In spending public money, you are subject to public scrutiny. Therefore, it's important that you exercise the highest levels of ethical behaviour. Ethical behaviour encompasses the concepts of:

  • honesty
  • integrity
  • probity
  • diligence
  • fairness
  • trust
  • respect.

The broad objectives of ethics and probity in procurement are to:

  • provide accountability
  • maintain integrity
  • ensure compliance with processes
  • ensure that all offers will be evaluated against the same criteria;
  • minimise potential conflicts
  • avoid the potential for misconduct, fraud and corruption.

For more information, read:

Communicating with offerors

Offerors are the people or organisations that submit an offer for consideration.

To ensure fairness and impartiality when communicating with offerors, follow these guidelines:

  • Material should be available to all interested parties within the same time frame, and each supplier should have access to the same material (that is not commercial in confidence).
  • Any additional information or clarification arising from individual supplier requests should be provided to all potential offerors so that they have the same information.
  • Where feasible, information should always be provided in writing. If discussions take place, you should document the minutes of the meeting and the content of any telephone conversations.
  • Nominate 1 contact point who manages the communications with suppliers. In significant purchases, the Procurement team will manage this. For smaller purchases, it could be someone senior to you.
  • Information obtained from suppliers must be treated confidentially. You can’t disclose information to a supplier that is from their competitor.

Managing conflicts of interest

UQ is a unique organisation in which conflicts of interest occur frequently.

Conflicts of interest are not wrong in themselves, but they should be:

  • properly identified
  • declared
  • effectively and transparently managed.

It is when a conflict of interest has been ignored or improperly acted on, or it has influenced actions or decision-making, that the conduct could be seen as misconduct or even corruption. For more information read the Conflict of Interest Policy [1.50.11].

Dealing with gift offers

If you’re involved in any aspect of a procurement process, you are strongly advised not to accept gifts or benefits. This is because they can be, or may be seen to be, a means of influence that can compromise, or appear to comprise, integrity and impartiality.

A gift or benefit may not be accepted or given if any of these principles apply:

  • it is intended to or is likely to cause the recipient to act in a partial manner in the course of their duties
  • it is not offered openly
  • it is an offer of money or readily convertible to money (for example, shares).

If a gift is offered, then acceptance must be in accordance with the Reportable Gifts Policy [9.10.05].

Conducting presentations or site visits

Either during market research or in the tendering process, you may wish to conduct a site visit or have the supplier present to you. You should make the opportunity to conduct presentations or site visits available either to all suppliers or to all suppliers who have been shortlisted.

In conducting presentations or site visits, the evaluation panel should gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the supplier’s offering or proposal that can’t be expressly written. An example would be viewing the supplier’s offered equipment in operation.

It is important that you provide suppliers with a set agenda and set time frame in advance, so that all suppliers are have equal opportunity and to avoid being exposed to unsolicited offers. You should take notes of the session, identifying:

  • who was in attendance
  • important details of the presentation or site visit
  • questions asked and answers given
  • any outstanding items that require further action.

Importance of record keeping

Good record keeping is essential to:

  • maintain accountability and transparency in the process
  • enable defence against complaints about the conduct of a procurement
  • provide information for future procurements, management investigations or legal action.

Under the Right to Information Act 2009, suppliers and members of the public are able to access records of procurement activities, including reasons for selection of a particular procurement method.

Therefore, it's important that you have a clear audit trail of all procurement transactions stored in a secure location. This trail includes:

  • the authority of the purchase request
  • the reasons behind selection of the procurement method
  • details of all offers obtained
  • the supplier evaluation criteria and reasons for supplier selection
  • records of all supplier communication such as clarifications and negotiations
  • the purchase order
  • evidence of receipt
  • evidence of payment.