NSW Finance and Services Minister Greg Pearce has told Parliament that he will continue his campaign against restrictive and unwieldy State Contracts by turning more whole-of-government agreements into simplified pre-qualification processes as their terms expire.
“Procurement panels are costly and time consuming for most suppliers and there is no guarantee of work even if they have jumped through a series of cumbersome hurdles.
“The Government is locked into a few suppliers, often for nearly five years, which limits its access to innovations in the marketplace, including better products and better prices,” Pearce told Parliament on 22 August.
Just months prior he announced that State Contract 2020 for IT Services would be the first panel to be transformed under the new model for whole-of-government procurement.
The changes mean that vendors wanting to supply IT Services to the NSW Government will no longer have to bid for membership of a restricted panel during a renewal process that only takes place once every three to five years.
- Applications for membership will remain constantly open;
- Applications will be submitted through a simplified online form;
- Application requirements will be tiered into low-value, low-risk and high-value, high-risk supplier accreditation categories; and
- Procurements through the arrangement will be subject to simplified contract terms and conditions.
All current 2020 panellists will be automatically pre-qualified for both tiers, with changes due to come into effect before the end of the year.
A spokesperson for the Minister has confirmed to Intermedium that the 2020 changes are due to be extended across other State Contracts as they expire. A number of other major ICT arrangements are due to reach this trigger point within the next 12 to 18 months.
- State Contract 2007 for personal computers and notebooks;
- State Contract 2007S for servers and associated services;
- State Contracts 2600 and 2601 for Oracle and SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software respectively; and
- Government Telecommunications Agreement Category 1 for data services.
The Minister has also told Parliament that the default requirements for professional indemnity insurance will be cut for small low-risk procurements, “to ensure they are commensurate with the services being provided.”
The threshold for procurements allowed to go ahead without the need for quotations has also been raised, from $3,000 to $5,000.
Pearce’s comments came on the same day that the State’s new Procurement Board sat for the first time. The Board, which is made up of Directors-General of each of the Government’s nine principal departments, takes over from the former State Contracts Control Board (SCCB) which was formally abolished by the passage of legislation earlier this year.
The Board will be at the centre of the State’s procurement reform journey. It is due to release a NSW Procurement Strategy Statement in the near future, which will be informed by the findings of a consultation process commenced in January.