The NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) has approached the market for mobile devices on behalf of its counterparts in Victoria and Queensland in an example of cross-jurisdictional procurement that could become increasingly visible as the east coast states’ ICT directions align.
NSWEC is inviting expressions of interest (EOI) for the supply of 5,900 tablets to itself, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) and the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ).
The distribution of tablets for each jurisdiction has been specified, with 1,500 for NSW, up to 2,500 for Queensland, and 1,500 for Victoria. Tender documents also state the potential requirement for an additional 400 units for VEC’s vVote electronic voting project with separate device specifications, including application requirements for low vision voters.
Suppliers are asked to provide separate pricings for volumes of 2,000 units, 3,500 units, 5,000 units and 5,500+ units, indicating that the states are evaluating the financial benefits of combined approaches to market for similar requirements.
Core specifications for the fleet of tablets include minimum requirements of:
- 1 GB RAM with 16 GB additional storage;
- Android 4.0 operating system;
- 7-inch and 10.1-inch multi-touch screens;
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities;
- Mini USB, microSD and SIM card slots; and
- Battery power requirements of at least 10 hours of data access and document browsing.
The devices will be used “for a range of electoral activities, including the training of Electoral Returning Officers in the processes of conducting elections in the Eastern States of Australia”, according to EOI documents.
The first of the three states’ elections will be held in Victoria in November 2014. Elections in NSW and Queensland are expected to follow in March 2015 and June 2015 respectively.
Following the close of EOI submissions on 8 November 2013, NSWEC expects to issue a request for proposal on 18 November. The resulting contract is expected to commence in May 2014.
The joint approach to market reflects the growing convergence of ICT directions across the east coast states. All three states have released ICT strategies in the past two years and increased the level of industry engagement and advice on ICT directions through the use of ICT advisory boards. The states have also been looking to change their traditional ICT procurement models and have been exploring options for achieving cost savings through optimising use of whole-of-government panels, through outsourcing and by purchasing ICT on an as-as-service basis.
Cross-jurisdictional procurement is already facilitated by many whole-of-government panels at the state and federal level that allow access for other governments. NSW ProcurePoint, the centralised procurement portal for whole-of-government panels and contracts, notes that “a number of other jurisdictions utilise [its] contracts”. The list of eligible customers, updated in June 2013, contains a number of agencies from other jurisdictions including the Queensland Government Chief Procurement Office, the Queensland Department of Education, Queensland Health, the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance, Victoria Police and Health Purchasing Victoria.
Although a number of provisions for multi-jurisdictional and cross-jurisdictional procurement are available to governments across Australia, there is little evidence of their use to date.
However, hardware procurement such as that being undertaken by NSWEC has considerable potential as a candidate for joint procurement due to its relatively standardised nature and limited requirements for customisation.
Bodies such as electoral commissions are also good candidates for shared procurement approaches. Such agencies perform specialised functions and are likely to be communicating with each other to share expertise in their specialist areas. Shared procurement could be an extension of that processes.
Another potential example of cross-jurisdictional solution sharing that has emerged recently is the former Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’ (now split into the Department of Education and the Department of Employment) Parliamentary Workflow Solution. The solution is being deployed as a whole-of-government solution at the federal level and could potentially be adapted for use in other jurisdictions.