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Federal interim data centre panel nears expiry

by Staff Writers •
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The Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Finance), the Hon. Lindsay Tanner, is due to respond to the Australian Government Information Management Office’s (AGIMO) Strategic Data Centre Plan by the end of March, according to media sources

 However, given the timing of the submission of the plan to the Minister, and its stated due date, it is much more likely the Plan will be a key part of budget deliberations on the amount of funding that should be allocated to agencies for data centre purposes and that announcements would be made in the context of the Budget, rather than earlier.

The Data Centre Plan, which was submitted to Minister Tanner in December last year, forms part of the ICT Reform Program led by AGIMO as part of the strategic review of whole-of-government ICT.

The Plan is part of AGIMO’s response to the Review of the Australian Government’s Use of ICT conducted by UK public sector efficiency expert Sir Peter Gershon.  The Plan outlines an ICT strategy for the Federal Government that sees a more coordinated approach to data centre operations (Recommendation 5.1), potentially saving up to $1 billion over 15 years.

AGIMO is “currently developing the whole of government data centre strategy for the next ten to fifteen years”, according to the Finance website.  “Information on the data centre strategy,” it says, “will be published after the Government has considered the strategy.” 

It is almost certain that the new shared services arrangements being put in place within Human Services and its emergent ‘super-agency’ requirements for data centre space will be an important component of those deliberations.

To allow some time for the long term Data Centre Plan to be put in place, AGIMO issued an expression of interest (EOI) in May 2009 for “the provision of immediate and interim data centre facilities” because certain key agencies were running critically low of space. 

On 9 December 2009, the results of the whole-of-Government panel selection process were published.  The interim panel runs from September 2009 to March 2010 (this end date perhaps validating the suggestion that the strategy will be announced by end March).

The suppliers on the panel are:

  • Canberra Data Centres Pty Ltd;
  • Fujitsu Australia Limited;
  • Global Switch Property (Aust) P/L;
  • Harbour MSP Pty Ltd;
  • SPDEF #2 Pty Ltd; and
  • Springfield Real Estate Sales Pty Ltd. 

The agencies participating in the panel are:

  • Centrelink
  • Department of Defence
  • Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
  • Department of Parliamentary Services
  • Therapeutic Goods Administration

Of the suppliers and agencies participating in this panel, only one contract appears to have been published to date that is likely to be part of this procurement arrangement - a Centrelink contract with Canberra Data Centres for $4.88m which runs from 1 September 2009 to 31 August 2011.

“In the absence of such a plan, the Government will be forced into a series of ad hoc investments which will, in total, cost in the order of $1 billion more than a coordinated approach over a 15-year period,” the Gershon report said.

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