The NSW Government’s decision to use its declared procurement policy for data centres will see the construction of at least two (and up to four) data centres close to Sydney.
A sole provider for government for all aspects of data centres is unlikely and there could be a level of competition for data centre services for each of the 13 newly consolidated agencies.
An important factor of such a two-stage process will be the need to clearly detail where NSW jobs will be provided and how, even though the rationalisation process itself is aimed at getting a better bang for the government dollar.
As indicated in Part 1 of this update, the NSW Government’s declared procurement policy will encompass departments, statutory authorities, trusts and other government entities to “provide the framework for agencies to achieve value for money from their procurement whilst being fair, ethical and transparent”. State Owned Corporations (SOC. Act) are exempt.
The vehicle for the data centre consolidation implementation strategy is the Department of Commerce’s (DoC) use of tendering arrangements, which can include an Expression of Interest (EOI), Request for Information (RFI) and Request for Tender (RFT).
Prior to the procurement process, the project will be subject to the Government’s Gateway review system, adopting an “independent assessment” step to key decision points in the process. If the estimated cost of the project goes beyond $10m or the project is assessed as high risk using the Gateway review, a Gateway Strategic and a Business Case Review must be completed.
The final stage of approval and the Gateway review will allow DoC NSW to move to the market phase along the traditional two-staged NSW Government procurement process. The DoC’s tender website should outline the proposed procurement arrangements, and be listed on the “proposed tenders” page.
The next step in the typical Government procurement process would be to call for an Expression of Interest (EOI) for new data centres. Following an analysis of responses by government, the tender can be finalised.
In addition to the information mentioned above, the EOI for new data centres is expected to require responses to:
- Proposed project scope
- The number of sites to be provided
- Financial arrangements
- Technical/construction details
- Service levels
- Provision of support services etc.
The EOI could be in the marketplace within the next few months while the tender for the provision of new “super” data centres may be available sometime before the end of the financial year (2009-10). Any tender that results from this process can be expected to contain the desired and acceptable options. Further, the tender could be open (to all) or selective (limited to invitees) based on analysis of responses to the EOI.
To be considered cost effective innovative solutions by the NSW Government, the EOI responses must provide a fair level of supporting information, description of the practicability of the offered solutions, risk analysis etc. It is anticipated that a tender consistent with EOI responses, offers and government policies should emerge.
The EOI is likely to allow bidders the opportunity to put forward their proposals based on ICT best of breed principles, (realistic) cost estimates, provision of data storage platforms, operation of the same, and possibly total outsourcing.
As Health and DET will be the anchor tenants, the provision of underlying support services and utilities such as power and air-conditioning will be crucial. Bidders should be prepared to address these aspects in detail, remembering that data centres in both Victoria and the Commonwealth had major outages in 2009 due to commercial power failures.
The project will be likely to require the use of the NSW Government Telecommunications Agreements (GTAs) Category 1A (Data Services) contracts and the linking of the data centres as well as NSW agencies.