Substantial changes to the range of IT panel contracts in place in NSW, and to the rules relating to how agencies go about procuring the solutions they require are now substantially in place.
A number of years in the making, these changes stem from a Premier’s Memorandum issued in November 2006 by acting Premier John Watkins. In essence these procurement changes consisted of:
- A requirement to use State Contracts Control Board whole-of-government contracts, where they are available, when procuring goods and services.
- An intention to introduce an Agency Accreditation Scheme for Goods and Services Procurement.
- The further support for electronic procurement.
- The establishment of smartbuy, as the default whole of government electronic procurement system.
- The introduction of electronic tendering on the eTendering website.
This week, the medium looks at the requirement to use State Contracts Control Board whole-of-government contracts, where available, when procuring goods and services. This has become somewhat easier for agencies, who are now faced with a choice of only eight active Information Technology panel contracts. Telecommunications contracts are handled separately.
Back in 2004 when Intermedium started tracking New South Wales ICT panel contracts, there were almost 50. This meant that there was a significant likelihood that an ICT good or service would be available through a State Contract and that the budget-dependent agencies would be required to utilise the panel contract.
The reduction in the number of contracts has happened progressively over the last five years. The contracts that remain are as follows:
- Contract 2007 for PCs notebooks and services which will expire on 30 April 2010. It now incorporates the previous panel contract for Apple computers.
- Contract 846 for UNIX System Platform hardware - midrange, mainframe, storage computer systems, software and associated services. It commenced in November 2003, was extended to 2007 and technically expired in November of 2009.
- No information is available about when the new information and communication technology services panel 2020 will come into force. Thus contract 2036 for software development suppliers still remains active. This is despite early expectations that information about the membership of 2020 would be available around February 2009.
- In a surprise development contract 2013 for Novell Common Use Software was renewed. It commenced on 1 July 2008 and will expire in June 2010. This is the only common use software contract remaining of the family of such contracts previously in place.
- Contracts 2600 and 2601 for Oracle and SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) Government Selected Application System (GSAS) have been given 10 year terms ending in March 2018. Associated contract 2626 for System Implementation and Managed Services (SIMS) for Oracle and SAP expires in March 2011 with the potential to extend to 2013.
- The Information Asset Management Software contract 2602 is for software applications that ‘capture, manage and store a variety of information in an integrated manner covering both physical and digital information such as records, documents, web content, business system data, emails, images, audio, video, maps’. It commenced in June 2008 and is due to expire in May 2011 with a contract extension option to May 2013.
No information is available on what will ultimately happen with Microsoft Common Use Software contracting in NSW. The previous contract, 2310 expired on 20 June 2009 and agencies have been directed to utilise the Software Asset Management (SAM) tools, framework and policy instead. According to the IT industry global standard Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), SAM is defined as “…all of the infrastructure and processes necessary for the effective management, control and protection of the software assets…throughout all stages of their lifecycle”.
Under the Procurement Reforms, “where no state contract is available agencies can undertake their own procurement in accordance with the General Purchasing Delegation. The General Purchasing Delegation specifies actions according to procurement value ranges; up to $3,000, over $3,000 and up to $30,000, over $30,000 and up to $250,000, and over $250,000 (all inclusive of GST amounts).”
Agencies are therefore able to procure through an approach to the full market where their requirement cannot be fulfilled by anyone of the eight panel contracts. On the face of it, this might seem like good news to ICT suppliers who are not on any of these panel contracts. The rub, however, is just what sort of solution cannot be fulfilled under the panel contracts. Arguably, they will fall into the software category and if this is the case, it may still be that the services required to implement will come from the new 2020 panel contract when it is put in place.