The ACT government has secured a new contractor to maintain its almost 11,000 public housing dwellings, two years after a damning audit into current contractor Spotless' poor maintenance record.
The contract is the territory government's single largest ongoing contract, worth some $48 million last year alone, with Housing Minister Yvette Berry assuring the city it will be more tightly managed than the Spotless.
Spotless had held the contract since 2005, but a report by the Auditor-General in late 2016 found the contractor had failed to properly oversee its own, and its subcontractors, work; also revealing a series of wider inadequacies in Spotless' work.
Despite the audit, the government renewed Spotless's contract for a further two years - set to expire on October 30 - as it went about undertaking a lengthy and detailed tender process to secure a new contractor.
While the government boosted the number of audits of Spotless work since the 2016 audit, the government hopes the new contractor will manage the properties better for tenants, as well as cost less than the current contractor.
Ms Berry on Friday said the government had chosen NSW-based Programmed Facility Management as the winner, with the firm to manage 11,800-odd public and community housing dwellings, Narrabundah Long Stay Park and Bimberi Youth Justice Centre for six years from November 1.
Ms Berry said in a statement the new contractor would also need to meet new targets to employ public housing tenants, people with disabilities, Indigenous residents and other culturally-diverse Canberrans, though neither the contract, nor the targets have yet been released publicly.
ACT Council of Social Service executive director Susan Helyar backed news of the new employment targets, saying it was a practical example of how the territory government could improve social outcomes for people facing employment barriers.
The council, unions and others have pushed for such targets on territory government contracts through a Legislative Assembly inquiry into insecure work in Canberra, as well as the creation of the proposed new "local jobs code".
But Ms Helyar said the sector also wanted to see transparent reporting on the employment targets, including de-identified data on the numbers of people employed with barriers to jobs, the level and security of their roles and the number of people with a disability employed in award wage jobs.
Ms Berry said the contract would include a new performance management system to encourage the firm to achieve the best possible services, tenant engagement and satisfaction and meet industrial relations and ethics requirements.
The contractor will spend the next three months setting up the new system, which will help Housing ACT monitor its performance, through ongoing reports on the firm's performance against the contract key performance indicators.
Ms Berry said ahead of the transfer, the government would also be setting up a transition team to ensure the current levels of service were retained as the new contractor took over.
The performance management system will monitor the firm's work, but the government also plans to review the entire contract and performance in three years' and five years' time, to ensure the firm is meeting government objectives.
Any potential cost over-runs, beyond the $48 million annually budgeted for the contract, will be borne by the contractor, rather than ACT taxpayers.
All contact details for repairs and maintenance services for tenants will remain the same, with the call centre operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 6207 1500 or via SMS on 0438 100 500.
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