The Federal Government is set to establish a whole-of-government software licensing and services procurement (SLS) panel led by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).
The DTA, which grew out of the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO), put the call out on 17 July to potential suppliers to provide feedback on the proposed panel.
The proposed procurement arrangement is intended to improve the existing system for software licensing within government and provide an opportunity for more providers to sell to government bodies.
Initially, the panel will have one category: Microsoft Licensing. In the future, however, more categories will be added for other software licensing and related services. The dates for the additional category additions are not yet set.
From March 2018, non-corporate Federal Government entities will be required to use the Microsoft Licensing category of the panel if they choose to purchase Microsoft software, according to the DTA.
The panel will also be available for government business enterprises and state and territory governments to use.
The new panel category is set to replace the existing reseller arrangement for Microsoft licensing that is due to expire in March 2018.
The current Whole of Government Microsoft Large Account Reseller (LAR) Deliverables procurement panel, which was established in March 2012, claims just one supplier, Data#3 Limited, according to tender documents.
However, the establishment of the proposed SLS panel is likely to see Data#3 lose its coveted position as the sole whole-of-government Microsoft Large Account Reseller under the existing procurement arrangement.
As part of its process to garner industry feedback on the proposed panel, the DTA has released a draft statement of requirements for the procurement arrangement’s first category, Microsoft licensing solutions providers.
The draft statement of requirement calls for the provision of services relating to the procurement of Microsoft products, such as licensing advice, quotations, invoicing, licence key distribution, renewal advice and compliance support.
“The Tenderer may propose Additional Value Add LSP Deliverables within the Mark Up quoted by Tenderers, for DTA to consider,” the statement of requirement stated.
“For example, these may include (but are not limited to) help desks, onsite support, further benefits related to the redemption of Microsoft Software Assurance Benefits, software asset management, media management, deployment services, discounts, rebates etc,” it said.
While, the provision of Microsoft Premier Support Services is specifically out of scope for the DTA’s draft tender request, this may be requested in future market approaches.
The draft statement of requirements also stipulates that the tenderer should contribute to the government innovation agenda and innovation initiatives, such as the innovation fund, sharing of innovation, proof of concept support, research, and training and secondment opportunities.
The DTA said it intends to add additional categories of deliverables to the SLS panel, and additional panellists via further approaches to the market.
The call for industry feedback for the creation of the proposed SLS panel comes less than three months after at least eight major Federal Government IT procurement panels were shifted to come under the auspices of the DTA.
The Australian Government’s chief technology officer (CTO), John Sheridan, revealed the changes on 23 March that the whole-of-government, IT coordinated procurement arrangements and panels will be moved from the Department of Finance, where they had resided, to the DTA.
Among the procurement panels to make the journey to the relatively new agency from the Department of Finance, was the government’s cloud services panel, the mobile panel, the telecommunications services panel and the data centre services panel.
The DTA has previously flagged that it hopes to create new IT procurement arrangements that give smaller tech players greater opportunities to pitch for government work.
Certainly, the agency’s early forays into IT procurement have resulted in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) claiming a fair proportion of smaller projects.
In May, the DTA revealed that SMEs had picked up 82 per cent of the estimated $15.3 million worth of contracts tendered via its Digital Marketplace online procurement portal.
One of the driving ideas behind the Digital Marketplace was to make it easier for smaller IT providers to compete for government work – a move which is hoped to help to drive technological collaboration and innovation among government agencies and the private sector.
However, it remains to be seen whether the involvement of smaller IT providers in the Government tendering process will freely translate to larger procurement panels populated with big players such as Data#3.
The official approach to market for the proposed Software Licensing and Services panel will be available on AusTender from August 2017.
Tenderers must be approved Microsoft Licensing Solutions Providers to be appointed to the Microsoft Licensing category of the panel.