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New Defence panel expands cybersecurity capability

by Justin Hendry •
Free resource

Topics: Labour Hire; IT Services; Cybersecurity; Fed.

The Department of Defence is wasting no time getting government cybersecurity capabilities up to speed, approaching the market for ICT professional services under the new Technical Support Services (TSS) Panel six months earlier than envisioned.

The panel will chiefly be used to source Top Secret Positive Vetted (TSPV) ICT business support, technical ICT and ICT security personnel to support “ICT operations and capability development undertaken by the Australian Signals Directorate” (ASD), tender documents state.

ASD is responsible for providing cybersecurity advice and assistance to government, as well as responding to cyber threats, and provides the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) with “high-powered computing resources” to ensure “the centre is able to process large volumes of data to identify cyber threats.”

It also provides ICT services and capabilities to other Defence Intelligence Agencies (DIAs), including the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Geospatial Organisation, and works with Defence’s Chief Information Officer Group, which provides ICT services to non-DIAs ICT users that operate in the Secret and below ICT domains.

Defence estimates the value of the new panel at between $50 million and $90 million during the life of the arrangement (four years with a four year extension).

The TSS panel replaces the Technical, Project Management, Document and Training Services Panel, which has been responsible for 625 contracts worth a total of $235.5 million over the last seven years, according to Intermedium’s Analyse IT tool.

It consists of several diverse organisation types, including large multi-national Defence companies, labour hire companies and owner managed organisations. The most successful supplier on the panel is Lockheed Martin with $58.2 million in total contract value (spread over 118 contracts), followed by Hewlett-Packard with $27.7 million (60 contracts), and UXC Limited with $16.9 million (69 contracts).

ASD intends to appoint approximately 10 suppliers to the new panel instead of the current 36 with “preference… given to tenders that are capable of sourcing a broad range of ICT and business skill sets.”

“It has become apparent that having over 30 panel members is not desirable from a management perspective; particularly as less than half of the existing panel members bring significant resource depth and capacity…”

“Ideally ASD would like to engage organisations that are good at finding service provider personnel with the right skill sets and in particular that can find new resources to bring into the environment.”

Despite ASD intending to appoint fewer suppliers, it is expected that personnel numbers may grow to 400 TSPV personnel, as well as a number of lower classified personnel (although this is still unknown), due to increased capability requirements. There are currently 250 personnel under the existing panel arrangement.

The release of the Request for Tender (RFT) comes only two months after the release of the Pre-RFT, and the 2016 Cyber Security Strategy, which announced $195.1 million in new funding for the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD), Defence, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Department of Education and Training.

Defence received the second largest portion of the funding, after the AGD, with $51.1 million allocated over four years to improve the capabilities of ASD and ACSC, including $11 million to improve the capability to identify vulnerabilities within agency systems and provide technical security advice on emerging technologies.

This complements the $300 to $400 million over ten years that was allocated to the Cyber Security Capability Improvement program in the 2016 Defence White Paper.

Submissions to the RFT will close on 16 August 2016.

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