The Queensland Government Chief Procurement Office (QGCPO) hopes to go to the market to establish a whole-of-government eServices Panel for the State as early as quarter one of 2012, once it has won the approval of the Department of Public Works (DPW) for its procurement plan.
According to presentation given to industry members in October, the Office is looking to follow in the footsteps of the NSW and Victorian Governments, both of which have large and influential IT Services panels in place.
Suppliers working in the Queensland Government will need to track these developments closely or risk finding themselves shut out of the State’s ICT services market.
Following an industry consultation process that has been underway since March 2010, the QGCPO is proposing a panel that is mandatory for the use central agencies, and optional for the use of the State’s universities, Government Owned Corporations and Local Councils.
The proposed panel will be based around six main categories and 20 sub-categories, the structure of which will be roughly based against the Customer Contract Modules of the Government Information Technology Contracting (GITC) Framework.
Once the proposal has been signed off by the appropriate authorities, panel membership will be determined by an open tender process. The criteria for the process, according to the QGCPO, will be focused around GITC accreditation, expertise, available resources for deployment and references per category.
Unlike its neighbours in Victoria and NSW, however, the QGCPO says that it will not ask suppliers to tender their best price offer in order to secure a place.
“QGCPO can confirm it does not intend to ask prospective panellists to make a price commitment as part of the tendering process,” said a spokesperson for the DPW.
The QGCPO has also forecasted that the final panel will have a $10 million maximum threshold for single procurements.
Its predecessor, the Victorian eServices Panel, also started out with a maximum procurement threshold, set at $1 million. However this was removed as part of the first panel refresh in February 2011. There is no upper limit on the value of contracts that can be procured under the current eServices Panel in Victoria.
The QGCPO has also suggested that the panel be subject to a 12 month renewal cycle, which is much more frequent that any of the equivalent panels in other jurisdictions.
One of the key motivations behind the eServices panel proposal is a perceived lack of oversight of ICT Services procurement within the Queensland Government at present.
By channelling all procurement in this category through a central panel, the QGCPO believes it will be able to report accurately on what work has been completed successfully by suppliers and track agency outcomes.
If the NSW and Victorian whole-of-government IT Services Panels, State Contract 2020 and the eServices Panel respectively, are to be used as a guide, it can be predicted that somewhere in vicinity of 300 suppliers could be included on the panel.
The Victorian Government was subject to an industry backlash in July when it attempted to cut 65 suppliers from its eServices panel, taking it down to less than 200. It has recently announced the appointment of 180 panellists, which has more than appeased its critics and expanded the panel to an unprecedented 368 suppliers. NSW currently sits on 305.
Elsewhere in Australia, the South Australian Government has in place a general panel for the Provision of Temporary Staff, including IT Staff.
The Western Australian Government sources IT Services through Common Use Agreement (CUA) 14008, which is mandatory for use in the Perth region.
In Tasmania, government agencies are obliged to use the Networking Tasmania II (NT II) whole-of-government contract for the procurement of data communications, Internet and related services, including managed network, connection, filtering and Government directory services.
The Federal Government, through the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has yet to make an announcement regarding the future of the Whole-of-Government IT Services Panel (WISP) that was proposed in December 2010.