certification programs through to our short courses. The Procurement Certification Program, combined with ongoing professional development is a vital enabler to quality procurement service delivery. The Queensland Government's whole-of-government learning and development program is called Skills2Procure. This program enables access to both the Procurement Certification Program and to that continuing professional development, which includes short courses in targeted skills areas. All upcoming procurement capability development opportunities will be communicated to you via three primary channels. The first is the Queensland landing page of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, who many of you will know is IPPA and their website.
The second is emails to nominated capability contacts in your agency. And the third is posts to the Queensland Government Yammer site ProQr that's P-R-O-Q-R. What's new PCP is a key strategy for effective delivery of high quality procurement services. It wasn't an option for us to suspend the delivery of your learning and development opportunities during the current health crisis, so as a result our providers and IPPA have worked closely with us to shift our delivery to an online format for all four courses in the Procurement Certification Programs suite. All of these courses have commenced successfully in this new format and we've resolved some minor settling in and connectivity hiccups that were experienced in the beginning. Also, we've scheduled the upcoming PCP offerings between now and December 2020. You can view the course offerings by going to that Queensland landing page on the IPPA website, just go to our ForGov website for more information about that.
Our delivery partner, IPPA, continues to routinely take all new registrations for all Procurement Certification Program courses. Our program provider will send the course links and guidance to each registered participant closer to the course commencement date. Suppliers on the learning and development panel for procurement short courses have also been busy developing content suitable for online delivery. One innovative approach being developed by ArcBlue, is to take a one-day face-to-face course and redesign it for delivery as a micro course via webinar. A micro-course is delivered in four sessions. Each session is two hours duration and it's delivered over four separate days. This approach has proven very successful and it's well suited to our current working environment. ArcBlue have a contract management short course coming up, starting on the 10th of June and finishing on the 18th of June. In this course, ArcBlue will provide a practical understanding of the methodologies, theories and techniques used to good effect by contract management professionals.
If you have your manager's approval to register for the course, open the link in this PowerPoint and register. In closing, remember the PCP, the Procurement Certification Program, combined with that ongoing continuing professional development, is a vital enabler to quality procurement service delivery. Together those things form part of Skills2Procure, the whole-of-government learning and development program, and they remain accessible to you via online delivery during the current health crisis. The new online delivery options covered today ensure that you can continue your procurement capability development through COVID-19. Thanks for joining us.
Thanks Peter. We're now entering the interactive part of today's webinar answering the question, what does procurement look like in 2021? It's a great question, that given that we're still moving through the COVID-19 recovery stage and learning as we go, we're keen to hear your views during this interactive session via the chat function. I'd now like to welcome back Oscar Liviero, who is here to share your thoughts on this topic.
Hi again, it's me. I missed you all. It's been a while since we've last spoke, as Sharon said, we've got a couple of questions that we put out there for you to respond to. The first one being, how should we undertake procurement during COVID-19 recovery phase? I thought about that long and hard, and I think the easiest response to that is we just buy stuff and we continue to buy stuff, but we've got some good feedback from some of the people out there and I appreciate it, and thank you. One response was we should continue to be flexible. As I mentioned, when I spoke earlier, flexibility seems to be the way to go during these difficult times. It's important that we don't stay rigid, but we could just keep moving around and fit to whatever the situation is. There are a couple of other comments, which I thought were very pertinent to how do we keep moving forward.
And that is we need to review our supply chain and get that deeper understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, and then start to apply remedies to those strengths and weakness, enforce the strengths and make sure the weaknesses are reduced to the lowest possible levels. Another good one was we need to expand the pool of suppliers, introducing local manufacturers and suppliers where possible. I think I mentioned that as well. That's a good way of continuing procurement right through the recovery phase. One thing that we should point out is that during this recovery phase, we need to make sure that we're stocked and that we're ready for any eventual outcome. And that is an outbreak or something like that. I'd also like to just point out, I've heard during conversations and so forth that as buyers, that we may be looking at this whole COVID-19 thing, being coming to an end, the recovery phase is not the end of COVID-19.
