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News News DEWR cut corners in Work Choices campaign rush, report finds

The Work Choices advertising campaign was plagued by poor documentation and numerous breaches of financial management guidelines, according to a report by the Australian National Audit Office.

The report describes how advertising and PR agencies and printers were paid millions before contracts with DEWR (now DEEWR) had been executed. 

This was often because work had been subcontracted to third parties – in one case, DEWR only discovered work was being performed by an ad agency when it received a $46,000 invoice. 

Making the payments without the benefit of a written contract created significant risks for the Government, the ANAO says. 

"In such situations, the protections normally available to the Commonwealth, such as requiring specific performance by the contractor or applying sanctions, may be unavailable," it says. 

It also found that in many instances the department had commissioned work on the campaign without holding a proper competitive tendering process or properly documenting why a tender was successful, often breaching the government's own financial management framework. 

In correspondence with the ANAO, the department says it had "genuine difficulty in finalising contracts given the pace at which the workplace relations campaigns were driven by the [Ministerial Committee on Government Communications]". 

But it was "not evident that the circumstances were such that the urgency of securing delivery of services warranted the payment of millions of dollars to contractors in advance of formalising contractual arrangements," the ANAO says. 

reprinted from Workplace Express

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