The Australian government has put more than $15 million worth of IT contracts up for grabs on its Digital Marketplace portal since it went live in beta, giving smaller IT providers the chance to vie for public sector work.
The government’s Digital Marketplace was set up under prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull’s pet project, the Digital Transformation Office (DTO), with the aim of simplifying the traditionally bureaucratic and time consuming process of bidding for government tenders.
The portal was launched in Beta on August 29, five months before its expected launch date, with assistant minister for cities and digital transformation, Angus Taylor, calling on small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to ‘get on board’ with the new platform.
“This is an important change in the way [the] government has traditionally done business. It’s a new platform for businesses and government to work together in a creative and flexible way,” Taylor said at the time.
Almost two months after its launch, the DTO has revealed that the Digital Marketplace has not only racked up millions in government contracts, it is also receiving a steady flow of positive feedback from the government buyers and IT suppliers using the portal.
According to the DTO, IT buyers have not just come in the form of federal government entities, with a strong uptake at local and state levels, as well as other government organisations, such as the national public broadcaster, ABC, and Melbourne Water.
The Digital Marketplace currently claims more than 180 public sector IT buyers and more than 240 approved suppliers selling their wares on the platform. These include Artis Group, CSC, TP&G Solutions, and Veritec.
The feedback comes as the DTO embarks on a proposed expansion to become the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA). The move, announced in mid-October, will see the startup-inspired DTO become a fully-fledged governmental agency.
Under the plans, the new entity will receive a new structure that sees it take on the public sector IT procurement and back-office technology management that has, until now, been under the jurisdiction of the Department of Finance.
The DTO had already been handed the digital aspects of the Department of Finance’s Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), when the new Office was created as part of the federal government’s digital transformation agenda.
“The new digital agency will be responsible for the ICT policy and ICT procurement functions, currently managed by the Department of Finance,” the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said in a statement when the DTA plans were unveiled.
“Changes around creation of the new agency and its remit will be recommended to the Governor General for approval,” it said.
Given the positive feedback the DTO claims to have received from users of the Digital Marketplace, the creation of the new agency, with its broader IT procurement remit, could potentially see more government work offered to suppliers via the Digital marketplace or something similar – a move that could help to level the playing field for IT providers.
Making the local IT provider landscape fairer on smaller suppliers and removing barriers has a major focus for DTO chief executive, Paul Shetler.
“Procurement barriers can be costly for businesses of all sizes, but particularly for startups and SMEs who may find it difficult to navigate the red tape and jargon associated with some procurement processes,” Shetler said when the Digital Marketplace was first announced.
“Our goal is to deliver services that are as accessible and seamless as ordering an Uber or banking online, but to achieve this we need to make it easier for innovative businesses to partner with government,” he said.