DTA extends Cloud Services Panel term as new marketplace looms

DTA extends Cloud Services Panel term as new marketplace looms

Panel extended for an additional year

Credit: ID 55578362 © Victor Diola Jr | Dreamstime

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has extended the term of its Cloud Services Panel to 31 March 2021 as it finalises the details of the new marketplace set to replace the existing panel arrangement. 

The DTA, which is tasked with handling much of the federal government’s IT procurement, released a discussion paper in October last year, outlining its plans to completely overhaul its procurement of cloud services with the launch of a new marketplace. 

Broadly, the agency is preparing to replace its existing Cloud Services Panel (CSP), which it first launched in 2015, ahead of its expiry in March 2020. The current Cloud Services Panel hosts over 500 cloud services from over 240 sellers.

In its place will be a Cloud Marketplace panel (CMP/CMP 2.0), which aims to cater to the rise of ‘Anything-as-a-Service’ (XaaS) business models and buyers’ demand for more “evolved” offerings.

In addition, it aims to “simplify” the buying process, offer a broader range of cloud services, increase participation of Australian small-to-medium enterprises while reducing the time and costs to procuring suppliers.

Following feedback from industry and other stakeholders responding to the discussion paper, the DTA has now revealed it received questions about the operational continuity of the current CSP arrangement, initially set to expire at the end of March 2020.

In response, the DTA said it will extend the CSP term to 31 March 2021, a full year later than its previous expiration date. 

“This extension will make sure we do not interrupt government cloud computing procurements during the RFT [request for tender] process,” the DTA said in a post on its website. “We are not moving current CSP sellers and their services to CMP 2.0. 

“This is a requirement under the Commonwealth Procurement Rules due to the change of scope and approach for the new arrangement,” it stated.  

While the current arrangement will be extended, suppliers will still need to respond to the RFT to be considered for appointment to CMP 2.0.

Moreover, if the two procurement arrangements co-exist for any period, the DTA said it reserves the right to direct government agencies to not place any contracts under the CSP after it establishes the CMP 2.0.

However, any contracts placed under the CSP during the rest of its extended term will continue beyond its expiry or termination.

The discussion paper feedback has also prompted the DTA to simplify the scope of the new arrangement.

“We proposed establishing the CMP 2.0 as a cooperative procurement arrangement for all Cloud Offerings to government,” the DTA stated. “While this has not changed, we have adjusted our approach to simplify the scope and align more closely with the value-for-money (VFM) assessment the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) require.” 

The scope now includes two “important” areas under Cloud Offerings. Under Cloud Services, sellers can offer any ICT functionality as a cloud service -- known as anything-as-a-Service, or XaaS.

Under Cloud Consulting, meanwhile, sellers can provide cloud computing-based professional services – described through a rate-card for subject matter experts.

Additionally, the DTA has moved to simplify its cost recovery model by ending the Administration Fee — also known as the Supplier Administration Fee or SAF — which is currently charged to the sellers on the CSP, effective April 2020. 

“We will not charge this fee under CMP 2.0,” the DTA said.

Instead, agencies should expect to pay a Centralised Administration Fee (CAF) when they successfully contract for a cloud requirement on CMP 2.0.

“The CAF structure matches cost recovery methods we use on our other whole-of-government sourcing arrangements,” the DTA said. 

The DTA expects to approach the market to select and onboard sellers of Cloud Offerings through an open RFT process in March 2020. 

“We expect the new CMP 2.0 arrangement to be operational by late 2020,” the agency stated.

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