Secretary’s Review of Commonwealth Legal Services
In December 2015, the Australian Government tasked the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department to conduct a review of Commonwealth legal services. Mr David Borthwick AO PSM, was engaged to provide the Secretary with independent advice on the review.
The review looked at the Commonwealth legal services market as a whole and seeks to deliver the best outcomes for the government from the full array of legal services available. This included consideration of the role and scope of in-house legal practices in Commonwealth departments and agencies, and what elements of Commonwealth legal work should be sourced commercially.
Having regard to the role of the Attorney-General as First Law Officer, the size of Commonwealth legal spend, the diversity of the Commonwealth's legal needs, the Efficiency through Contestability Programme and the need for an efficient and proportionate framework for the sustainable delivery of effective legal services to and by the Commonwealth and its entities the Review is to examine and report on:
- The means for ensuring appropriately coordinated and aligned Commonwealth legal services that avoid duplication, identify and manage Commonwealth legal risks and take account of whole of government issues;
- The efficiency and effectiveness of legal branches of Commonwealth entities, including how in-house legal work is and should be organised and what elements of Commonwealth legal work should be competitively sourced;
- The appropriate mechanisms for the efficient procurement of external legal services by Commonwealth entities, including the Legal Services Multi-Use List;
- The appropriate role and scope of tied legal work;
- Potential improvements to the Legal Services Directions 2005;
- Possible savings to be brought forward in the 2016 Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook; and
- Any other relevant matter concerning the delivery, performance or cost of Commonwealth legal work.
The Secretary's Review will be completed by 30 June 2016.
Interest in the Secretary's Review of Commonwealth Legal Services is expected to come from a broad and diverse stakeholder base. As part of the review consultation process, two issues papers were released for comment.
The findings and recommendations of this report drew upon the expertise and experience of a diverse and highly engaged group of stakeholders across many Commonwealth entities and the legal services sector. It makes a number of wide ranging recommendations for improvements to the Commonwealth legal services framework. Further consultations will take place with stakeholders to give further consideration to some of these recommendations.