And I want to make that very clear. It's important that we continue to work towards strengthening ourselves. We need to make sure that we've got stock and that we're prepared, as I said, for any outbreak into the future, whether it's a regional outbreak or whether something happens here in the Southeast of Queensland, please remember the recovery stage isn't the end of COVID-19. It just means we're starting to rebuild and hopefully getting back to the new norm. Looking at the second question, and that is just going to flick over and read it for you. How do we plan resilience and business continuity in a similar event, if a similar event was to happen again? I got a response, I won't mention who it was, but it was a very good response. And that is that we should start to include a section on resilience and business continuity into the category strategy, not just for the category as a whole, but also for agencies so that we've got a resilience plan and continuity plan into that.
There were some other feedback that looks at planning. Well, what a surprise that we should plan for an event and be prepared. We should look ahead, start to include planning into our planning structure suppliers. Make sure that we understand not only our capabilities, but their capabilities. I think that's very vital because we both go through disruption during that time. Another suggestion that came through and I think is a very wise suggestion. We are prepared when it comes to disasters in Queensland and we do it exceptionally well as we've seen over many years, but as procurement specialists, the suggestions such as this suggests that maybe we need to do something on a pre-crisis procurement plan. In other words, we need to be ready even before the disaster occurs. When there's a cyclone we know when it's going to hit, COVID-19 caught us unaware, and we weren't aware of what the impacts were.
We need to prepare something so that we're activated before the event hits us. We need time to get the supply chain working for us. This pre-crisis procurement plan could have levels of activation depending on what level of infection occurs. We need to establish trigger points so that we know exactly when to go as far as when we need to order product and what product needs to be ordered. The last point that was brought to my attention from the feedback, and it was another good one, and that is spread the risk. It's important that we spread the risk of the supply chain during an event such as COVID-19, and I think spreading the risk doesn't mean we bring it all in internally, but where we can, I think that's an important thing that we should be doing, but it means we need to look at not using a single source.
For example, a lot of our PPE material comes from a single country. In the future we may need to spread that over a number of countries and also supplement that, or as much as we can use local manufacturing and internal suppliers so that we don't have the reliance, and that if something does happen, it gives us time to respond and react. I think there are some very good responses to the way those two questions were put forward and I thank you very much for contributing today. I'll sign off now and hand back to Sharon and in doing so I appreciate your time. I hope you've enjoyed it. Thank you.
Thanks so much, Oscar. There has been really interesting insights, that whole issue of risk and how do we diversify our supply chains and price that risk is really critical as we move forward. We understand about physical disasters. We're now learning about other sorts of disasters and the impact they have on procurement. The idea of preparing for that and being able to be flexible and understand what our risks might be in a much broader way, has been a big part of our lessons through this process. In closing today, you've been provided with an update on new procurement advisory notices, key things you need to know in the General Goods and Services, and Building Construction and Maintenance space, some learning and development opportunities and recommendations on how you can help contribute to building resilience in our local communities. We're also continuing to operate our dedicated COVID-19 procurement inbox and hotline, where you can raise any relevant queries.
Remember, there's no wrong door. Please, get in contact with us with whatever query and we'll make sure it gets to the right person. You can get in contact with the team via either the email at COVID19Procurement@hpw.qld.gov.au , at our hotline 1300 for procurement, which is 1300-367-268 Monday to Friday 9 to 5
In closing, remember the Buy Queensland approach is now more critical than ever. The role of government buyers during the COVID-19 emergencies is critical. Your role is critical. The decisions that you make every day from strategic sourcing through to low value purchases contributes to Queensland's ability to support vulnerable people, local businesses, and the economy, and preserve as many jobs as possible. Thanks again for your attendance today.
5 May 2020: Procurement update for buyers session #1
We held our first Buy Queensland procurement update webinar for buyers on 5 May 2020, providing information about:
- the COVID-19 procurement response
- emergency procurement procedures
- procurement advisory notices, and
- how buyers can provide vital support for businesses.
Sharon Baily: Welcome, everyone to our first webinar on procurement during COVID-19 for government buyers. My name is Sharon Bailey. I'm currently in the role of Chief Advisor Procurement for the Queensland Government. I'd like to begin today by acknowledging the traditional owners of the many lands on which we meet and I'm paying my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
We're focusing discussion today on procurement and some of the tools we've put in place to assist people during the COVID-19 crisis. We're also going let you know where you can find more information. We're asking you to ask questions during the webinar and we'll have a dedicated Q&A session at the end.
