ICT procurement reform welcomed by industry

Published on the 29/08/2017 | Written by Jonathan Cotton

ICT procurement

The ICT Procurement Taskforce Report - along with the government's response - has been issued and it's good news for SMEs…

Released last week the report makes ten recommendations on ways to overhaul Commonwealth ICT procurement processes, proposals that will likely make it easier and less expensive for smaller Australian ICT companies to bid for components of larger projects and have the more opportunities to do business with the government.

Under the new framework government ICT contracts will be capped at a maximum of $100 million or three years’ duration, presumably benefiting small and medium enterprises who will have the opportunity to bid for smaller individual components of larger projects.

The Government has accepted – to greater and lesser degrees – all of the recommendations.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) is welcoming the new approach, saying the introduction of new ICT procurement options are in line with recommendations they’ve made.

The changes, said Rob Fitzpatrick, CEO of AIIA, “open the door” for government agencies to embrace innovation and new ideas and is “a step closer to breaking down Canberra’s risk-averse culture”.

“The government has sent an important message about the importance of delivering on its digital transformation agenda,” he said.

Fitzpatrick also said that the report appears to indicate a strong new commitment to cloud services across government and a reformation of current panel arrangements, something long overdue.

“AIIA has expressed concern for some time that current approaches are out of synch with new business and operating models,” he said.

The move has likewise been met with almost universal approval from industry players.

“I think it’s without a doubt something to be welcomed,” said Annabel Griffin, partner with KWM in Canberra. “Especially in Australia where we’ve got fantastic providers and SMEs that can give fantastic services to government. This provides for an actual policy target for agencies and that’s something to definitely be celebrated.”

“Agencies come in differing shapes and sizes but there’s often a commonality of requirement which the DTA [Digital Transformation Agency] is trying to harmonise, so it makes sense.”

Griffin said that while small to medium sized enterprises who are nimble enough to respond to new market opportunities will be well positioned by the new framework, it does pose a challenge to the Commonwealth, especially when navigating complex rollouts.

“Chunking your procurement up into bite-sizes puts the risk on the Commonwealth to coordinate all of that, so it’s about finding the right balance between ensuring there’s opportunities for participation by SMEs and also, ultimately, with what agencies need to achieve in terms of project delivery.”

Griffin also said the reforms have the potential, once those smaller participating providers scale, to support new enterprises and ultimately lead to new Australian businesses, services and goods.

“It’s driving the Commonwealth spend in the right way to encourage Australian business,” said Griffin, “and that’s good for everyone”.

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