Purchasing plans are a valuable source of information about the procurement intentions of Federal agencies. For those brave souls who intend to track agency procurement plans themselves, here are a few tips based on Intermedium's experience.
Like trying to find a needle in a haystack
The sheer volume and complexity of published procurement plans makes it a very daunting prospect for even the most dedicated sales and marketing professional. In 2008, more than 120 agencies published procurement plans. Each plan included dozens of individual projects, from pest control and recruitment services to weapon locating radar and supply of a capillary electrophoresis system!
Procurement plans are not standard
There is no standard by which agencies must organise their procurement information. Many agencies do not organise their proposed projects in any particular order, or if they do, they may be organised by purchasing branch or division.
ICT is not easily identifiable
Procurement plans include the full range of goods and services that an agency expects to purchase. Therefore, ICT items may appear anywhere in a procurement plan. Even if there is a section titled "ICT projects" or similar, ICT items associated with other projects will also be included with general project items.
Updates do not occur at regular intervals
Agencies may make changes to their procurement plans at any time. These changes include the addition of new projects, deletions of previously advised projects, as well as variations to the timing, descriptions and values of individual projects. Revised procurement plans are published without notice to the AusTender website. As many as 60 changes may occur during the month.
Changes are not "marked-up"
When changes are made to a procurement plan, the agency usually posts the revised plan without marking-up any changes or amendments. Unless you retain the original version of the document for comparison, it is very difficult to identify these changes.
Expect to invest a lot of energy and careful research to set up and maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date list of procurement plan opportunities.