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AGIMO forges ahead with whole of government panels...but still no WISP

by Paris Cowan •
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The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has named seven of the ICT providers that will make up the whole-of-government Telecommunications Management Panel (formerly referred to as the Telecommunications Lifecycle Management Panel, or TLMS).

The successful providers are:

  • Boeing Defence Australia Ltd
  • Bridge IT Engineering Pty Ltd
  • Consultel IT and T Pty Ltd
  • Fujitsu Australia Limited
  • NEC Australia Pty Ltd
  • Optus Networks Pty Ltd
  • Telstra Corporation Limited

The panel will cover the provision of telecommunications management advice, services and support. This includes the design of telecommunications solutions, the management of mobile fleets, contract management, billing and inventory management, helpdesk support and the sourcing of specialist telecommunication management advice to complement internal resources.

Inclusion on the contract could herald a change in contracting patterns for some of the selected vendors.

It heralds a significant client base expansion for Boeing, which hasn’t registered a single ICT contract with a non-Defence agency since 2007.

Consultel have signed one published contract into the Federal Government since 1 July 2009, worth $80,000.

In a post on the AGIMO Blog, First Assistant Secretary Agency Services, John Sheridan wrote that, “the panel will help Australian Government agencies procure services to supplement their internal capabilities. This arrangement will also achieve savings and efficiencies through the procurement process and better utilisation of aggregated buying power”.

Sheridan also indicated that negotiations with some suppliers were still underway, and that the panel would be amended accordingly when these are complete.

Use of the panel will be mandatory for all FMA Act agencies and optional for CAC Act agencies, with agencies from other jurisdictions also given the option of procuring through it.

The announcement of the Telecommunications Managed Services panel follows Sheridan’s remarks at CeBIT on 1 June that another whole of government arrangements are close to completion.

“I am pleased and somewhat relieved to note that all but two of these are almost concluded. Greenfields Data Centres is in the final stages of evaluation.  Internet Based Network Connections is in the final stages of contract negotiations, and I anticipate that we will have this completed shortly. This will bring, at least this stage, of the whole-of-government procurement work to a close,” he said.

Despite all of this coordinated procurement activity, there has yet to emerge any word on the Whole of Government IT Services Panel (WISP).

The Department of Finance and Deregulation’s procurement plan for 2010-11 indicated that an approach to market to form the WISP was slated for Quarter Four of 2010-11.  With less than a month left of the financial year, it seems increasingly likely that the procurement process is experiencing delays.

It is possible that the groundbreaking panel arrangement is proving to be more complex than expected.

A discussion paper released in December 2010 has given AGIMO a number of things to consider, according to Sheridan.

“AGIMO explored the WISP arrangement as a ‘straw man’ in a discussion paper and is now formulating a policy approach to address panel optimisation, based on the information gained from the subsequent discussions with stakeholders and industry. This approach is likely to consider reducing the number of ICT services panels while also exploring ways in which they can be made more efficient and effective,” he told Intermedium.

Sheridan’s comments suggest the WISP now under contemplation may be considerably different in shape and form than was previously expected.

In the discussion paper it was suggested that there could be four IT Services panels in total. This would likely be made up of three portfolio-based IT Services panels which would cover the largest ICT procuring agencies. The WISP would cover the remaining agencies.

The three portfolio agencies would likely be the Department of Defence / Defence Materiel Organisation (Defence /DMO), the new Department of Human Services (including Centrelink and Medicare – who will cease to exist as separate entities on 1 July) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). 

According to Intermedium’s 2009-10 IT Services report, the Defence agencies contracted a combined total of $685 million worth of IT Services in the financial year. The DHS cluster contracted a total of $505 million and the ATO contracted a total of $121 million worth of IT Services in the same period. These totals include labour hire contracts, which the discussion paper suggested would not be included on the WISP.  

Defence is about to approach the market for its Applications Managed Services panel (AMSPA). The ATO is understood to be in contract negotiations with a short list of five suppliers, down from the eleven respondents to its October 2010 Request for Tender for an IT Applications Services panel

DHS is not currently in the market for a replacement for any of the existing IT Services panels it has in place across the cluster portfolio.

The WISP emerged in response to the recommendations of the 2008 Gershon Report on the Government’s use of ICT. The Report advised that the number of ICT panel arrangements be optimised across the Federal Government. At the time it was published, there were a total of 87 IT Services panel in place within Federal agencies, making this an obvious target for panel rationalisation. 

Intermedium’s scout IT tool currently lists 116 IT services panels as being currently in place across the Federal Government and due to expire in the next 3 years.

Speaking as a part of a panel at the CeBIT eGovernment forum on 1 June 2011, Sheridan revealed that early indications suggest that the coordinated procurement scheme is generating admirable savings.

 “We have been able to get prices and arrangements for agencies that government wasn’t achieving previously. The notion of bringing the government’s aggregate buying power together has started to provide some real effects,” he said.

“What we know is that work in the VSA [Volume Sourcing Arrangement] has lead to a reduction in Microsoft costs of 25 percent. Of the work in data centres, the initial leasing program lead to a reduction in costs of 30 percent.  I know now, based on three-quarters worth of figures for whole of government desktop hardware, that we are buying computers at the same price (within a couple of percent) that US enterprises buy them at. This is well under the Australian average price,” he said.

It was Sheridan’s comment that the finalisation of the Greenfields Data Centres and Internet Based Network Connections procurements were almost complete and would bring the whole of government procurement process to a close that led Intermedium to enquire about the future of the WISP.

Also yet to be finalised is the Managed Print Services Whole of Government panel, which many the suppliers of photocopiers, multi function devices and printers now view as far more important to their future than the already announced Major Office Machines Panel.

Membership of the latter was announced in April, at which time it was stated that an equivalent list for print services should follow within weeks.


Related Articles:

AGIMO proposes profound, far reaching changes to ICT Services procurement

Finance establishes Telco Lifecycle Management Services Panel

Defence CIO: Systems Integrator Panel due this month

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