Pricing, procuring and contracting human services
An overview of DCJ’s standard practices for engaging service providers to deliver human services that meet the needs of individuals, families and communities in NSW.
How we contract service providers
DCJ enters into a funding agreement with a service provider following a successful procurement process.
We both sign a contract or other agreement that sets out the terms and conditions of the funding arrangement; and how the contracted amount will be paid, received, managed and acquitted.
DCJ uses funding agreements that are enforceable as contracts, because:
- contracts protect the interests of both parties by clearly stating the obligations of each party
- the contract outlines DCJ payment and service provider reporting requirements which:
- supports clear accountability in line with public expectations about the administration of public money
- provides rigour required for payments in advance
- clearly details service levels and quality requirements.
The type of funding agreement used depends on the value of the contract, its length, the type of service being delivered, the nature of the contracted organisation, and the outcomes to be achieved.
Program specifications form part of the contract
Our funding agreements are supplemented by program guidelines or specifications. These explain the purpose, parameters and deliverables of a funded program, and provide an overview of how the services are to be implemented, so that service providers understand their obligations for:
- service delivery activities
- required outcomes and performance measures
- performance reporting.
The contract requires compliance with the guidelines or specifications, and service providers are assessed against the specified performance measures.
Sometimes, funding is allocated for a specified purpose, project or activity that does not fall within an existing program and is not subject to specific program guidelines or specifications. In these cases, the contract itself includes the required activities and outcomes.
DCJ typically offers three or five year contracts for most of its funded human services programs, because:
- this supports the stability of service provision and better outcomes, allowing providers to engage in longer-term planning and embedding service provision models
- it aligns with NSW Government budget allocations
- it reduces the administrative burden for both us and our service providers.
We apply shorter or longer contract terms:
- where there are one-off, specific initiatives, with outcomes expected to be achieved within a short timeframe; for example, one year
- for trial and pilot programs and services, where outcomes will be reviewed within a shorter specified timeframe
- for complex programs and initiatives, where financial and social outcomes are expected to be achieved over a longer timeframe
- as part of reform implementation, where short-term contracts are entered into, to allow us to work in partnership with service providers to embed new initiatives.
Once a contract ends, the funding ends. If DCJ commits to further funding for a program or initiative, a procurement process and new contracts apply. In some circumstances, a contract may be extended, depending on the specific provisions in the contract.