Understanding Government Buyers

Five things all buyers must think about when buying.

1. Value for money

Value for money is the primary objective.  It is critical that you as a seller understand what value for money means, and you can show that what you are selling is value for money.


Value for money is not the lowest price or the best bargain. Value for money is all the benefits over the life cycle of what is being purchased, minus all the costs.


What you are selling can be the best on the market and the cheapest, but if the Government sees that it may fail or cost to adopt or maintain, your product may not be the best value for money.

2. Fair and open competition

Public servants must encourage competition through their buying. Importantly, they are specifically required to encourage new businesses, including small businesses, to compete for government work.


This objective gives your small business an opportunity to pitch for work.

3. Easy to do business

Public service buyers are told that they should:

  • Notify suppliers in advance of opportunities and give them time to prepare,
  • Make it easy for them to understand contractual terms and comply with them,
  • Pay small business suppliers promptly.

If you think your small business has missed out on an opportunity because it wasn’t notified or the opportunity was written in such a way that it made it impossible for your small business to win the work, please contact your State government.

4. Seek innovative products and services

Public servants are told not to just keep buying the same things, over and over. They are specifically encouraged to consider innovative options when buying goods or services.

5. Buying sustainably

Public servants are told to spend public money wisely. This means they should only buy only what they need and source sustainable alternatives wherever available.

Other rules applying to public servants buying

There are several rules, which all public servants must follow:

  • They must buy from whole-of-government contracts if available, although some exemptions apply.
  • They must have the authority to buy from you if they ask you to quote on supplying something.
  • They must select suppliers based on an evaluation criterion, not just pick who they like or the first supplier they think of.

The Supplier’s Code of Conduct also applies to buyers. When buying goods or services, public servants are required to:

  • Comply with applicable laws, regulations, policies and procedures.
  • Act with integrity and openness.
  • Demonstrate fairness and transparency in our dealings with individuals and organisations.
  • Disclose any perceived or real conflicts of interest.
  • Encourage fair and open competition while seeking value for money and innovative solutions.
  • Adopt procurement processes to make it easy to do business.
  • Publish details of contracts awarded as required by legislation.
  • Protect and prevent the release of commercial-in-confidence information.
  • Not seek, or accept, any financial or non-financial benefits from potential, current or past suppliers.
  • Respond to reasonable requests for advice and information, including tender debriefings.
  • Investigate complaints.

If you ever believe that a public servant has not complied with the Supplier’s Code of Conduct, you can make a complaint to your State Government’s Procurement Office.

Scroll to Top