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Submissions close for centralised PC contract in Victoria

Local computer suppliers are waiting with baited breath after submitting for the Victorian State Government's first ever centralised PC procurement policy.

The PC and Notebook Equipment Panel will cover the provision of desktop PCs, two classes of notebooks (Ultra Mobile User and Standard User Class) and associated services. The contract will run for three years, with options to extend for two further years. Requests for tenders closed on November 17.

The contract encompasses a total of 11 state departments including the lucrative Department of Education and Training and the Victoria Police.

In its request for tender document, the government said the combined departments maintained approximately 35,000 PCs and notebooks, worth about $10 million per year. There were an additional 250,000 units maintained by external government agencies that would also use the State Purchase Contracts (SPCs).

A spokesperson from the Department of Infrastructure, which manages the contract, said there were nine different departmental contracts in place for the supply of PCs and notebooks to the Victorian Government.

The new centralised panel would allow the state government to have a tighter hold on its procurement policies.

"Prices and catalogue management, technology refresh and performance will be very closely monitored and managed," the spokesperson said.

"The objective for the Victorian model is to continue to ensure we get the best possible value for money."

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The PC and Notebook Equipment Panel is expected to be similar to the ITS2000 panel maintained by the NSW state government for the supply of PC equipment to its various departments.

The contract, which was due to expire on October 31, has been extended for a year.

This latest shift towards centralised purchasing is indicative of a broader push by state governments to take an enterprise approach to procurement.

It also follows the appointment of CIOs within both state governments.

PC suppliers discussing the implications of centralised contracts with ARN have expressed concerns that local providers could be cut out because the approach favoured cheap prices rather than specialised product for individual department needs.

Optima chairman and managing director, Cornel Ung, said the vendor had spent about three weeks putting its submission together.

The contract was one of the most complex tenders it had applied for, he said. Other known submissions for the panel include Lenovo, Acer, ASI Solutions and Volante, which all have existing contracts with select Victorian state departments.

ASI managing director, Maree Lowe, said the hardest part of competing for the contract would be pricing.

"There have been some very large bids," Lowe said. "The difficulty for Australian companies is that multinationals have deeper pockets and can subsidise cheap pricing to get the business initially.

"On the positive side, Australian companies shine in service delivery. We are open to working with the multinationals in the delivery of services."

But Volante product director, Shayne Taylor, said he did not agree that the centralised procurement approach being taken by government departments was detrimental to local industry.

"From a business perspective, it's a bit more hit and miss, and the risks are higher, but the rewards are also higher," he said.

To help ensure local product is considered, the Department of Infrastructure spokesperson said it had been required to seek proposals from the Victorian Industry Participation Policy (VIPP) during the tender process.

The department spokesperson said it expected to have the panel in place by the first quarter of next year, with a shortlist to be announced next month.