ANAO finds poor Contract Management in Government

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The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) released its audit report into the management of the Department of Home Affairs’ management of the civil maritime surveillance services contract (CMSC) late last year. The ANAO audit found that there have been excessive contract variations, significant cost increase, failure to meet contract performance requirements and poor contract management by the Department. This audit report clearly demonstrates some of the pitfalls of contract management in the public sector. As a result, the ANAO concluded that the management of the CMSC has not been effective, resulting in significant capability gaps.

The key themes that have come out in this ANAO report, yet again (as many others across the commonwealth have shown) is that there is no use having a performance management framework and a robust contract if the Commonwealth is not going to enforce it. Contract management is a distinct skillset and public servants need to be empowered and trusted to do their job with the resources they need to do this. Government needs to accept this and move into an environment where contract management is a job role, not an “add on” to other jobs and a consistently diminished function. This improvement will provide the Commonwealth with better contractual outcomes, and thus, enhanced Value for Money.

What is the good we can take out of this? Well for one, it hopefully will raise the profile not only of the need for qualified, trained, and empowered contract managers, but also for the role private industry can take to assist the Commonwealth to achieve objectives and facilitate this learning.

Astryx is very familiar with the barriers to effective contract management by government agencies. This first-hand experience has influenced the commercial advice we provide to ensure our clients are not only receiving the best advice they can get for their current contract but are also receiving ongoing knowledge sharing to ensure best practice can be embedded, furthering the value for money and capability outcomes Government seeks. Contact us if you’d like to find out more.

For more information on the ANAO report please see Management of the Civil Maritime Surveillance Services Contract | Australian National Audit Office (

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