Probity and Procurement

Probity & Procurement

The Probity and Procurement Advisory arm of Stantons International offers services that are unique to an organisation of our size but which add valuable governance and stewardship capabilities for access by our public and private sector. Our established record in the provision of probity advisory support to all levels of government has established us a leader in the field, supporting complex and high value procurement projects.

In the context of conducting a complex or high-risk procurement activity, probity focusses on the processes of the procurement or contracting task. It asks the question, “is it fair to all concerned”. Probity support may be provided by a Probity Auditor, who reviews a procurement or contracting process at key milestones throughout the process or at the end of the process, to certify to the client that the process has followed the appropriate steps and has complied with the established and documented procurement policies and practices. A Probity Auditor does not necessarily need to be thoroughly versed in procurement and contracting knowledge to perform that task.

A Probity Advisor will be appointed to be an independent advisor to a procurement or contracting process lead team, advising on a continuous basis of potential probity risks, their treatment and management, along with dealing with specific issues as they arise and certifying at key milestones and at the conclusion of the procurement process that there is little likelihood that an aggrieved proponent will challenge the outcome of the process based on consideration of procedural fairness and sound governance. This is the role the Stantons International Probity and Procurement arm prefers to perform for our clients.

How can a Probity Advisor reduce risk, improve governance and potentially reduce costs of doing business? In an age where litigation is all too common and corporate reputational risk is in the minds’ of all directors, the engagement of a Probity Advisor can make a valuable contribution to reducing risk and enhancing governance processes. Probity is not a cost, but is a value-adding function. Our biggest direct saving has been through our role identifying and achieving a direct saving of over $10m for one project for one client. How can these savings be achieved:

  • Reducing the actual costs of the tendering or procurement processes through employing the most appropriate market testing methodologies.
  • Assisting in achieving a tendering outcome that provides a best value solution for the client that will not be challenged.
  • Reducing procurement risk through the role of the probity advisor and the use appropriate risk management techniques.
  • Ensuring the audit trail is maintained and fully documented.
  • Identifying potential problem areas before they develop into a major procurement issue.
  • Avoiding the need to abandon a high-cost process because of an irregularity in the process or the management of the issue.
  • Providing independent advice to decision-makers, including Boards and Executive groups as to the recommended course of action to resolve potential probity or governance issues.
  • Providing external stakeholders with confidence in the way in which a procurement activity is being conducted.
  • Providing tenderers with confidence that they are being treated in a fair and even handed manner.
  • Importantly, providing project team staff with an independent external party who is able to remove criticism and personal attacks from then staff who would normally have to manage such complaints.
  • Most importantly, we can contribute to the identification and reduction in the potential for fraud to occur in the procurement process.

What would be the typical scope of a probity advisory task? Typically, we would seek to be involved in the following stages of a tendering and contracting process:

  • The review of all procurement documents from a probity perspective to identify any areas of probity or process risk.
  • Where possible, the conduct of a probity risk workshop at the start of the process to develop a probity plan for the project.
  • Review of clarification questions and responses during the tender preparation period.
  • Where appropriate, attendance at the closing of the tender box and the opening and recording of proposals.
  • Contributing to the development of the evaluation plan and the evaluation handbook and guidelines.
  • Attendance at Evaluation Panel meetings and the final consensus scoring meeting to ensure due process has been followed.
  • The provision of a Probity Certificate to the approving authority at the end of each stage of a single or multi-stage tendering process.
  • The management of ad-hoc enquiries from proponents during the tender and evaluation process.
  • The management of a conflict of interest register and the maintenance of a register of confidentiality undertakings.
  • Oversight of any clarification questions or presentations that may be offered to proponents before shortlisting.
  • Provision of support for any negotiation process leading to the final contract.
  • Participate in the debriefing of unsuccessful proponents.