The current COVID-19 situation has indeed been extremely challenging, both for government buyers and for suppliers. I know that all of you have faced numerous challenges, not only changing what you do and how you do it, but also balancing personal and private commitments along with work. It's indeed a difficult time but hopefully this afternoon we'll be able to provide you with some assistance, at least in the workspace. We're also keen to hear of the significant challenges that suppliers are facing. We know that suppliers are experiencing fundamental impacts to their business operations. And that as a result, government buyers are needing to be quite understanding of those challenges.
Now more than ever, when we're undertaking procurement activities, the Queensland Government's Buy Queenslandapproach, needs to be used to support as many local jobs and businesses as possible. To assist government buyers in navigating during this time, dedicated channels of communication have been established. A mailbox and a 1300 number for COVID hotline. You as government buyers or your suppliers can use either channel to get in contact with us about any government procurement related matter, including things like difficulties in obtaining goods that are in high demand where existing supply chains are unable to supply, letting government know if a supplier has a product or a service that government needs, and communicating procurement related challenges during COVID-19.
We've had hundreds of questions submitted to us via these channels, and we've been able to help answer questions and connect government and buyers and suppliers. We've also had some great success in connecting buyers and suppliers to fill very particular supply chain gaps in the area of personal protective equipment. So of course, we're encouraging you to get in contact via either email, at the email you can see on the screen there or our hotline number, 1300 367 268 with the catchy for procurement tagline. They're manned between Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Our staff will assist you and if required, help direct your query to the right place. We operate on a No Wrong Door approach, meaning that any COVID-19 procurement related matter can be submitted to us and we'll do our best to help find the right place. Of course, this shouldn't replace your pre-existing internal agency processes. Please follow those in the first instance.
Your suppliers need your help so if you have a supplier who is looking for any sort of COVID-19 procurement related information, please encourage them to get in contact with us. So that you have an understanding of how this system works, once a query is received, our team will log the contact in our dedicated customer relationship management system, triage the query to determine the right course of action and close it out by either directly resolving the matter, by example responding with an answer to the query, or referring the matter to the relevant agency across government. We've got a vast range of contacts from across the sector to ensure things get to the right place.
Now that you understand how our COVID-19 channels are working, I'd like to invite Maree Adshead, the Queensland Government Small Business Champion from the Department of Employment Small Business and Training to talk to you about other support that's available for local businesses. Welcome, Maree.
Maree Adshead: Thanks so much, Sharon. I always welcome every opportunity I can possibly get to speak about the realities of small business with government decision makers. So, thank you very much for the invitation to join and be a part of this discussion today. Apart from some notable high profile exemptions, small businesses have been hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19, not telling you anything probably surprising there. The scale and the degree of that impact has varied across different industries depending upon what area of, essential or non-essential, your business happens to be in.
Governments all across our nation have been responding to try and minimise the impact of that economic devastation and the Queensland Government's own rescue package is now no doubt well known to all of you with $3 billion being dedicated to protect jobs and businesses. Being mindful of our 445,000 small businesses and their importance to our state economy, as you go about government procurement decision making is now even more important. Prior to this pandemic, approximately 970,000 people were employed by a small business, many of them youth. That's 45% of Queensland's private sector workforce. With more than 6,200 small businesses already been in contact with the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training contact centre, and more than 4400 have completed an online survey. Estimating their collective financial loss already is in the order of 1.5 billion, and that's just the ones we know about so far. These are all really, really big numbers too, and they're hard to fully absorb.
At the moment, their focus is on survival. And given that there's been some glimmers of hope in the Premier's announcements over the weekend, they're starting to see themselves as being on the road to recovery in some cases and depending on the industry. It's the small business community of Queensland that's going to really lead and drive our state's economic recovery. When I speak to small businesses, and I do that all the time in my role as the Small Business Champion, the underlying sentiment I hear from them is reasonably consistent. They just want to be valued, respected and treated by our state government as the economic workhorses that they really are.
