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

Taylor went on to say that Australian companies would receive some preferential treatment if they were able to demonstrate capability in the required discipline.

“We don’t want to pick the wrong solution or the wrong application for a particular problem, but the local players to the extent that they are involved and have some history in the space have a big head start in many of these cases,” he said.

He sighted the example of two Australian partners - Sliced Tech and Vault Systems - which were the first two companies certified by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) for their cloud platforms.

“The fact that the two first protected cloud providers are two small Australian companies, this is important,” he said. “Success here will require two parts, one part is us, that is important, we have to get our act together.

“We have to create smaller, more modular projects. We have to reduce the barriers to entry for the current panel process. We have got to have a procurement process that allows for innovation just doesn’t just allow spec in goring detail, It allows companies to come to us and say ‘you haven’t thought about this," he said.

However, Taylor said the Government could not do this alone, and small tech players and entrepreneurs in the sector needed to come to the table.

“Digital Government has to be a focus for the entrepreneurial tech sector in Australia and that is something I want to make happen as fast as possible,” he said.

Improving Engagement

Taylor said the government also had to do a better job of reaching out to Australian companies and entrepreneurs and cited the government’s protected cloud and digital marketplace as examples.

“The likelihood that a small, agile project falls into trouble is far larger than a big waterfall project. That’s not to say that they don’t fall into trouble,” he warned.

“We are, in many of these projects, exploring unknown terrain and when you explore unknown terrain, sometimes you hit cliff lines and you have to backtrack and start again, that’s the nature of innovation," he said.

Taylor said that to improve the results of government IT projects across the board, the Government needed to build the skill set within the Australian public service to be able to manage a portfolio of smaller, agile projects as opposed to one large “waterfall” project which requires a skill set of managing interoperability and vetting participants.

“When things do go wrong, if it is a small project, it is much easier to handle, you can deal with it,” he said.

While this approach may be suitable for a growing number of future government projects, the minister conceded that not all projects can be small and said the government would certainly still be relying on contractors to fulfil many of the large projects which remain.

“We need to be in control of it and across it, that’s crucial. It is not to say that every small project is going to go to an SME, in some cases a big player will have the best solution,” he said.

“We want to do smaller projects because the risk is lower, they are easier to manage, if they get into trouble, it is easier to deal with it and get back on course. A necessary condition for getting SMEs involved is that we have smaller projects.

“If just ten per cent of projects go to smaller players, we have made one of the biggest steps forward in innovation in the country’s history,” he said.

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