Following more than two years of hints that a NSW accreditation scheme for suppliers was to be implemented, the NSW Department of Commerce quietly launched its scheme on 14 June with the issue of an ‘Expression of Interest’ to ICT suppliers.
The new arrangements are intended to replace panel arrangements which have existed for some time and have been "restrictive for both suppliers and buyers" according to Part D of Commerce‟s EOI document.
Once implemented, the Accreditation Scheme arrangements will leave less than 20 other ICT panel contracts in place. This is down considerably from the 42 or so panel contracts that existed three years ago. Those that remain are predominantly for the supply of hardware or software.
A key feature of the scheme will be the levels of accreditation to which suppliers will be subject. Accreditation level will be determined by the length of time the company has been providing ICT services and its turnover.
Only companies with more than five years of experience in providing ICT services and a minimum turnover of $1 million from ICT services for each of the last two years will be able to undertake ICT projects with a value greater than $500,000 but less than $10m.
The document is not clear on what will happen for projects larger than $10 million, but based on existing procurement policy, it is highly likely that they will have to be contested in the open market.
In addition, companies on the panel will be required to self assess based on a capability maturity model with five levels in it from „initial‟ through to „optimising‟. Agencies will undertake a similar assessment of the accredited supplier and rank them on the same scale.
The EOI, (due at 9:30 am on 16 July), is for a “Whole of Government‟ approach.
The objectives of the approach, as stated in the EOI document are to:
- Reduce the total cost of ICT and enable service to be delivered at a lower cost among agencies
- Identify opportunities for the NSW government to concentrate (volume) purchase
- Simplify procurement processes for suppliers and agencies
- Improve supplier performance and evaluation, and
- Increase sharing of supplier performance information
The document also links the Accreditation Scheme to the NSW ICT Strategic Plan “People First” with its references to strategic sourcing, performance based contracts and shared purchasing arrangements. The document goes on to explain that rationalisation of the panel contracts commenced with ITS 2007 –Personal Computing; the Government Telecommunications Agreements (GTAs) and continued with GSAS.
Nine panel contracts will be replaced with the new arrangement. They include 2001 IT Consultancy; 2036 Software Development Contractors and 2319 Security Products and Services. The arrangement will exclude the services supplied under the ITS 2007, GTA, GSAS and Expert Panel Contracts.