So whenever the topic of doing business with government comes up in conversation with small business, it's often raised with me in the context of red tape. I chaired the Better Regulation Task Force and back in our first year in 2017, we made seven recommendations to Queensland Government, predominantly regulatory reform. One of those was a very strong and urgent plea from the small businesses that we were working with. Please aspire to be an exemplar buyer from us.
Don't make it so hard and so complicated that we can't sell our products and services to you because it costs more than it's worth in our time to put a complicated response to a tender together. If it's going to take a week to complete a tender submission, and we don't even know that our chances are all that great in the first place, it's fairly unappealing.
The vast majority of small businesses in Queensland, this is also a matter you need to be mindful of, they're micro businesses. And that means they're either a sole trader with no employees, or they're a small team of up to five people. When you're a sole trader or you've got a really tiny team, you're not going to have a dedicated contracts manager or a dedicated compliance manager. That responsibility is going to typically fall on the owner, who is navigating the procurement process alone, unsupported and with very limited experience of government and how all of that works. And that's not to reflect on their professionalism or the quality of their work, it's just the reality.
So what can Queensland Government buyers do to help? Pay on time, process an invoice as soon as you get it would be even better. Cash flow, as we've seen with the impact of COVID-19, it's the number one killer of small businesses, of any business to be honest. And economic studies all around the world are unequivocal, small businesses that are paid quickly pay their suppliers quickly, and the flow on effect is dramatic. Getting paid quickly helps businesses stay on top of their cash flow and keeps their staff employed.
I've been talking to a number of businesses who are going through the enrolment for JobKeeper experience, and I'll come to that support package in a moment. They're telling me that because the requirement to close due to COVID-19 restrictions in some cases came almost overnight, they didn't have time to prepare and haven't saved up enough to pay their payroll for March and April where they're getting no income. And that would be a real shame if we see those businesses opt out of JobKeeper because of cash flow. The Premier has asked all departments to ensure early payments to government suppliers.
Immediate payment of valid invoices from all suppliers will continue until the impact of COVID-19 eases, a really great initiative. The on-time payment policy, reducing payment terms for small businesses from the standard 30 days down to 20 days is on schedule to commence on the 1st of July, if the interim immediate payment policy hasn't been lifted by that time. You would have seen all the campaigns that have been aimed at encouraging consumers to shop local, spend local, shop small, buy local, buy from the bush, fill your esky and I really like they made it for Queensland, I think that's done a great job in showcasing the importance of the capacity that we already had here in Queensland.
But you guys are in a really extra fantastic position. Not only you can make a difference as a consumer, spending your own cash just like everyone else, but in your day jobs, you're also spending Queenslander's money and you've got an opportunity to apply that same thinking to the Queensland Government's $21.6 billion spend on the goods and services that it needs to operate the state.
I was at a winery, before COVID-19, and I was, I needed, it was very rustic situation and I wanted to duck into the bathroom, I had to go through the house and there was a young girl sitting on the couch, she would have been about nine, eight years old maybe, watching TV. And as I scooted through the house to get to the bathroom, she said to me, "Hey, did you buy any wine?" And I said, "I might, I will." And she said, "Yeah, 'cause dad said "if your bus load doesn't buy any wine, then I can't enroll for my soccer."
So I think it's really important to be mindful of the true impact that your purchasing decisions have on local families, on the local sports clubs that the local news agent, local IGA and local accountant or sponsor and on the social fabric of these communities. This is really important stuff. So understanding that government procurement processes are overwhelming to the inexperienced, so simplify it wherever possible. Inexperienced does not equal poor quality service or products. So don't judge a lack of polish too harshly. Small businesses don't equal, sorry, small does not equal greater risk. So, if you can avoid asking for insurance levels that are out of kilter with the service or the product that you're buying, then do. Probity doesn't mean you can't ask questions or clarify areas with a small business that appears to have made an obvious error in their submission.
I was talking to a company in Redlands which makes it's an alcohol testing device. They supply to every Queensland police, sorry every police around the country except for Queensland at that time. Now the reason they missed out, they're telling me, on the tender to do that was because there was a misunderstanding on the length of the tubing that needed to be part of the device. If they'd had an opportunity to clarify that they could make any size that you wanted, they would have been able to do that.
