The last two years have seen significant attention directed at improvements to government contract management. Developments have included:
- “Coordinated procurement”: Basically, a standard contract and pricing arrangement available to all agencies across government)
- “Cooperative procurement”: The formal term for ‘piggybacking’ on another agency’s contract, or ‘clustering’ with other agencies for purchasing common good or services).
Both have become common terms in the government purchasing lexicon
More recently, AGIMO has turned its attention to “optimisation of ICT panels”.
Speaking at last week’s 3rd annual Technology in Government & the public service, AGIMO acting Division Manager Trevor Smallwood indicated that work was underway to review the more than 40 ICT supplier panels currently in place with various agencies, many of which were duplications but for varying terms around, for example, treatment of IP. After a consultation process, Smallwood indicated the objective was to implement a process to optimise these various ICT panels. Presumably, this means fewer panels with a more common set of requirements and contractual terms and conditions.
Some indications are already starting to emerge.
Last week, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) released a Request for Tender to establish a panel of suppliers of ICT contract personnel. This follows closely on Centrelink’s RFT for application programming services, which closed earlier this month.
The two RFTs represent quite different approaches, but are both in line with AGIMO’s general thrust:
- DEEWR is basically seeking a range of providers covering different contractor skills;
- Centrelink, while retaining its existing ICT Contractor Panel, approached the market requesting tenders from organisations capable of providing a broad set of ICT services, including the capability to integrate these. The Centrelink RFT replaces two existing panels – one for Application Services, the other for Integration Services.
The Gershon Report was very critical the use of contract labour, especially where used basically to maintain ‘business-as-usual’ activities, and recommended that use of ICT contractors be cut, to be replaced by recruitment of permanent staff. This is already underway.
However, in developing its approach to “optimising ICT panels”, there may be scope for further development. This could include such as outcome or performance based contracting,. This aligns the ICT supplier into achieving the overall project outcome. In addition, because of risk sharing, there is an equivalent opportunity to share rewards associated with any IP developed.