ABC News online and TV reporting about Services Australia External Collection Agents (ECA) Request for Tender is misleading.
It is inaccurate to represent financial targets as the sole incentive for successful tenderers.
Services Australia tender documents make it clear that successful tenderers will be assessed against four key performance indicators of equal weighting:
- Service Levels and
- Internal Process.
Reporting fails to acknowledge that referral volumes will be based on providers’ performance in each component—not just financial.
Reporting also misleads the audience by implying that ECAs won’t be required to abide by the law: “Whether or not new external debt collectors break the law won’t be weighed as a factor in winning the contracts.”
Our original response made it clear that adherence to legislation is mandatory, which it why this component is not weighted. Failure to meet this requirement will result in cancellation of the contract.
Compliance with the ‘Debt collection guidelines for collectors and creditors’ developed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission is another mandatory requirement of the assessment process for this tender.
We are committed to providing a high-level of service to our customers in all our interactions.
We only use External Collection Agents in a small proportion of cases where a person is no longer receiving a social welfare payment and has not entered into or maintained a suitable recovery arrangement, or responded to contact from Services Australia. We also have checks in place to ensure people who are vulnerable or have complex needs are not referred.
The use of External Collection Agents is not new and is completely separate to the Income Compliance Program. The current request for tender process simply ensures we will continue to have a panel of ECAs in place to deliver these services when the current panel arrangement ends.