Federal Government ICT procurement is back in the swing of things in 2011 with several large agencies releasing significant Requests for Tender (RFT) over the last few weeks. In Intermedium’s experience, the number of RFTs released is a lead indicator of the amount of ICT activity, and the latest data has shown three successive quarters of rises in the number of RFTs.
The reason for the rises is most likely the inexorable underlying uptake of ICT for more and more business solutions, which has seen the market grow on an annualised basis by 9%, according to Intermedium’s analysis of AusTender contracts data.
Intermedium’s tender database shows tendering activity is up sharply in 2010-11 with 161 ICT RFTs having been published in financial 2010-11 to date, compared to 129 in the corresponding period in the previous financial year: an increase of 25%.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has been particularly active in 2010-11 with 35 RFTs year to date, of which 30 have been for the provision of IT personnel. The ATO stands alone amongst agencies in issuing individual RFTs for labour hire contracts. Most other agencies have labour hire panel arrangements to cover this need and reduce the procurement overhead. This compares with 15 labour hire RFTs in the corresponding period in the previous financial year.
The ATO ICT Application Services Panel RFT closed in December 2010.
The Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) was also very active releasing 19 tenders, predominantly related to Telecommunications.
Predominantly on the back of this DMO activity, the Telecommunications category saw the greatest increase in the number of RFTs issued: more than doubling from 15 tenders in the first seven months of 2009-10 to 34 in the same period in 2010-11.
Software also grew significantly – up 55% to 34 tenders for July 2010 to January 2011.
Traditionally the ‘high season’ for RFTs is Quarter 2, particularly in the lead up to Christmas, as agencies come to realise that if they do not release the tender pre Christmas, they may struggle to finalise the evaluation and award the contract before the end of the financial year. Despite concerns the impost of the caretaker period during Quarter 1 (July – September) could delay the traditional procurement cycle, Quarter 2 retained its traditional position as the quarter that had the highest number of RFTs.
Quarter 3 is off to a strong start and January 2011 saw the release of 22 tenders, with the ATO the most active agency in the period publishing five RFTs – all for IT personnel.
The Australian Federal Police also ramped up procurement activity publishing two significant tenders in January, including one for the overhaul of their core computing system as part of their multi-year Spectrum project.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), Treasury and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are among a number of agencies that released tenders in January.