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Analyst View - On the Defence Horizon

by Jon Cottam •
Free resource

Defence ICT procurement already stands head and shoulders above other Federal agencies, but a number of current developments look set to push its total number and value of ICT contracts to ever-higher levels.   

With only a modest-sized military, Australia has to use ‘force multipliers’ to be effective. While these force multipliers can come in the form of better jets and ships, the 2020 Defence Strategic Update (DSU) and the 2020 Force Structure Plan (FSP) highlight that ICT capability is just as critical to delivering sound national security as is the investment in military hardware.

While the FSP points to technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence having utility in the future, the declining security environment in the Indo-Pacific and Australia’s post-COVID recovery could see these technologies adopted earlier than expected.

Blockchain, for example, could enhance security and reliability within the military supply chain, while artificial intelligence could boost productivity by freeing front line personnel from manual tasks.   

In addition to the opportunities arising from the DSU and FSP, Intermedium’s Defence data set indicates that over 1,700 ICT contracts (largely ICT labour-hire and IT Services) will expire by the end of 2021-22. Given Defence’s current reliance on contracted labour, many of them are likely to be renewed. This is additional to nearer-term opportunities born out of the Defence DSU and FSP.

A Request for Tender to refresh the Information Communications Technology Partner Arrangement (ICTPA) remains open until 17 June 2021. As Defence’s leading panel (by contract value), it presents a major opportunity for new suppliers to join a key channel of Defence procurement.  

While the FSP points to technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence having utility in the future, the declining security environment in the Indo-Pacific and Australia’s post-COVID recovery could see these technologies adopted earlier than expected. For example, blockchain could enhance security and reliability within the supply chain, while artificial intelligence could boost productivity by freeing personnel from manual tasks.   

A new Defence ICT Strategy is due sometime this year. The Defence ICT Strategy 2016-2020 was executed in line with the First Principles Review and the 2016 Defence White Paper so a new strategy that reflects the demands of the DSU and FSP is needed.

Another element of change in the Defence ICT environment is the fact that the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting (ASDEFCON) suite has been under review this year as part of efforts to simplify the tendering process for suppliers. The outcomes of this review are to be provided to the Federal Government in the coming weeks.

Jurisdiction
  • Federal
Category
  • IT Services
Sector
  • Defence