On Wednesday 9 April, the ATO held the second industry briefing in its current sourcing program, this time covering end-user computing (EUC). The large audience included industry vendors and a number of ‘interested observers’ from other Federal agencies, suggesting that the ATO may be one of the first agencies to implement some of the Government’s new approach on ICT procurement.
This component of the current contract is worth around $40 million a year, but this is expected to grow to $60 million per year.
Responses to the EOI are sought from “clear prime contractors”. The EUC procurement arrangement covers 33,000 workstations and laptops, around 1,800 printers (MFDs are excluded at this stage) and 370 infrastructure servers, with the contract potentially to last for 10 years. Other mobile devices may fall within scope as the ATO develops its capability in response to emerging technologies.
Arnold Ellem, Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Procurement stressed that prospective bidders must ensure they monitor both the ATO website and Austender as the sole sources of accurate information regarding the procurement.
The presence of so many observers from other agencies, together with the ATO predicating its presentation with a statement on emerging Federal Government procurement policy (below), suggests a growing likelihood of standardisation and consolidation of EUC procurement, perhaps through an expansion of contract “piggybacking”, as the Rudd Government reins in ICT spending. “…Commonwealth policy to develop a centralised procurement system for the delivery of certain goods and servic
s to Commonwealth departments and agencies, where it can be established that the centralised procurement of those goods and services could deliver savings to the Commonwealth.”
Acting ATO CIO Todd Heather, and ICT Sourcing Program Director Narelle Dotta both underscored the critical importance of proven and effective service management as a key requirement for the successful contractor. Todd Heather noted that ATO systems are now increasingly required to be available 24/7 by external customers and stakeholders, and monitoring and support must accommodate this. When questioned, he noted the current public sector sensitivity towards off-shore services but acknowledged this may need to be accommodated over the potential 10 year life of the contract.
ATO intends to short-list respondents to the EOI by mid-July, and the three to six short-listed companies will be invited to participate in a series of workshops (August-September) to enable the ATO to finalise its requirements and the bundle scope. While it was clearly stated that short-listed respondents would not be evaluated on their participation in these workshops, they were urged to “bring the best team”.
The ATO is not committed to issuing an RFT, but if one is issued (around November 2008), the process will short-list two potential prime contractors with whom parallel negotiations will be held.
The EOI that will be issued on 28 April and will cover:
- desktop hardware support services (including desktop PCs, laptops, printers and peripheral devices)
- desktop software standard operating environment
- desktop software services (commercial-off-the-shelf software)
- mobile computing services
- installations, moves, adds and changes (IMACs) (hard and soft, application deployment)
- monitoring services (end-to-end monitoring across network)
- infrastructure servers (including file and print servers, email servers, domain controllers, active directory, DNS, proxy servers, etc)
- virus and patch management
- service desk services (first point of contact service desk for all IT Services)
- solutioning services, and
- service management services (service management across all service providers)
The ATO representatives emphasised that this deal would enable the ATO's workforce to become more mobile, while at the same time retaining a secure environment.
All details and a copy of the briefing including a full transcript will be published on the ATO website.
The EUC is the second tranche of a three-stage market test for the ATO’s IT outsourcing procurement.
The ATO announced in October 2007 that it would open IT outsourcing contracts worth over $1b to multiple suppliers, ending its single-supplier arrangement with EDS that had been in place since 1999.
The ATO identified three ICT infrastructure bundles for market testing. The first went to the market with a tender (EOI) for Managed Network Services released in January 2008.
Following the Managed Network Services tender, and the forthcoming End-user Computing EOI, the final tender will be for "centralised computing" such as the ATO's mainframe computing needs, mid-range storage and its data warehouse.
Previously, the ATO announced that the second and third tenders would be announced simultaneously during the middle of this year, with RFTs likely in January 2009.