The Myths

Common myths about CAL

CAL is a government department – FALSE
CAL is a company limited by guarantee established in 1995 by the Territory’s then-peak industry associations. While it provides a valuable pre-qualification service to government, it is owned and managed by the Territory’s building and construction industries.

Assessment panel members see their competitors’ financial accounts – FALSE

This is the biggest myth of them all. The financial information provided by applicants is not shown to the assessment panels.

The information is held on a separate file to the rest of the application. It is shown only to the independent Financial Consultant who conducts the assessment and provides a simple report that identifies the financial rating supported by the information.
The assessment panel sees the Consultant’s recommendation and the applicant’s turnover history for up to the past five years. The panel may also see the details of any adverse credit references if there is a case to downgrade or refuse accreditation due to the applicant not paying their accounts on time.
No other financial information is made available to directors or panel members.

CAL is responsible for the awarding of government contracts – FALSE
CAL is an independent body. While the government uses CAL Accreditation to identify the pool of contractors it chooses to consider tenders from, CAL does NOT:

  • Advertise tenders
  • Receive tenders
  • Assess tenders
  • Award contracts or
  • Manage contracts on behalf of the government.

CAL was set up by the large contractors to control sub-contractors – FALSE
CAL accredits approximately 1000 contractors and sub-contractors each year, with ratings ranging from $50,000 to $50 million+. The assessment panel has members drawn from a range of local businesses with industry and Northern Territory experience. All applicants for accreditation are treated equally.

CAL is just a money-making exercise for its directors – FALSE
CAL operates on a no-profit basis with all money being put towards managing the business. Directors are paid an hourly fee for the time they put into the company, which amounts to $4,000 – $6,000 per year on average. CAL does not have shares and does not distribute dividends.

The government has to award contracts to interstate companies because CAL says so – FALSE
CAL plays no role in the assessing or awarding of tenders and cannot tell the government who to award work to. Approximately 22% of accredited contractors are regarded by CAL as being from interstate. Commonwealth law does not allow CAL to refuse to accept applications from interstate companies.

Their applications are assessed in the same way as all other applications and accreditation is awarded to reflect our assessment of their capability to successfully carry out work in the Northern Territory.

Assessment panel members have a commercial advantage because they can see their competitors’ prices – FALSE
The only pricing information that the assessment panel members see is the price of an awarded contract, usually after the work has been completed. This is publicly available information published by the government at the time the contract is awarded.
In addition, panel members do not see the files of their direct competitors. They are either excluded at the request of the applicant or declare a potential conflict of interest and are excluded from viewing and considering the application.

It takes three months to complete a CAL application and costs $15,000 a year to be accredited – FALSE
Applicants should find the application form more straightforward than completing a tender response. Most of the required information should be easily to hand.

The annual invitations to renew are accompanied by a pre-filled form using the information previously supplied by the applicant. While this needs to be checked and any changes noted there is no need to complete another full application.

CAL’s fees are assessed on the ratings awarded. The higher the rating, the higher the fee.
The current fees range from $348 for a $50,000 rating to $2,953 for ratings over $25 million.