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Finance evaluates future of Telecommunications Arrangements

by Sam Murphy •
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The Department of Finance has opened consultation on potential changes to the Australian Government Telecommunications Arrangements (AGTAs) that facilitate whole-of-government buying arrangements with various providers.

Australian Government Chief Technology Officer John Sheridan has asked for feedback on the current arrangement which has been in place since 1997, posing a number of questions for consideration including “Is there a need to have this type of arrangement?”.

Currently, agencies are required to purchase telecommunications services through Finance head agreements with 52 suppliers. AGTAs enable “agencies to obtain telecommunications at whole of government prices through a Head Agreement framework with standard terms and conditions”, according to the AGIMO website.

The arrangements cover “telephony and telecommunications services including managed services such as telecommunications facilities management and systems integration relating to telecommunications”.

The aim of the arrangements is to reduce the cost of telecommunications goods and their procurement, encourage the adoption of new technology and encourage competition between suppliers.

However, Sheridan’s blog post suggests that AGTAs, in their current form, are becoming outdated. “Since 1997, there have been significant changes in telecommunications. The industry is dynamic, with changes in technology, services and service providers,” it says.

“To ensure that the agreement meets ongoing needs of the Australian Government, Finance is seeking feedback on the current AGTA arrangement, including how well the objectives are being met.”

The consultation asks respondents to consider whether “such an agreement [is] the best way in which government agencies can structure their interactions with the telecommunications industry”, how it could be made more flexible, the potential for an expanded scope, and whether AGTAs are needed at all.

According to Intermedium’s Analyse IT, contracts worth a total of $58.1 million were identified as being signed under AGTAs in the 2012-13 financial year. Intermedium believes that the actual value of contracting through AGTAs is likely to be higher than this figure, as the SONID used to identify AGTA contracts may not always be included when the contract is reported on AusTender.

The largest contract reported against the AGTAs is for the supply of telecommunications services, signed between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and PacNet for $96.5 million. The six-year deal is due to expire in September 2014.

Government agencies can also purchase telecommunications services through a number of whole-of-government panel arrangements.

The Telecommunications Commodities, Carriage and Associated Services (Mobile) panel, established in 2011, provides for the procurement of wireless (mobile) products and services.  It has four suppliers (Optus, TeleDesign, Telstra and Transact Capital Communications) and has so far accrued a total value of $39.3 million.

The Mobile Panel is due to expire on 20 December 2013 with the Government yet to announce what its future will be. The panel is currently under review, with concerns that the mobile hardware component of the panel is not achieving value for money.

Panels for Telecommunications Management and Internet Based Network Connection Services were also established in 2011, and are mandatory for Federal Government agencies.

Feedback on the AGTAs flexibility, objectives and scope is due on or before 1 November 2013. 


View the Finance profile on GovFacts >>>

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For more information, please contact the Editor (02) 9955 9896.


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  • Federal
  • Telecommunications
  • Finance & Services
  • Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)
  • Australian Government Telecommunications Arrangements (AGTA)
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Internet Based Network Connections panel (IBNC)
  • John Sheridan
  • Optus
  • Pacnet
  • Telecommunications Commodities
  • Carriage and Associated Services (Mobile) Panel
  • Telecommunications Management Panel
  • TeleDesign
  • Telstra
  • Transact Capital Communications