So I just think that there are sometimes examples where probity gets in the way of being able to clarify and enable a business to really sell themselves more properly. Help small businesses, be found by Queensland Government buyers. Let them know if there's industry capability networks that they can get onto and encourage them to register on the Queensland, on the Business Queensland website. So they can be identified in the payment systems as a small business and access those shorter payment times. I hear countless stories from businesses in regional parts of Queensland, where business opportunities could have been split up to enable local suppliers to do the job.
I was dealing with the Townsville City Council and they wanted some trucks to be arranged, I think they needed about eight, but there wasn't anybody, locally, that had eight trucks. Locally they could have put eight trucks together from a couple of different suppliers. But they ended up sourcing that business from Brisbane. It really makes no difference, whether the job is done by a few small players, but it really is worth the effort to break it up and create that opportunity. Every single chance you get to give a small business an opportunity to do business with government, will help build their experience and give their staff quality work to do. But it also puts cash into their bank accounts and enables them to give other small business operators hope for the long-term recovery.
Some of you are going to be on the front line dealing directly with small businesses affected by COVID-19. And I'm sure you already know there's a range of assistance and support packages being made available by the state government and the federal government. So I wanted to flag some of those with you, just so that you can see where they are at, never hurts to check. So here's some of the headlines of the Queensland Government's support. Here are the headline support packages available to Queensland businesses from the Australian Government. I won't go through all the details of these but there's some headline text there in the JobKeeper payment that I've mentioned. The boosting cash flow for employers, and that's proven to be already flying to businesses that I've been speaking to, instant asset write-off increase and there's a wage subsidy. There's other things as well, but they're the main ones for you to be aware of.
There's some hands-on support that's available as well through Queensland such as the Mentoring for Growth Program. It's under enormous demand at the moment, but I've been referring a lot of businesses to that and it's really been helpful in helping those businesses that have been in hibernation grapple with how they can re-emerge and deal with what I think is going to be really changed customer behaviours. Those mentors are available to provide tailored support including financial support, which I know is also working really well through the Small Business Financial Counselling Service. And I've been dealing with those guys in Townsville in the Flood Recovery Work, and they've been doing a fantastic job particularly with small business mental health. Because as you can probably understand, cash flow stresses is the number one cause for poor mental health.
So being able to upload your problems with a financial counsellor is a lifeline for so many businesses. Small and medium-sized businesses can access those workshops and learn about financial management and business planning is a program delivered by TAFE Queensland with webinars and practical tools to help businesses build resilience. All really good stuff for you to be aware of. So in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Queensland, CCIQ, the Queensland Government is encouraging the community to support small and share the innovative ways that they are adapting and surviving.
We know lots of communities across Queensland are rallying to support their local small businesses as they try and adjust to these new trading arrangements. We've heard stories of course of restaurants doing home delivery for the first time and creating takeaway. We want to share these success stories and we want to encourage others to do the same. By posting on your social media and using the hashtag #supportsmall. A lot of people have lost their jobs and they're on JobSeeker or JobKeeper, which for some is a lot less than their usual pay. So as you, as public service, members of the public service, you guys can play a really active role and being mindful consumers, shopping locally and actively choosing their services and products for your, from small businesses in your area for stuff that you need in the house, will also have a really positive impact.
There's some contact details there, the Business Queensland website's being updated daily, there's new announcements being made all the time to support small businesses through this period. There's also a really great small business assistance finder. It's a great way for a business to navigate what's available federally, through the state government and through local councils, it covers all of those different levels of response packages. Our small business sector is really critical to the economy, it accounts for 97% of Queensland businesses. So that's why it's really important that we need your support to get through this crisis. Keep our doors open, keep local employees in jobs. And I'm now going to stop, I think I've run a bit over time and I'm going to pass you back to Sharon. Thanks for having me.
Sharon Baily: Thanks so much Maree. And as Maree mentioned, there is just so much material available on the Business Queensland website. It's a fantastic resource and I know a number of our buyers have found it really useful when debriefing after tender processes as a way of providing unsuccessful businesses with some further support. So please have a look and see what you can use from that.
