Victoria plans to begin taking applications for its reformed whole-of-government eServices Register in March 2013, ahead of a formal cutover to the Register in July 2013.
In a Draft Implementation Plan released by the Department Treasury and Finance (DTF) today, it is anticipated that the new model for ICT services procurement by the State’s public sector will mean that “the process of completing register application will take hours rather than days or weeks”.
The Victorian Government announced in June this year that it would replace the existing fixed-term eServices Panel with a multi-use list style register that would be continuously open to any vendors who met minimum financial sustainability and insurance requirements.
“The register will provide for further competition, increase value for money and allow the government to consider new and innovative technology and services,” said Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips.
It is anticipated that the eServices Register will dramatically reduce the tendering burden on both agencies and suppliers by requiring Register members to produce bids only when competing for specific agency contracts, rather than conducting a tender process at the commencement of the panel as well. The multi-use list model transfers responsibility for assessing value for money to the agency rather than a central procurement authority.
The High-Level Implementation Plan has set out the anticipated parameters of the Register’s operation for feedback from the ICT industry.
It suggests that inclusion on the Register will be determined by suppliers’ willingness to sign a standard eServices contract, and meet minimum insurance and financial sustainability criteria. Financial verification will only take place when a supplier signs its first contract with an agency and will remain active for three years subsequent, to reduce time spent on companies who aren’t awarded any business.
It will be up to suppliers to supply their own descriptions of services offered and past performances, with the DTF raising the possibility that these could become subject to random audits to encourage full-disclosure.
A Government and Industry Working Party report into the eServices Panel, released in June, advised that standard contract templates should follow on from NSW’s Procure IT by making the supplier’s retention of IP rights default, and minimising insurance requirements.
The Victorian Government hopes that the eServices Register will allow it to leverage transparency and performance feedback to achieve value for money in ICT services procurement, rather than relying on price-based bidding processes.
“We are looking to create an online portal to give both suppliers and government departments a rating on their engagement and service delivery,” said Rich-Phillips in a statement.
The Government has signalled an imminent approach to market to buy this online platform, which will manage the registration of suppliers as well as company descriptions and performance feedback. It plans to go ahead with a “buy before build” approach to have the system up and running within its tight timeframe and is looking for a commercial off the shelf solution.
It intends to have the deliverables of the tool firmed up as part of the development of a more detailed Phase Two Implementation Plan to be released in October. It has also conceded that the functionality of the tool might not be ready by the time the eServices Register goes live in July.
“Given the timeframes, DTF recommends that the register contain basic functionality by the start date rather than risking delay as part of developing a more complex software platform,” said the plan.
The NSW Government has recently announced that it will implement similar reforms to its State Contract 2020 for IT Services.