Major Govt IT panels get passed over to the DTA

Eight whole-of-government IT procurement panels set to make the move
Australian Government chief technology officer, John Sheridan.

Australian Government chief technology officer, John Sheridan.

Eight major Federal Government IT procurement panels are set to come under the auspices of the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) from the beginning of May.

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 to the DTA.

Among the procurement panels to make the journey to the freshly-created agency from the Department of Finance, where they have resided for years, is the government’s cloud services panel, the mobile panel, the telecommunications services panel and the data centre services panel.

According to Sheridan, the move completes amendments to the government’s Administrative Arrangements Order made last year that transferred a number of functions, including IT procurement policy and services, from the Department of Finance to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet – under which jurisdiction of the DTA falls.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all suppliers and agencies for their participation in the Commonwealth’s whole of government panel arrangements to date,” Sheridan said in a statement.

The prospect of the DTA taking ownership over the Commonwealth’s whole-of-government IT procurement duties was flagged in October last year, when it was announced that the Digital Transformation Office, established by Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in 2015, would become a fully-fledged agency.

It was revealed at the time that, just as the digital aspects of the Department of Finance’s Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) were transferred to the DTO, when it was created, the remaining Federal Government IT procurement duties would also be shifted to the DTA.

Prior to its re-birth as the DTA, the DTO had already taken on the government’s customer-facing technology duties. Following its transition into a larger organisation, however, the agency adopted the IT procurement and back-office technology oversight that had, until then, remained under the jurisdiction of the Department of Finance.

One of the areas the DTO, and then the DTA, has focused on since their respective creations has been the development of the Government’s Digital Marketplace platform, which went live in beta on 29 August last year.

The driving idea behind the Digital Marketplace is 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 work issued by the whole-of-government procurement panels to be shifted to the DTA will get the same Digital Marketplace treatment as the estimated $15 million worth of IT contracts that, as of October last year, had gone up on the portal since its beta launch.

The move comes as Australia's Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, foreshadows the possibility that, through the Digital Marketplace platform, the government may be looking to break up its traditional IT tenders into smaller projects to allow smaller organisations a better chance at winning contracts.

“I would like to see 10 percentage points more [projects] going to SMEs,” Taylor said on 19 March.

Below is the full list of the government IT procurement panels that will make the move to the DTA in May:

  • Cloud Services Panel
  • Data Centre Facilities Panel
  • Data Centre Facilities Supplies Panel
  • ICT Hardware and Associated Services Panel
  • Internet Based Connection Services Panel
  • Microsoft Volume Sourcing Arrangement (including the Large Account Reseller Agreement)
  • Mobile Panel
  • Telecommunications Services Panel