The Department of Defence will increasingly centralise its system support services and look to the market to deliver these, with a number of tenders and refinement of current panels expected in the months ahead.
Peter Lambert, Head of Information Systems Division CIO Group, told an AIIA Managers Forum in Canberra this week that tenders for support services for major corporate applications ROMAN, BORIS, PMKeys, and MIMS and for the Defence Standard Operating Environment (SOE) would be released between now and January 2007. A tender for support service for the Objective-based Defence records management system was already with the market.
Work was underway to examine current panel contracts, although these were unlikely to change immediately or swiftly. Defence will also move to consolidate its many very small contracts into larger ones.
Defence’s large and complex network (500 bases, including 150 major sites) plus growing demand for more collaborative tools and distributed applications had led to capacity problems within ISD, he said. Demand exceeded supply, with 112 projects and 6-700 tasks currently on the go, and a low closure rate. Defence would increasingly look to the industry to deliver services and infrastructure to close this gap, he said.
The need for change had been identified through an “Accelerated Solutions Environment” forum earlier in the year. Buy-in that ISD should stop “doing” and engage industry was pivotal to the change process, he said.
Mr. Lambert said there would now be more focus on forward planning and engagement with key suppliers such as Microsoft. A lot more policy-based change lay ahead. However, he reminded the Forum that Defence was a follower, not a leader except in military and scientific technologies and that they would be looking to “go with the mainstream”.
With about 60% of the current staff working in sustainment and development activities, Defence wanted to manage any personnel impacts carefully. “APS people don’t do it for the money, they do it for love”, he said. “We wanted to nurture that”. Major cultural change would be required, with a shift in emphasis from doing things themselves to management of programs, projects and contracts.
Mr. Lambert told the Forum that ISD still had a tendency to say yes and then not be able to deliver. “We’ll never be perfect but we’re getting there”, he said.