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Queensland Government releases its first Indigenous Procurement Policy (QIPP)…is your organisation ready to do it justice?

Queensland Government releases its first Indigenous Procurement Policy (QIPP)…is your organisation ready to do it justice?

Well well…

A year ago I put out a piece [link here] regarding the emergence of Government IPP. In that article I was discussing the Commonwealth’s IPP which was implemented in 2015 and is gathering some good momentum.

I mentioned the inevitability of the Commonwealth IPP cascading down to State & Territories, if for no other reason than the Federal Government every year transfers large chunks of money to State treasuries for State agencies to deliver capital works on national assets (highways and various other). It would be a little embarrassing saying you have a great IPP and then having large agencies around the country not employing the same principals when expending your funds…that wouldn’t look good.

So the QIPP has just been released in the last week. Bear in mind it is just a policy document. There is a huge amount of planning and implementation in something like this, also bearing in mind that it sits under the overarching QPP which was also recently re-released.

Here are my initial observations and thoughts:

  • The policy is owned by DATSIP (which is not a procurement function and thus will be advised by the Office of the Chief Advisor – Procurement on the whole-of-government approach). QIPP will involve a per – spending agency approach using a common Category Management model.
  • As with many “Indigenous targets” the future QIPP target of 3% Indigenous content is hinged around the 3% Indigenous population concept. Queensland government procurement historically has had Indigenous content hovering a little over 1%, so they have set themselves a decent target.
  • It suggest that government procurement functions will crank up identification of capable Indigenous businesses to inform Category Planning ie where possible government will go to market with Indigenous only tenders, where they are confident there is a market (capability and capacity). Knowing some of the “market intel” sources government procurement folk are going to be steered towards, it will be interesting to see how this goes.
  • While it’s only a policy document, there is a very important element that hasn’t been mentioned. By way of an example, just because there are known Indigenous civil works contractors out there doesn’t mean earthworks for a billion dollar highway will be all tendered their way. On big projects, pre-identification of Indigenous capability and capacity maaaaay see a few packages de-bundled for direct tendering to them, but more likely is that big projects will as usual be dominated by big tenders which for the most part will see large non-Indigenous contractors in the Tier 1 position.
  • So while it will be great to hopefully see Indigenous business having more opportunity to tender directly to government, in reality the greatest opportunity (and challenge) within the QIPP will be how non-Indigenous Tier 1 contractors go to market for their subcontractors. It’s in these lower Tiers and the sub-contracting world where the Indigenous figures could really be bolstered, and where Indigenous business capability and capacity can be built up over time towards Tier 1 level capability. But this important topic surrounding IPP performance by the big Tier 1s is not mentioned in the QIPP, whereas it is in the Commonwealth IPP.

All in all, it’s a start. As when any new government policy is released, good and bad things will happen in the market place…”black cladding” for example will ramp up, and there will be general teething problems.

There will likely be an upswing in registrations and activity on Supply Nation, BBF (the latter mentioned in the policy) and others similar. Unfortunately most of these internet hubs are more of a general registry than a comprehensive tool that rings the bells of contracts & procurement professionals, which is a shame….procurement folk (my background) love supplier research portals that have excellent functionality and level of detail laid out for easy scrutiny and comparison. Hello DATSIP! Hello Supply Nation!…I’m here to help.

Also in the QIPP is a Set Aside principal, which will be veeeery interesting, and not in the way many might be thinking. Have a look at this wording “…where the goods or services being purchased will be delivered to Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islander people in discrete locations, or in other locations that have a high Aboriginal population”. This means in the environment of Indigenous communities, and more specifically, Traditional Owner groups…which increasingly are gaining positive Native Title Determinations. Let’s think about that….

Set Aside may see a lot of non-mob indigenous businesses and non-mob Indigenous workers coming onto a mob’s country to deliver a project. Sometimes this has great results ie the principal that Indigenous owned business are stronger employers of Indigenous people.

But make no mistake, Traditional Owners (TOs) in my experience don’t care if an outside business and it’s staff coming on country are black, white or brindle…things can get niggly if proper cultural and participatory protocols aren’t followed. The endurance and tenacity of TOs can see them graciously cut some slack with white fellas who stumble around a bit and then learn to sharpen their act, but TOs can be uncompromising when non-mob black fellas rock up with “she’ll be right brother”.

Naturally, as I did with the Commonwealth IPP, I looked for reference to TOs of country where government spend will occur ie that means every dollar, in every scope and across the whole State. TO groups are increasingly interested in business. Whether with established businesses or not, will they be readily identifiable and somehow included within the QIPP processes and machinery? In both the Commonwealth IPP and QIPP, I’m perplexed with the lack of reference to this. Credit where credits due, for example the Dept. of Transport & Main Roads now entering ILUAs up in the Cape which will specifically address TO participation, but I do not understand why TO engagement and participation is not mentioned in all levels of government IPP.

If you are on the industry side of things:

Clearly momentum around Indigenous engagement and economic participation is ramping up, across multiple sectors. If you want to get ahead of the game and stay there, BlueSkyED can assist.

If you represent an Indigenous group:

For many it has been a hard slog and perhaps you are still focused on securing or governing your Native Title interests. BlueSkyED can help shortcut your journey towards economic development.