A reduction of the number of procurement panels the Federal Government draws upon for its IT buying activities and an even bigger focus on smaller suppliers could be on the cards, under new changes proposed by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA).
The DTA, which is charged with handling a large chunk of the Government’s IT services procurement arrangements, on 3 April released a consultation paper and called on the local IT industry and other stakeholders for feedback on its draft ICT Procurement Framework.
The proposed framework is aimed at providing the foundation needed to ensure the Federal Government is able to deliver a simple and clear approach to IT procurement, for both government buyers and industry sellers.
“We are working on a series of reforms to make it easier for small and medium businesses to sell to government, simplify processes, avoid duplication, and consolidate and coordinate whole-of-government buying,” the DTA said. “At the centre of this work is a new ICT Procurement Framework.”
According to the DTA, a team made up of people from various Government agencies and departments worked together earlier this year, researching how a framework for IT procurement could be used, and what those using the framework need out of it.
At the end of the research, the team had written the draft framework, which has now been released.
Broadly, it is hoped that the framework demonstrates the principles, policies and guidance work together to help deliver a fair, effective and efficient IT procurement process.
One of the main focus areas of the proposed framework revolves around the existing state of government procurement panels, which the DTA suggests could do with an overhaul that sees fewer and more flexible panel arrangements.
“Panels are good but they could be better,” the DTA said. “We found many government procurement officers see panels as rigid and lacking flexibility. This can mean new players and emerging technologies are locked out because traditional panels are not set up to bring on new service categories.
“There is a sentiment that there are too many panels, there is a wide variance in the way panels are managed and it can be difficult to find the panel manager for non-mandated panels,” it said.
The findings referred to by the DTA come from recommendations made in the Government’s Report of the ICT Procurement Taskforce.
The Government’s ICT Procurement Taskforce initiative, the details of which were revealed in 2016, is aimed at helping to overhaul the way the country spends its $9 billion-plus annual IT investment dollars.
Another major procurement initiative stemming from the recommendations of the taskforce’s report were the procurement reforms revealed last year by then Federal Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, which saw IT contracts capped at $100 million.
The procurement changes also see a pledge by the Government to inject an additional $650 million annually into local tech companies that fall into the small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) category – reflecting a long-term goal by the DTA to give SMEs a better chance to vie for Government contracts.
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