Using external probity advisers and auditors on procurement projects should be the exception rather than the rule.
Engaging a probity adviser or auditor is not a substitute for good management practices, nor does it remove your accountability for how you conduct procurements or your procurement decisions.
Buyers retain accountability for their procurement decisions and ensuring probity in their procurement activities. You must ensure the procurement process and your conduct are always fair, ethical, transparent and probity rich.
The Procurement Policy Framework requires that agencies must, when engaging probity advisors or auditors, ensure the engagement will not create a real or perceived conflict of interest arising from this or other work being performed by the probity adviser or auditor. This includes ensuring the probity adviser/ auditor remains independent and objective by:
- not engaging the same probity advisers/auditors on an ongoing or serial basis over several related or unrelated issues
- not engaging auditors that are already engaged in other work within the agency except where the audits are linked or there are other mitigating circumstances.
Continuing to engage the same adviser or auditor can, at a minimum, create the perception that the agency’s (or business unit’s) relationship with the adviser/ auditor is not robustly independent.
Probity advisers and auditors should:
- have an appropriate level of knowledge and skill (including knowledge of relevant government policies)
- be independent and objective
- demonstrate professional competence and good judgment
- be of good character
- be willing to enter into a confidentiality agreement as part of their contract.