Planning for probity

Understand key probity considerations when undertaking project procurement, what to include in a probity plan, and when to engage a probity advisor.

Probity in procurement

Probity refers to acting with integrity, fairness and honesty. In procurement, probity refers to maintaining the transparency of actions, equity, confidentiality, and managing conflicts of interest to ensure that procurement is conducted in a manner that is fair, equitable and defensible.

The Australian Government’s probity principles outline the guiding principles of probity in relation to procurement.

Regardless of a project’s size and complexity, the Ministerial Directions for Public Construction Procurement require TAFEs to:

  • conduct public construction procurement in a manner that is consistent with public sector values
  • treat tender participants (and potential tender participants) fairly and equitably, and avoid giving one tender participant an improper advantage over another
  • maintain the confidentiality of participants’ confidential information, including commercially sensitive information and intellectual property
  • ensure tender processes, negotiations, evaluation processes, and contract management processes are auditable, transparent and accountable, and
  • proactively identify and manage conflicts of interest, whether real, potential or perceived, appropriately and in accordance with applicable legal and policy requirements, including applicable Victorian public sector codes of conduct.

If the project is high-value, high-risk (HVHR) or has a value greater than $10m, you will need to prepare a probity plan, which will likely form an attachment to the project plan.

Further guidance on probity requirements is available.

Engaging a probity advisor

Depending on the size and complexity of the project, you may wish to consider engaging a probity advisor to assist in managing probity requirements.

Probity advisers are typically engaged to assist with complex, high-value or sensitive procurements.

More information on when to engage a probity advisor is available.

The benefits of engaging a probity advisor include:

  • pre-empting and proactively managing possible probity issues
  • helping to identify and address emerging probity issues and risks
  • ensuring procurement staff meet the highest standards
  • minimising the potential for complaints by having an independent third party monitor the procurement process
  • giving tenderers confidence in the integrity of the procurement process
  • providing an independent viewpoint
  • contributing to accountability and transparency of the procurement process
  • mitigating and reducing risk, and
  • ensuring procurement decisions are documented and defensible.

Further guidance on the benefits of engaging a probity advisor is available.

Developing a probity plan

A probity plan should be developed during the procurement planning process. A probity plan may cover some or all the following:

  • description of the procurement process
  • probity requirements and how they are being applied in this process
  • decision-making process for the procurement
  • probity tasks and steps
  • description and scope of probity practitioner services required
  • management of any conflicts of interest
  • security and confidentiality of information
  • communication with tenderers
  • procurement staff behaviour guidelines
  • record keeping
  • communication between the probity practitioner and the evaluation panel, and
  • written reports to be provided by the probity advisor including format, content and timing.

Key aspects of the probity plan may be subject to approvals within the project’s governance structure.

More information on planning for probity is available.