The Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) has flagged its intention to establish a whole-of-government (WofG) ICT services panel. It is scheduled for Quarter 4 of this financial year, according to an entry in its 2010-11 Annual Procurement Plan (APP).
The move to establish such a panel is in line with the Federal Government’s broad intention to establish WofG approaches in accordance with Recommendation 6.1 of the Gershon Review, which was to make ‘ better use of the Government’s collective buying power by optimising the number of ICT panel arrangements established by agencies across government’
According to the Finance website, ‘a working group with representation across Government and industry was established by AGIMO ‘to drive input for this project, with the ICT Panels Arrangement project's deliverable date being September 2009’.
ICT Services is not the only potential ICT WofG panel that Finance is contemplating for 2010-11 in line with adopting the Gershon recommendation. Its APP also lists four other planned panel procurements:
- A telecommunications operational management services panel (Q1);
- A data centre facilities panel (Q2);
- A data centre migration services panel (Q2); and
- A panel of ICT suppliers or resellers for software and related services (Q4).
The first three of these have previously been flagged extensively by Finance and are likely therefore to go ahead. As such, they will join the Major Office Machines WofG panel, the scope of which includes printers and multifunction devices. Pre tender information for this procurement was presented on 25 June 2010 and the procurement is flagged for Q1 in Finance’s APP.
The AAP listing of the ICT Services Panel is the first such mention of this panel, as is the listing of a panel for ICT suppliers or resellers for software and related services.
A comparison of the list of WofG panels now either in place or being contemplated by Finance shows a striking similarity, including in name, of the WofG panel contracts in place in NSW.
The NSW 2020 ICT Services contract has 306 suppliers covering 31 ICT categories ranging from data management to business intelligence to virtualisation, with a further 135 sub-categories. A survey conducted by Intermedium of 2020 panellists suggests that including so many suppliers on this panel has not been particularly successful for suppliers, with many not contacted by agencies to quote for work off the panel in the first year of the panel’s existence.
The NSW panel specifically excludes labour hire, which is bundled into a generic contingent workforce contract, much to the displeasure of many ICT labour hire companies. The inclusion or exclusion of labour hire is likely to be a key consideration by Finance before the approach to market for its ICT Services Panel.
Intermedium analysis shows there were 1019 suppliers of IT Services (i.e. excluding Telecommunications Services) to the Federal Government in 2009-10. Of these, 443 provided labour hire, 61 provided managed services providers, 193 provided systems integration and 130 provided business consulting, with a number of suppliers providing services in more than one IT Services category.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) clearly intends not to wait until sometime after Q4 for the WofG panel for ICT suppliers or resellers for software and related services to be put in place.
On 22 June, it issued an RFT for the provision of ‘software reseller services including maintenance, support and the ability to consolidate Symantec and Adobe product suites’. It was careful however, to state that ‘potential providers should note that it is Commonwealth policy to develop a centralised procurement system for the delivery of certain goods and services to Commonwealth departments and agencies’ and that ‘the process of identifying such goods and services is currently underway...it is therefore possible that the Commonwealth may approve the procurement of some or all of the same goods or services to the Commonwealth under a centralised process’.
Furthermore it stated that if the Commonwealth does put in place such a centralised process, it reserves the right to discontinue the RFT process, not proceed with any contract or terminate any contract ‘for convenience, without compensation for loss of prospective profits’.