The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has commenced the process of replacing the Government’s Secure Australian Telecommunications and Information Network (SATIN), which will consume a considerable proportion of the multimillion dollar 2013-14 Budget allocation DFAT received for the International Communications Network (ICN) Project.
DFAT has issued a request for Expression of Interest (EOI) for the provision of the network services component of the Department’s International Communications Network (ICN) Project which aims to “deliver a more secure, reliable and cost-effective global communications network to meet rapidly evolving business technology needs”.
The ICN Project received $216 million of funding in the 2013-14 Federal Budget (to be spent over the five years commencing 2013-14) to replace core elements of SATIN. SATIN currently connects over 140 sites in Australia and offshore.
More than 45 Government agencies use the network to support their overseas business operations.
SATIN currently supports the:
- Provision of consular, passport and visa services;
- transmission and exchange of highly classified information and intelligence in line with national security arrangements;
- Work of law enforcement and border management agencies in protecting Australia’s borders; and
- Government’s business and public diplomacy activities.
Currently supported by PacNet under a $96.5 million Telecommunications Services contract, SATIN is not coping with a “faster, more complex and more collaborative” business environment. According to the EOI, “Today, information flows across the globe so fast that people everywhere know about events around the world within minutes.
“The future network will need to be more agile than the present system and be more secure, responsive, flexible and faster. It will also need to have the capacity to exploit available and emerging technologies.”
The new ICN will be required to deliver higher network bandwidth to agencies, reduce network latency to increase site performance and be a more efficient and effective network. Additionally it must be able to tailor availability, performance and price to suit the individual needs of specific agencies using the network.
A number of key contracts related to SATIN have expired or are due to expire in the next financial year. DFAT’s contract with PacNet is due to expire in September 2014 after exhausting all extensions.
The EOI documents estimate that the transition from SATIN to the new network will take between 12 to 18 months. On this basis, DFAT is out of time with regard to the expiry of the PacNet contract, and will likely have to put interim arrangements in place.
The EOI states that the new contract will have “a reduced reliance on satellite services by favouring terrestrial services as the default primary telecommunications service.”
Austender documents also indicate that DFAT’s existing WAN services contract “expires in late 2014, requiring a new contract to be established”. However, the supplier has not been published.
In November 2013, DFAT’s $1.1 million contract with Fujitsu for the management and support of the agency’s service desk expired.
DFAT has a number of additional procurements planned for the second half of 2013-14. These include:
- Multi-Level Secure Infrastructure in Q4 2013/14
- Secure Mobile Telecommunications in Q4 2013/14
- LAN/WAN Hardware Equipment in Q3 2013/14
- Secure Systems Hardware Panel in Q4 2013/14
The request for EOIs closes on 13 March 2014.
For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.