We know that many businesses require support at this particular point in time. I'm also are very aware that Queensland Government buyers are going to be critical to the government's, to the Queensland sectors' recovery from COVID-19. Your role is so important and we need to do everything we can to support you in that role. As part of that, we have been developing a whole range of procurement advice to assist people on a whole range of things such as emergency procurement and various questions that have come up in that context.
Today, I'm very glad to be able to welcome Megan Collins, one of our procurement gurus who's going to provide you with a little bit more advice about that. And I do note that we're receiving a lot of questions through the webinar and we'll be able to address those later. Thanks so much, Megan. If I can hand over to you.
Megan Collins: Hi, everyone. My name is Megan Collins, and I'm from the Office of the Chief Advisor, Procurement within the Department of Housing and Public Works. Today I'll be talking to you about the emergency procurement resources that are available to support you through the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 emergency has significantly disrupted the economy and jobs. Comparisons on the level of disruption are being drawn to the Great Depression and the Second World War. Following on from the wartime analogy, buyers are indeed in the trenches when it comes to making sure essential supply is maintained and keeping money flowing in the economy by continuing on with business as usual procurement.
The commitment to supporting local jobs through the Buy Queensland approach to procurement remains strong. Every day, procurement professionals, including buyers are dealing with disrupted supply chains, uncertain business environments, and emergency procurement needs to be met in short timeframes. As these issues can be daunting, and to support government buyers, the Office of the Chief Advisor has published emergency procurement resources. These resources align with the Queensland Procurement Policy and aim to provide practical, concise information on key considerations for buyers during the COVID-19 emergency. The main purpose of this presentation is to let you, as government buyers, know that these resources are available to help you procure in this current emergency.
As an overview, these resources are made up of two things. Firstly, the procuring during the COVID-19 emergency guidance. This guidance is designed to support your agency's existing emergency procurement procedures with particular emphasis on the unprecedented and potentially longer term nature of the emergency. Secondly, procurement advisory notices. These are quick reference guidance documents for buyers and suppliers focusing on key procurement issues. You can visit the forgov website to find these resources.
I'd like to start by talking about the procurement during the COVID-19 emergency guidance. It contains five objectives of procurement during the emergency, as well as practical tips about how buyers can manage procurement activities to maximise the use of local and regional suppliers. It also addresses potential supply issues and how to respond and contains a checklist to assist buyers during stages of emergency and recovery. This document also categorises emergency situations and the associated procurement response. Guidance is provided for categories which include the immediate response, sustained emergency relief and recovery response.
The objectives you should keep in mind to help frame your response during the emergency period include preserving life, safety and well-being, supporting local businesses, including regional businesses and manufacturers, increasing the use of small and medium enterprises and innovative proposals, observing principles of integrity, probity and accountability and lastly, maintaining confidence by continuing business as usual procurement as relevant.
I'm now going to talk about our Procurement Advisory Notices or PANs, as we call them. PANs have been published to complement the emergency guidance. They supplement key points in the procurement guidance, or respond to issues raised by agencies. Now we know you are time-pressured, so they are designed to be short, sharp and easily digestible, no more than one to two pages. They do not replace your agency's procurement procedures, but should complement them.
PANs are intended to cover key procurement considerations among national COVID-19 precautions and global responses. They range across the spectrum from practical procurement tips, like contract management and obligations, using electronic signatures on contracts, or vetting new suppliers through to reinforcing values, like maintaining ethical standards during COVID-19 or preventing fraud and corruption. And lastly, to be mindful of vulnerable groups. For example, considering people with disability. PANs will continue to be released and updated as the procurement environment changes. If you are experiencing a problem that you think should be addressed in a PAN or if you just need some advice, please reach out using the COVID-19 contact resources provided previously.
Before I finish up, there are some key messages that I want you to take away from today. Firstly, keep doing your due diligence. Vet supplies that government hasn't used before, especially if they are providing the supply of essential goods and services. You may have to approach it differently, but it still needs to be done. By now, agencies should have identified critical supplies and supply chains and be putting steps in place to keep the agency across the situation facing those suppliers. Look to your local and medium, small and medium enterprises and manufacturers and keep an open mind about innovative proposals or solutions from your existing and potentially new suppliers. Are standing off arrangements due to expire during the next six months or so? Think about extending these arrangements for a reasonable period beyond the declared state of emergency. Keep money flowing in the economy and the confidence of your existing suppliers by continuing business as usual procurement wherever you can. And keep acting with probity, integrity and accountability. These values do not change regardless of being in an emergency.
