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Principles of Engagement to ensure equal opportunity for smaller ICT businesses

by Paris Cowan •
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Measures to improve market accessibility for small and medium sized suppliers are contained in guidelines for Government and ICT industry engagement announced by Finance and Deregulation Minister Lindsay Tanner on Tuesday 25 May. 

Tanner released the guidelines via video message to the eGovernment forum at Sydney’s CeBIT Conference.

Government and Industry Principles of Engagement on ICT is based around 5 target areas:


  • Enabling equitable participation by all small, medium and large enterprises;
  • Ensuring that information requests are fair and assessed in good time; and
  • Recognising that the cost of engagement should be proportional to the value of the activity.


  • Building and maintaining an effective, cooperative relationship;
  • Facilitating the sharing of knowledge and transfer of skills;
  • Encouraging staff to acquire and maintain professional standards, individual competencies and marketplace understanding; and
  • Assigning ICT activities to individuals who have the necessary authority, capability and availability.


  • Demonstrating leadership that is outcome oriented;
  • Ensuring activities are aligned to whole-of-government priorities, strategies and approaches;
  • Managing activities with a high degree of professionalism, integrity, probity and fairness; and
  • Identifying, analysing, managing and mitigating risks to achieve best outcomes.

Problem Resolution

  • Resolving issues through timely, effective and equitable mechanisms and processes.


  • Leading activities towards stated outcomes;
  • Developing an agreed understanding of ICT goals, responsibilities, and timeframes in line with best practice, value for money, and whole-of-life costs;
  • Creating an environment that fosters innovation, builds capability for Government and provides opportunities for Industry; and
  • Abiding by relevant confidentiality, probity and security requirements, in particular those that relate to information or services provided by either party.

A priority is to ensure that small and medium ICT businesses have equal access to tender opportunities, by aligning the costs of bidding to the relative size of a contract.

Ian Birks, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association (which provided input to the document) sees this as a significant outcome for the ICT industry.

“By ensuring that the costs of bidding for government work are commensurate with the outcomes being sought, the ICT industry will also be better placed to consistently deliver stronger outcomes to the Australian taxpayer,” he says.

Other recommendations set out in the guidelines include making sure that information requests are fair and assessed in good time, creating an environment that fosters innovation and respecting relevant confidentiality, probity and security requirements.

“We believe commitment to these principles will encourage a more efficient and productive relationship between Government and industry, deliver better outcomes to both the ICT sector and Government agencies, and foster a culture of innovation that benefits all parties,” says Birks.

The formulation of the guidelines is in keeping with the recommendation of the 2008 review into the Government’s ICT use by Sir Peter Gershon, who highlighted the importance of client and supplier codes of conduct.

This is not the only Gershon recommendation presently being implemented.  The recently released Federal budget included 44 ICT projects to be funded by the savings generated by efficiency measures suggested in the report.

Mr Tanner also told the eGovernment delegation that he will be making a formal statement of commitment to openness in government in the not-too-distant future.

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  • Federal
  • Australian Information Industry Association
  • Department of Finance and Deregulation
  • Gershon Review
  • Ian Birks
  • Lindsay Tanner
  • Principles of Engagement