Government agencies are expected to consider commissioning and contestability in their efforts to improve service delivery. They must also provide Cabinet and the Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) with confidence that all service delivery policy and funding proposals have been developed in line with the NSW Government's Commissioning and Contestability Policy framework.

Commissioning and Contestability Policy framework

The NSW Government's Commissioning and Contestability Policy (TPP 16-05) establishes a whole-of-government approach to delivering better service outcomes for NSW citizens. It creates a clear and consistent policy direction and set of principles to guide NSW Government agencies in commissioning and contesting services. The policy defines commissioning (see page 7) and contestability (see page 8) as follows:

Commissioning Contestability

'An approach to considering the outcomes that need to be achieved, and designing, implementing and managing a system to deliver these outcomes in the most effective way. It leverages the strengths of the public sector and where appropriate, involves private and non-government organisations and individuals to transform outcomes for customers.'

'The process of evaluating and benchmarking services against credible alternatives and/or marketing testing in order to drive productivity, learning and development.'

The NSW Government Commissioning and Contestability Practice Guide supports this policy helping  practitioners apply the commissioning and contestability approaches set out in the policy framework. The guide reflects contemporary practice and is updated as needed.

The framework applies to all NSW Government agencies which use it when they are:

  • developing new service delivery policies and proposals, or when service delivery policies undergo significant review
  • undertaking portfolio or service delivery reviews
  • commissioning and contesting services that will impact annual and mid-year budget submissions
  • engaging in strategic planning and whole-of-agency or cross-agency organisational redesign
  • executing major contracts that bind the NSW Government for long periods, to ensure these contracts are as contestable as possible
  • determining service continuity arrangements before major contracts end, particularly when the contract or industry is being affected by technological or other innovations.

Commissioning NSW

NSW Treasury established Commissioning NSW (previously Commissioning and Contestability Unit (CCU)) as a centre of excellence focused on implementing a whole-of-government approach to commissioning. Commissioning NSW is responsible for ensuring agencies adhere to the requirements set out in the NSW Government Commissioning and Contestability Policy, providing expert advice and support to help agencies embed commissioning as a new way of doing business. Commissioning NSW maintains internal expert commissioning capability and partners with agencies to deliver, co-lead and lead commissioning and contestability projects. The unit also reports to the Government on the state of commissioning and contestability activity across the sector. Commissioning NSW’s role is dynamic and will evolve over time as commissioning capability develops across the sector and markets change, requiring a shift in response.