Updated 2:30 pm: The Victorian Government’s primary telecommunications purchasing arrangement will soon be replaced with a new scheme called VicConnect, with Technology Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips calling on industry members to share their views on a draft reform plan.
Rich-Phillips said that after 10 years buying under the terms and conditions of the Telecommunications Purchasing and Management Strategy (TPAMS) panels, it is time that the State’s public sector significantly reformed the way that it procures these types of services.
“Technology and market changes offer a timely and substantial opportunity to transform how we purchase and manage ICT services.
“A new approach is needed to provide better services, reduce costs and increase competition. It is also important to introduce a more flexible approach that is adaptive to new technologies and markets,” he said in a statement.
While the shape and size of the VicConnect model has not yet been revealed, this pursuit of “flexible” and “adaptive” arrangements could well see VicConnect transformed into a perpetually open, multi-use list style procurement vehicle following on from similar changes recently applied to the State’s whole-of-government eServices Panel, which will soon be replaced with an eServices Register.
Applications are due to open this month for the eServices Register, which will be open to any supplier meeting minimum viability requirements and will be refreshed at frequent intervals.
The existing TPAMS suite comprises of three mandatory whole-of-government telecommunications panels, estimated to have been worth a combined $461 million since the arrangement was established in 2004. The three service categories include:
- Telecommunications Carriage Services – provided by Optus and Telstra;
- Victorian Office Telephony Services – provided by NEC; and
- The Whole-of-Victorian Government Internet Services – provided by EFTel, Netspace, Optus and Pacnet.
Despite all formally expiring at various points during 2012, the TPAMS deals have been extended indefinitely as the Victorian Government weighed up its options for the future.
The outcome of this review period was first hinted at in the draft version of the State’s ICT Strategy, released for feedback in October 2012, which told of a “next generation” approach to telecommunications supply, which would provide the Government with a “a common, high-speed, integrated platform for government communications.”
“Government will procure a common data and communications platform. A common platform does not mean a single provider,” explained the document.
It can be expected that an approach to market to establish any new arrangements will take place once industry consultation has been finalised, and a formal VicConnect plan has been approved, however the Victorian Government has as yet given no indication of when this is likely to take place.
Update 21/03/2013: Victorian Technology Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips has provided the following response:
"The market consultation phase will be completed in May 2013. Further steps to progress the VicConnect platform, including the need for and details about an approach to market, will considered after the feedback from the market consultation has been assessed.
"VicConnect is a significant transformational project to determine a new approach to the Victorian Government’s telecommunications services, including the design and type of services and how they are delivered, as well as how they are procured," he said.
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