The Victorian Government has scrapped its decision to introduce a ratings system for supplier performance under the new eServices Register in a surprise move at a time when other jurisdictions are beginning to adopt evaluation measures.
“The eServices Register will not have a formal system of rating for either suppliers or government users,” says the Government’s information page for the Register.
“Feedback from both industry and government was that ratings are inherently subjective and could potentially be damaging.”
The eServices Register for ICT procurement that came into operation on 1 July 2013 was expected to introduce a similar assessment system to that was used by its predecessor, the eServices Panel.
“We will have an online self-service portal to give both suppliers and government departments a rating on their engagement and service delivery which has been supported by industry,” Victorian Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips said in November 2012.
The outgoing Panel allowed agencies and service providers to report on each other’s performance under categories such as outcomes, schedules, costs, responsiveness and delivery capability. These elements formed a performance scorecard that was available to potential buyers and suppliers through the online portal.
The NSW Government has adopted a version of this system for its new ITS 2573 prequalification scheme for telecommunications equipment, infrastructure and services. Under the scheme, NSW Government agencies and other eligible customers are required to complete feedback forms on supplier performance.
A dedicated ITS 2573 Panel Committee comprised of members from NSW Government agencies and the NSW Telco Authority has been established to review supplier performance based on agency feedback for criteria covering financial management, operational performance, relationship quality and risk.
“Demonstrated unsatisfactory performance” can result in temporary suspension for up to three months from the scheme, according to the rules and conditions.
The Western Australian Department of Finance’s common use agreements also allow agencies to provide performance reviews for contractors. However, these are sent directly to individual contract managers under the current system, rather than being available to agencies.
The Queensland Government Chief Procurement Office, which manages whole-of-government supply arrangements, procured a vendor management system in February 2012. The system is expected to underlie a broader contract management framework that includes a supplier performance evaluation component.
Conversely to the decision made by the Victorian Government, performance evaluation and reporting measures were strongly recommended by a working party report on the eServices Register prior to its establishment.
“The assessment of performance [is] an important aspect of the procurement process for ICT services for both government and industry,” said the report, which goes on to recommend transparency in performance evaluations for government users and the broader ICT industry.
The value of performance evaluation components is also articulated by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in its Best Practice Guide on contract management. The ANAO recommends the provision of information on “the capabilities of each supplier and their performance in delivering contracts under the panel” to aid user understanding and improve the vendor selection process. The ANAO also suggests that evaluation mechanisms can be used to support ongoing monitoring and periodic review of panel usage and effectiveness.
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