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10 Days Might Be All You Get

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It pays to keep tabs on federal government procurement plans. If agencies publish an intended ICT procurement in their procurement plans on the AusTender website, they only need to keep a tender open for 10 days, instead of 25 days, says the Department of Finance and Administration’s Manager of Procurement Reporting and Systems.

Speaking at Intermedium‟s recent Procurement Plans Untangled seminar in Canberra, Duncan McIntyre told the audience that the reduced timeframe for tenders “is an excellent incentive to ensure agencies publish lots of details in their procurement plans.”

But it means that ICT companies need to be vigilant about keeping abreast of which tenders may be coming out and when they are likely to come out, because 10 days is an extremely tight timeframe in which to produce a high quality response, says Judy Hurditch, Director of Intermedium.

“The only way a company can produce a good document in such a timeframe is to be thinking about the response well ahead of time, and wherever possible, speaking with the agency about their likely requirements in advance of when the probity curtain comes down,” she said following the briefing. This means ICT companies really need to know what is in this first crop of procurement plans, she added.

Previously in charge of broadband policy at the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Duncan McIntyre is now responsible for the redevelopment of AusTender, as well as the Endorsed Supplier Arrangement. He sees many positive developments for AusTender, which has now grown into a sizeable and high demand site, from a small pilot site just 18 months ago.

He said that the statistics are already impressive. For all procurement categories published on AusTender, (ie not just ICT):

  • 118 agencies have published procurement plans,
  • 26,402 suppliers are registered to receive AusTender notifications, and
  • 2,000 open tenders are published per annum.

Mr McIntyre stated that a little over 10 percent of all procurements are ICT-related.

“In the past, suppliers needed to go to each agency website and search for opportunities, or hire someone to do it for them. Now all the procurement information is in one place,” Mr McIntyre said.

While AusTender‟s goal is to streamline the tender process for industry, and improve the quality and access to government procurement reporting, Mr McIntyre did admit that at the moment, “procurement plans are very difficult to search to identify opportunities. There‟s certainly varying degrees of quality of information between agencies.” However, he expects the quality of these plans to keep on improving as agencies gain experience in dealing with the new requirement to publish plans, and once they realise the benefits to themselves with regard to the shortened timeframe.

The vision for AusTender is for it to be a „one-stop shop‟ for Australian Government procurement information, tracking a procurement from its initial status in a procurement plan, right through to notification of award of contract. Enhanced search capabilities are also planned. These improvements are expected to come on line through the next financial year, said Mr McIntyre.

In the interim, Intermedium‟s Analysis of Federal Government Procurement Plans can take the headache out of discovering what is in the current crop of procurement plans.

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