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Future opportunities may be hidden in Federal procurement plans

by Staff Writers •
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Purchasing plans are a valuable source of information about the procurement intentions of Federal agencies. Particularly within the current market downturn it is vital to know where the opportunities are so as to target resources and marketing activities accordingly.

The next round of forward procurement plans (FPPs) are set to be published by Federal government agencies by 1 July 2009. Intermedium closely examines every procurement plan to identify each ICT–related opportunity. During 2008-09, Intermedium monitored almost 500 individual ICT projects from almost 130 Federal agencies listed in the FPPs. Furthermore, the plans once published are not static. Plans can be acted upon, amended, delayed or deleted through the course of the year.

Intermedium has found that the only way of dealing with changes is by detailed, point-to-point comparison between versions of the procurement plans.

For those brave enough to track agency procurement plans themselves, here are a few tips and cautions based on Intermedium's experience.

Like trying to find a needle in a haystack

The sheer volume and complexity of FPPs makes it a very daunting prospect for even the most dedicated sales and marketing professional to track FPPs and their changes. In 2008, more than 120 agencies published procurement plans. Each plan included dozens of individual projects, from pest control and recruitment services to weapon locating radar and supply of a capillary electrophoresis system!

Forward Procurement Plans are not published in a standard format

There is no set standard by which agencies must organise their procurement information. Many agencies do not have a clear structure to their plan or, if they do, they it may be broadly organised by purchasing branch or division.

ICT is not easily identifiable

ICT items may appear anywhere in an agency’s FPP. Even if there is a marked “ITC projects” or similar section, there will be multiple ICT items associated with other projects making sourcing these ICT opportunities a challenging undertaking.

Updates do not occur at regular intervals

Agencies may make changes to their FPPs at any time. These changes include the addition of new projects, deletions of previously advised projects, as well as variations to the timing, descriptions and values of individual projects. Revised procurement plans are published without notice to the AusTender website. As many as 60 changes may occur during a month across all reporting agencies. As these changes are posted through a revised plan they often can only be identified through continual comparison between the original and revised documents.

So the bottom line for those who plan to monitor the FPPs for themselves - expect to invest time and diligence into the research required to set up and maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date list of FPP opportunities.

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