Evidencing that the NSW government continues to be happy with its flagship ICT Services Scheme (SCM0020), which has been operational since 2013, the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI) has announced a new Whole-of-Government (WofG) prequalification scheme, aligning with its ICT procurement reform strategy.
The Remote Sensing Services & Equipment Prequalification Scheme (ReSSE) – SCM5841 was established in December 2018 by DFSI’s Spatial Services agency to enable “the acquisition, processing and supply of spatial data and remote sensing services.”
The ReSSE follows the same NSW Government procurement framework as SCM0020, encouraging smaller, simpler contracts and the engaging of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Supplier membership on the Registered Supplier List is dependent on fulfilling requirements as set out in the scheme. The majority of interested suppliers can engage in “low risk” contracts up to $150,000; however, further stipulations, such as more stringent references, are required to prequalify for entry into contracts above this amount.
The streamlined process will especially assist geospatial-focused small enterprises due to its narrower focus and targeted assessment process.
Spatial Services and WofG geospatial procurements had until now been sourced through the Performance and Management Services (SCM0005) mega-scheme, which was established in 2012 prior to the bulk of the NSW procurement reforms.
ReSSE will aim to offer a simpler, more navigable process for both SMEs and buyers as the sole point for WofG geospatial services procurement, with a stricter focus, and a reduction of categories of work from 15 to three.
These three categories of work are:
- Aircraft Services;
- Data and Processing – remote sensing, data, imagery, RADAR etc; and
- Equipment – the remote sensing hardware and software itself.
Suppliers are not restricted to a single category, as long as they can prove capabilities in any of the categories or sub-categories as outlined by the prequalification requirements.
To ensure a close relationship between buyers and sellers, ReSSE is to be governed by a Scheme Committee containing members of the Spatial Services agency. The government hopes this targeted sourcing approach will encourage smoother collaboration and spur geospatial innovation.
The ProcurePoint website suggests to agencies that establishing a prequalification scheme is recommended if agencies have niche categories of required work, a diverse pool of suppliers and a generally high volume of low risk contracts. The process of creating a new prequalification scheme usually takes up to three months to complete.
As the ReSSE falls under the guidance of Spatial Services, it also fulfils the essential NSW procurement reform criteria of having sourcing led by the “best positioned” agency. This is important to ensure suppliers are assessed by end-users themselves who have with specialist knowledge and can expertly assess technical and financial responses by prospective suppliers.
Development of NSW Procurement Reforms
The establishment of the ReSSE reflects a NSW trend in procurement reforms initiated by the then O’Farrell Coalition government, which is to phase out period panel contracts that often restricted supplier numbers to a few players, who in effect could become complacent ‘order takers’. Suppliers with new or innovative solutions would be locked out until the panel’s expiration.
In contrast, prequalification schemes are continuously open, so that any supplier can apply at any time and be placed on the scheme if they meet the requirements.
Some prequalification schemes such as the Contingent Workforce Scheme (SCM0007) and Operational Telecommunication Equipment, Infrastructure and Services Scheme (ITS 2573) are now mandated as the only mode by which any NSW agency can procure these services.
The ICT Services Scheme is also mandated for WofG ICT services, with similar application processes for contracts under and over $150,000. As of November 2018, it consisted of 3,673 suppliers, of which 88 per cent were identified as SMEs. 1,100 SMEs were also prequalified for the Advanced Supplier List, making them eligible for contracts over $150,000.
In another clear indication of its satisfaction with SCM0020, a DFSI spokesperson confirmed with Intermedium that the scheme will be renewed in its current form when it is due to end in February 2019.
Another notable procurement reform in NSW is the recent establishment of the government’s buy.NSW marketplace, which is envisioned as a potentially integral part of the State Government’s new digital transformation roadmap.
Thus far only cloud and data centre services are available on buy.NSW. Cloud suppliers who are members of the ICT Service Scheme are able to participate in the buy.NSW market place.
Buy.NSW operates concurrently with the ICT Services Scheme due to its limited focus, however it is hoped that other ICT services from the Scheme will be available in near future. According to the buy.NSW site, it hopes to “grow to include more ICT and non-ICT procurement pathways” as its development progresses. For example, a cyber security services panel – flagged in the recent WofG Cyber Security Strategy – will be hosted on buy.nsw, NSW CISO Dr Milosavjlevic has confirmed.