Methodological Information - Qualifications in AusTender Contracts Reported Data
The following key points must be made about the AusTender data and Intermedium’s use of it. The federal government’s objective in maintaining the AusTender database is primarily to provide visibility of government contracting activity. It is not an accounting or financial management information system, and the level of quality assurance given to the data being entered into it varies from agency to agency.
AusTender has data quality issues which cannot be fully repaired or eliminated by Intermedium in its data extraction and analysis processes and therefore the reader should consider the data presented in this report as indicative. The data quality issues are:
- poor or generic descriptions of goods or services, such as “other services” or “equipment”
- use of jargon
- misreporting of values
- duplication of entries
- timeliness of publication
Despite these data quality issues, the significant volume and aggregate value of the contracts captured in the research leads Intermedium to believe that the issues do not affect the results to such a degree as to invalidate them. Intermedium has taken all reasonable care in compiling the results but cannot be responsible for any errors or omissions.
The nature of Intermedium’s remediation of the AusTender data, and its impact on the analysis is outlined below.
Results likely to be understated
Intermedium’s methodology is based on manual examination of entries and does not rely on AusTender contracts which have been incorrectly coded by agencies and therefore are at risk of being miscategorised. Entries which cannot be identified as IT or telecommunications-related with confidence are not included in Intermedium’s data.
Some inadequately described and/or miscoded entries which may be relevant may be excluded as a result. This is particularly likely where generic descriptions such as “equipment” or “services” are used, and where suppliers may not be exclusively focused on the field under study. In such cases, contracts are excluded unless there is clear identification. It is therefore likely that Intermedium results are understated.
Publication “lag” is also likely to contribute to understatement of results. It is possible that reporting for some smaller agencies may be erratic.
Lack of detail in contract description also leads to difficulties in categorising contracts with rigour. Where a contract cannot be categorised with confidence, it is classed as “Not Specified”. Because of the prevalence of “Not Specified” contracts across all category types, results are most accurate and useful at higher levels of granularity.
From previous research, Intermedium estimates that the volume of potential duplicated contracts could be between five and ten percent per annum. If so, this could inflate total contract values by two to five percent per annum.
Intermedium is able to cleanse its data of major contracts which appear to be duplicates by contacting the agency. Intermedium believes that duplicates which may exist for contracts under $500k do not materially affect the analysis.
Where an agency enters into a contract for ongoing supply of goods or services, such as multiyear outsourcing or licensing, AusTender requires publication of the estimated value of the head contract. The agency is not then required to publish actual expenditure against the head contract.
Head contracts are included in AusTender data for the date and financial year in which they are reported, as this is the only point at which this data is available. It should be noted that actual expenditure does not necessarily occur at this point, nor always match initial estimates of the contract value over the life of the contract.
Intermedium recognises growing technology convergence, particularly the integration of computing and telecommunications technologies, and both of these with military, scientific and technical systems. Due to the highly specialised nature of these markets, Intermedium has generally excluded military, scientific and technical systems unless these are significantly ICT-based – for example, tracking system software, computer hardware installed in command centres. From 2005-06, Intermedium has adopted the same approach as that used by the Department of Defence for categorising these types of goods and services, to provide greater consistency in this field.
Highly technical equipment such as electron microscopes or photo spectrometers, military and law enforcement radio communications, electronic components and security/access control systems have been excluded.
Equipment for radio/television broadcasting or audio/video production has also been excluded.
Intermedium disclaims all and any guarantees, undertakings and warranties, express or implied, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever, including incidental or consequential loss or damage, arising out of, or in connection with, any use of or reliance on the Content.
While the Content is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes to the source data upon which the Content is based after the date of the publication may occur.
Intermedium is not liable for the accuracy of any information extracted, compiled, manipulated, stored or printed by a User.