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IT Services Panels – Defence shortlists industry partners, and ATO apps panel opens for business

by Paris Cowan •
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The Department of Defence has narrowed its field of potential systems integration panellists down to a final shortlist and expects to be able to announce its selection within the next four weeks.

Otherwise now known as the Application Managed Services Partnership Agreement (AMSPA), the panel is forecast to have more than $340 million worth of systems integration work pass through it over the 2011-12 to 2014-15 timeframe.

Defence will not be releasing any details of the panel membership prior to the finalisation of contract negotiations.

“Defence is currently in negotiations with down-selected preferred tenderers.  An announcement on the successful industry partners will be released in late September - early October 2011, consistent with Commonwealth reporting policy,” a Defence spokesperson told Intermedium.

The establishment of the AMSPA represents a significant break from the Canberra procurement paradigm.  The panel will follow a model of procurement not previously seen in the Federal Government, where the Defence’s application services needs will be met by a select number of Preferred Industry Partner’s (PIPs), which will act as managing conduits between the Department and industry.

A PIP will provide a single point of contact and an end-to-end solution to Defence by co-ordinating sub-contractors on behalf of the Department.  According to the AMSPA tender documents, released in April, the PIPs will also be expected to “enhance industry understanding of Defence Business”.

The final Request for Tender (RFT) for membership to the key panel was released without fanfare as an amendment to a draft RFT published on Austender on 5 April 2011.

As Defence moves towards the completion of the AMPSA panel arrangement, the Australian Tax Office’s (ATO) IT Applications Services panel is now ‘open for business’. 

With the successful panellists named on 15 August, the ATO lost no time in launching the panel into operation.  It entered into a $13.7 million IT Services contract with Accenture for services in support of the Australian Business Register project which has a start date of 26 August 2011, only 11 days after the panel’s publication.

As these panels emerge, the IT Services procurement framework flagged by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) late last year is beginning to take shape.

AGIMO’s objective was to reduce the number of IT Services panels in use across the Federal Government. In December 2010 they released a “straw man” discussion paper which pitched the idea of consolidating the Government’s IT Services work into four panels.

It envisaged that panels would be established by each of the three agencies with the most expansive and complex ICT needs, in recognition that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to panel arrangement would not be suitable within the Federal Government.

Defence, the ATO and the Department of Human Services consistently top Intermedium’s annual Federal Government ICT market rankings as the agencies with the greatest ICT contract totals, and are therefore highly likely to be the agencies that AGIMO had in mind.  These agencies, by virtue of their ‘ICT intensity’ have highly specific needs and for this reason the can mount strong arguments in support of their need to maintain their own IT Services panels.

However, the AGIMO discussion paper suggested, all other agencies would benefit from the streamlined procurement and economies of scale that a Whole-of-Government panel arrangement could offer.  Under the scheme proposed in the AGIMO discussion paper, the WISP would extend these benefits to the remaining agencies.

As Intermedium reported in July, the Department of Finance and Deregulation has posted its intention to go approach the market to establish the WISP between January and March 2012.


Related Articles:

A share of $340 million up for grabs as Defence embarks on journey to transform supplier relations

ATO reveals IT Application Services Panel

AGIMO forges ahead with whole of government panels...but still no WISP

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