Be aware of profiteering, price gouging or anti-competitive behaviour. This is unacceptable behaviour from suppliers and you are encouraged to report it. The ethical supply mandate and the ethical supply threshold still apply. I'd now like to talk to you about some of the don'ts from that list on your screen. Now, the Queensland procurement policy is still in force, don't assume it doesn't apply. Don't forget to keep records. This will protect you if decisions are questioned later. Don't ignore internal controls or good procurement practice for expediency. This opens the door to fraud, corruption and waste of public money. An example is rushing a contract through without the right terms and conditions. Remember, your decision making could be questioned in a future review or audit.
Process your paperwork expeditiously. Don't sit on giving goods received approvals or other approvals that slow down the processing of payments to suppliers that have submitted correctly-rendered invoices. If you aren't sure of something, reach out for a second opinion, to a chief procurement officer, your central procurement team, category council or lead category agency, or of course, the COVID-19 procurement team. Be mindful that the COVID-19 environment is like nothing we've seen before, creating unexpected and unknown challenges for frontline staff, suppliers, the community and you. As a government buyer, you are in a unique position to do your bit to help.
In closing, emergency procurement resources are available to support government buyers during the COVID-19 emergency. These resources include emergency procurement guidance, rapid response procurement advisory notices and a dedicated COVID-19 procurement team. I also encourage you to register for the buyer e-newsletters that you will be, so that you will be notified of procurement updates throughout the COVID-19 emergency. You'll hear more about this later. If you have any further questions regarding procurement during the COVID-19 emergency, please contact the COVID-19 procurement team via email or telephone. Thank you for your time. I'll hand you back to Sharon now.
Sharon Baily: Thank you so much Megan. Megan and her team will continue to provide updates for buyers and suppliers as regularly as we can. So I encourage you to continue to check in on that website and submit questions. Speaking of questions, we now have time for a short Q&A session. Thanks to those who've been submitting questions while we've been going through the webinar. There'll be a further opportunity to ask questions following the webinar when there's a dedicated discussion. Peter Lacey is currently in the role of Executive Director Office of the Chief Advisor-Procurement is joining me for this section.
Peter Lacey: Thanks very much, Sharon. And thanks too again to those who've sent the questions in to us. We've had a couple of questions that relate to suppliers who might be experiencing their own stress in their business, and indeed have challenges with their own supply chains, and how procurement staff and contract managers should address those issues. There's obviously a wide range of issues that could be attached to that question.
I think certainly our objective is to keep the business of government going to maintain our services to those we're delivering the services to. And also to help maintain the coins on the economy. So I would ask you to be flexible and supportive as you approach suppliers in those circumstances. You've heard earlier today from our Small Business Champion about some of the opportunities that are available to businesses in those circumstances and perhaps you can guide suppliers in that sort of need to those resources.
If the supplier is experiencing issues with their own supply chain with a, perhaps having challenges sourcing raw materials, then by all means, approach the, suggest that they approach the 1300 COVID phone number, or the dedicated email address that we've spoken about today. And we can link those in to support from the Department of State Development. So there's some of the options, that call centre, that 1300 number and also that email address is probably a key source of information in those cases.
We've had another couple of questions that relate to how we can accelerate payments to suppliers. Government has a strategy already in place to accelerate those payments. In the sense that whilst traditionally we wait until the 30th day or the payment term day to make a payment to a supplier against an invoice, we're now processing those invoices as quickly as possible. For your part to accelerate those payments, it's simply about efficiently managing those invoices and payments through your local arrangements as soon as they reach the service provider for payment, those invoices will be paid. We've also had some questions that relate to electronic signatures, and indeed electronic approvals.
