The NSW Government has continued to change the way that it buys goods and services, following the release of its comprehensive procurement strategy statement in December last year.
It has revealed that next cab off the rank when it comes to reforming whole-of-government panels is the Government’s arrangement for contingent labour, State Contract 100.
The State’s labour hire panel, which expires on 19 April this year, will be replaced by a continuously open pre-qualification scheme, in the same way that State Contract 2020 for IT Services will also be opened up early this year.
Applications are now open for the new scheme. Suppliers will need only to fill out a questionnaire and supply examples of past work and client references to complete their applications. They will be able to submit these applications at any point within the scheme’s term.
“The prequalification scheme will have the advantage of not ‘locking-up’ a market, with new suppliers being able to register at any time and will provide government buyers with immediate access to panels of expert resources,” claims the NSW Procurement website.
The scope of mandatory State Contract 100 includes the procurement of ICT labour hire, across roles ranging from network services, IT management services, change management and applications support. See the full list here.
Affected suppliers are invited to attend an industry briefing on 30 January 2013 for more information on the changes. Suppliers should also be prepared for more State Contracts to be subject to the same treatment, especially where non-commodity and service based goods are concerned.
The NSW Procurement Board, the public sector’s new central procurement authority, has also directed agencies operating their own procurement panels to make them available to the rest of the NSW Government.
“The establishing agency should agree unless the establishing agency considers there are cogent reasons not to do so.
“Examples of cogent reasons may include the incapacity or unwillingness of a supplier to extend the supply as required; or that there is a significant or substantial risk that cannot be managed,” the procurement direction explains.
However this particular procurement reform, which applies to all categories of goods and services, will only have a limited impact on the State’s Government ICT market.
Intermedium’s analysis of agency-based ICT panel arrangements published via the NSW eTendering website suggests that the predominance of mandatory State Contracts over the Government’s ICT market has left little room for agencies to establish their own arrangements, with the exception of Public Trading Enterprises (which are exempt from these procurement rules anyway).
Intermedium has identified 22 agency-based ICT Standing Offer Agreements currently operating in NSW. Of these, 16 have been established by Public Trading Enterprise RailCorp, which is under no obligation to comply with the Procurement Board’s directions. Most of the remainder cover clinical systems used by NSW Health which are unlikely to be of interest to other agencies.
Panel sharing policies have had more of an impact within the Federal Government, which has also implemented a mandatory multi-agency access clause, but limited it to agency IT Services panels.
Under the Portfolio Panels for IT Services Policy, the Federal Government aims to halve the 120 or so IT services currently in place across its agencies by capping the number allowed at three per portfolio. It hopes that by mandating multi-agency access to all new IT services panels it will enhance competition between vendors.
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