The Federal Government has surpassed its target for a reduction in the number of IT services panels it operates, more than a year ahead of deadline.
As of April 2013, the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s monitoring showed that the number of IT panels in the Federal Government had dropped to 50, seven less than the 57 that the Portfolio Panels for IT Services Policy aimed to achieve by the end of 2014.
Australian Government Chief Technology Officer John Sheridan revealed back in March that even then agencies had almost reached their goal of reducing the number of IT service panels by 50 per cent.
“We gave them a target of getting to that by the end of 2014. Well at the end of last year we were down from 126 to 58 already,” said Sheridan in his speech to a CIPSA forum.
The policy was developed following a recommendation from Sir Peter Gershon in his 2008 ‘Review of the Australian Government’s Use of Information and Communication Technology.’ In 2011 the Government revised its approach to IT services and adopted the Portfolio Panels for IT Services Policy instead of a previously proposed Whole of Government IT Services Panel (WISP).
The then Special Minister for State Gary Gray announced the policy saying it “…will reduce the administrative overheads incurred by agencies in establishing their own panels and also for the IT industry in tendering for inclusion in the current large number of panels.”
The goal was to install a limit of three IT services panels per portfolio in order to significantly reduce the current number. This would leave 57 panels across the 19 portfolios. The government aimed to reduce administration for agencies and to grant suppliers simpler access to more Australian Government agencies by demanding that all panels be open to multi-agency access.
The Australian Government Information Management Office published an online matrix of existing IT service panels to assist agencies with the implementation and to locate a suitable panel for their procurement needs.
The reduction of these panels was seen by some IT press to be moving slowly in February 2012 when it was revealed that only eight of the 19 portfolios had adhered to the three panel limit.
However, it seems those goals have since been achieved. Sheridan made note of one particular portfolio that had culled half its panels, moving from ten to five.
“[We are] reducing complexity for agencies, reducing complexity for vendors, and it’s interesting, I think, how such a relatively small change can drive that sort of big outcome,” Sheridan said on the success of the policy.
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