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Govt flags IT procurement push into the small end of town

Govt flags IT procurement push into the small end of town

Minister says he wants more SME partners to bid for tenders

Angus Taylor - Minister assisting the Prime Minister for cities and digital transformation

Angus Taylor - Minister assisting the Prime Minister for cities and digital transformation

The Federal Government wants to make wholesale changes to the way it awards procurement contracts to give more opportunities to small to medium businesses to win tenders.

The Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, told media on Sunday 19 March, that through the Government's Digital Marketplace platform, it was looking to break up its traditional IT tenders into smaller projects to allow smaller organisations a better chance at winning contracts.

At the heart of the plan is the government's push to make all such projects agency-led, and the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) would provide guidance to agencies but any oversight would be done at cabinet level.

The Federal Government invests more than $9 billion per year in IT projects, but the Minister said that of all the large procurement contracts completed, only three per cent go off without a hitch. He compared this with 48 per cent of smaller projects which fall into trouble.

The Turnbull Government and some of its Global Systems Integrator (GSI) partners have come under scrutiny in the last six months over issues such as “Census Fail” and the ongoing issues at the ATO.

“What we are positioning the Government to do is manage risk better than any government in the past, deal with the issues expeditiously, increase the likelihood of success for projects and learn from our mistakes,” Taylor said.

Under the proposed change, these large and lengthy IT projects which were often only accessible to the GSI fraternity, could now be broken up into smaller projects.

Taylor said the Government wanted to use its digital marketplace to disrupt the traditional panel process for tenders and thus make projects more accessible for small to medium enterprise providers.

“I would like to see 10 percentage points more going to SMEs,” Taylor said when asked how much of the total IT spend the government wanted to direct toward smaller partner organisations.

He said he would like to see this done as soon “as is reasonably achievable” but would not give a time frame to achieve this.

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