There is advice in the procurement advisory notices on this way in relation to this. But let me let me say this much, there are two sorts of contracts that we're familiar with. An ordinary contract which is an arrangement between two parties where two parties need to agree so that's the foundation of most of our procurement. And also deeds, which are basically one-sided contracts. For example, a deed of confidentiality, or indeed sometimes a deed of variation. The difference in these cases is that ordinary contracts can certainly be signed electronically, so you should have comfort in receiving those electronically signed documents. Deeds however at the moment can't be signed electronically. So particularly with deeds of variation, at the moment we require what's called wet signatures and witnesses for those documents. There are some alternatives, they're technical and you should seek advice from your own legal services areas in relation to that. And more advice will be coming from us centrally in relation to that. In terms of the digital approval process, that's also available to you but I would encourage you to seek advice from your own agencies processes as to what levels of comfort and process are being put in place for that.
The last couple of questions which I heard when I came into the room, the first was about how we can accelerate our approaches to market. Again, I'd draw your attention to the procurement advisory notices and the emergency procurement guidance. They call out four particular sorts of circumstances. One way you're dealing with an immediate response need, one way you're dealing with a sustained response need, one way you're dealing with recovery and finally, business as usual. There's guidance there in those procurement advisory notices around those four different circumstances that should be approached slightly differently. And please, I'd encourage you to look to those resources.
And finally, we had some questions in relation to continuing business as usual. I guess I'd like to highlight that government spend in procurement is significant and it's a significant contribution to the economy. And government certainly wants and needs us for the sake of the coins and economy to push on with business as usual, where that's practically possible. So please proceed with normal haste if you like, in terms of processing that business as usual. If you can't, please approach the market or your suppliers as soon as you can, and provide them with as clear and as early advice as you can, in terms of those changes to that business as usual practise. So they're the questions I had Sharon, do you have any further questions?
Sharon Baily:I don't at this stage. I know people have been keen to understand if there's anything further in regard to reporting requirements. There isn't anything additional at this stage, though I do know that occasionally, we'll be coming out to you and asking you questions.
Certainly I know we've been talking to a lot of you about personal protective equipment, and seeking further data from you on that. As part of our whole of government coordination role. So while there is no formal reporting that's changed, the current formal reporting is the same as it has always been, you may on occasion receive queries from us as we're seeking to understand some very particular supply chain issues. And we really appreciate your responsiveness in that context.
I can only say that to sum up, part of the, what we've been talking about is getting that balance right between being responsive in this current crisis environment, but also maintaining our accountability. So try to traverse that delicate balance. But I know that as procurement professionals, you're very experienced in that regard. I'd just really very much like to thank Peter for providing that further clarity to the group. I know we're running out of time today.
So in closing, I'd just like to thank all of you across government who are continuing to perform these vital roles at this time. I'd also like to leave you with the following key points that we'll need to put into action. That is that the Buy Queensland approach is now more critical than ever. The decisions you make every day, from strategic sourcing through the smaller purchases, will contribute to Queensland's ability to support vulnerable people, local suppliers and the economy and preserve as many jobs as possible. Buyers need to continue their business as usual procurement activities wherever possible so that we can continue to support jobs and businesses in all sectors and regions right across Queensland. In that regard, we're here to support you.
You can get in contact with us at any time via either the email or our hotline. Again, just a friendly reminder that the Procurement Certification Program, levels two to four remain available to registered participants and will continue to be accessible for delivery via the suppliers online platforms. Similarly, our Queensland Government training providers, Academy Global and Pro Leaders Academy will provide the registered participants with the needed details how to access their courses as part of their routine kickoff for the courses. New registrations can be taken by visiting the website of our delivery partners.
We're going to hold further webinars so do stay tuned. Please subscribe to the Queensland Government buyer mailing lists via the Buy Queensland website so that we can continue to get information out to you in the most timely way possible. I encourage you to join the online discussion forum straight after this session. You'll be sent an email with further information about how to join shortly. A COVID-19 email signature block is soon to be released, and I encourage you to use this when it becomes available. The discussion forum will be open till 3 p.m. Thursday the 7th of May, 2020. This is where you can ask questions and engage with other buyers on procurement during COVID-19. You can share your experiences and learn from each other. Thanks again to our presenters, Megan, Maree and Peter. I hope you've enjoyed this session today and found it useful. Thanks so much.
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- 15 June 2020