Lead agencies procuring services for the Internet Gateway Consolidation Program will need to work in harmony with the whole-of-government Internet Based Network Connections (IBNC) Panel, recent tenders have revealed.
Tender documents released by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet point to a complex procurement process that could also form part of subsequent secure internet gateway requests for tender (RFT) within the Federal Government.
In both of these instances, the gateway services will be sourced via an open RFT. However, the preferred supplier will be required to be:
a) A member of the IBNC Panel; or
b) Willing to subcontract a component of the work to an IBNC panelist.
Since the IBNC Panel was established in July 2011, it has been mandatory for all FMA ACT agencies to use it to procure data carriage services through a process managed by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
The scope of both the DAFF and PM&C RFTs overlap with the scope of service provision covered by the IBNC panel.
According to tender documents released by DAFF, AGIMO has concurrently released a request for quotation to all IBNC panelists for the data carriage component of the DAFF tender, the results of which will be passed on to DAFF for consideration within the context of its shortlisted tenderers.
A similar process is likely to take place when the PM&C approaches the market to establish its internet gateway on 4 November 2011, according to a Pre-Release Notice published on Austender.
While both DAFF and PM&C have outlined a willingness to enter into a prime contract where a subcontractor provides the IBNC component, it is likely that IBNC panelists with a gateway provision capability will enjoy an advantage through their ability to provide an end-to-end solution under a single contract. Such a capability is likely to give rise to the best overall ‘value for money’ assessments, given that they are likely to yield the most favourable risk assessments.
“PM&C proposes to establish a contracts with a single legal entity that will be the party responsible for delivery of all services,” according to its Pre-Release Notice. “Tenderers therefore will be required to either be on the IBNC panel or subcontract with an organisation on the IBNC panel to ensure that [secure internet gateway service] SIGS is provided by a single legal entity.”
“To the greatest extent possible, consistent with government policy and a best value for money, the Customer wishes to achieve an end-to-end service delivery, including any required IBNC services,” the DAFF tender docs say.
Four vendors currently have IBNC panel membership as well as Gateway Certification from the Defence Signals Directorate. This certification allows them to provide secure internet gateway services to Federal Government agencies. They are:
- Macquarie Telecom
According to the DAFF tender, preferred suppliers will have up until a specified transition date to obtain DSD certification in order to qualify for the contract. This ability to seek DSD certification is likely to be a feature of future secure gateway services arrangements.
Despite the complex and potentially costly nature of the gateway procurement process successful suppliers will be rewarded through the potential for long term contracts.
The initial term of the DAFF contract will be five years, with five one year options resulting in a potential duration of ten years.
The PM&C contract will have an initial term of three years with two options to extend by three years, resulting in a potential duration of nine years.
The history of government outsourcing has shown that suppliers are more likely than not to have their contracts renewed for the full permissible period. Incumbent suppliers also gain detailed understanding of an agency’s requirements, which can be of great value when it comes to bidding for future work.
The Internet Gateway Consolidation Program aims to dramatically reduce the number of gateways in use across the Federal Government, with both financial and security objectives in mind.
In 2010, the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s incoming government brief to Special Minister for State Gary Gray said that the gateway program aimed to reduce the number of gateways in use across the Federal Government from the then level of 124 to between four and eight.
Eight major agencies have been appointed leads to establish these gateways, for their own use and on behalf of a cluster of ‘client agencies’. The lead agencies are:
- The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C);
- the Department of Defence;
- the Australian Taxation Office (ATO);
- the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR);
- the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS);
- the Department of Human Services (DHS);
- the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF); and
- the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
Submissions to the DAFF RFT close on 31 October 2011, with the contract due to commence early in 2012.