Of all the Commonwealth departments issuing Requests for Tender, Department of Defence is definitely the busiest, with the majority of opportunities within the Defence Estate Upgrade program. This program sees the refurbishment, upgrade and expansion of all Defence establishments across the country in a rolling schedule throughout the year. This year however this activity is set to increase, with the construction industry at the core of economic stimulation and government departments directed to bring planned activities forward. To that end Defence has issued a notice to advise industry that as of 7th August 2020, the Estate Works Program Tender Schedule has been updated to reflect this intention. The net result is an expected increase in projects to be released through the Estate Works Program over the coming years.
Similar to what has been issued in the past, this schedule will provide a forward look of anticipated Approaches to Market. This notice recognises the importance of enabling Defence Industry to plan and manage their workforce and resources in this current climate. As advised in previous posts, undertaking building/construction/civil works on Defence establishments comes with its nuances. Demonstrating an understanding of these can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful tender, so make sure you take these following points into account:
Security Access Requirements: Unlike most construction projects, Defence has stringent security requirements that need to be taken into account when considering schedules, site access and appropriate project staffing. Contractor access passes will need to be arranged to allow unescorted access on site for repetitive visits. At a minimum, staff would need to undertake police checks for receipt of a Contractor access pass. It also means material deliveries need to be planned in advance and access permissions obtained for delivery drivers.
Operational Requirements: Like most upgrades or refurbishments on large multi-purpose sites, building occupants need to continue operations either on site or nearby. Defence places high priority on its operational requirements, and all contracts will allow for this. As a tenderer, you need to be aware that this could introduce potential delays in construction work schedules at short notice and demonstrate awareness and the flexibility to manage this in your tender response.
Contracting Templates: Defence requires use of its own contracting templates as opposed to the Australian Standard templates. These contract templates can be found here. Most commonly used templates for Estate Works Program will be either the Minor or Medium Works templates and it is worthwhile to make yourself familiar with the format and requirements contained within ahead of time. Most RFTs will be single stage (ie no Expressions of Interest first), and will have about 25 days response time.
Federal Safety Commission (FSC) accreditation: For all companies intending to be Head Contractors on Defence projects (or any Australian government projects) with an anticipated project cost of greater than $4 million, you will require Building and Construction WHS accreditation by the FSC. Accreditation lasts three years and requires the submission of an application and a two day on-site audit of your WHS Management System. Note that if you are in the process of preparing a tender submission, the FSC will seek to prioritize the timing of your audit if possible. Further information is found at the FSC Website.
Indigenous procurement policy: This policy aims to grow the Indigenous business sector to which Defence as a department is the largest contributor. Mandatory minimum requirements will apply to any contract greater than $7.5 million. However, while not always mandatory, RFTs may still require you to outline your indigenous procurement policy and detail how you incorporate indigenous businesses in your company’s supply chain. So it is worth your while having an indigenous procurement plan in place especially for work undertaken in regional areas. Supply Nation is a register of verified indigenous businesses which can assist with ensuring your tender complies.
Building Code 2016: for all RFTs post 2 December 2016, compliance with Building Code 2016 will be a mandatory requirement. This also flows through to your subcontractors. Further details on the code’s application can be found here.