Across Australia, all jurisdictions have expressed in their budgets the need to return to surplus as rapidly as possible. This has in turn driven a range of cost saving measures, including staff cuts, the imposition of efficiency dividends and the need to cut ‘supplier costs’.
Such costs include travel, and it has long been expected that governments would get increasingly serious about videoconferencing as a means of reducing travel expenditure. Now various initiatives are pointing to this becoming a reality.
The Western Australian Government has added a panel of videoconferencing suppliers to its recently refreshed Common Use Agreement (CUA) for Audio Visual Solutions.
According to the panel buying guide, it is the “first whole of government framework in Australia to facilitate the procurement of both Audio Visual Services and Products in one unified contract, including Videoconferencing”.
Seven suppliers, including Electroboard, will offer WA agencies a range of videoconferencing solutions and services under the brand new arrangement, replacing the former AV solutions CUA which expired in August 2011.
Agencies will able to source specific videoconferencing hardware, design services, installation and end to end systems through the new panel, which took effect in 11 June 2012. The CUA will run for an initial three year period ending on 10 June 2015 with two further one year extension options, and is mandatory for all Perth metropolitan-based agencies to use.
Cloud computing based videoconferencing services may also be procured as a non-mandatory service through of the CUA, depending on the individual needs of procuring agencies.
Panellists qualifying for the videoconferencing category include:
- Audio Visual Image’nation;
- CDM Optel Audio Visual;
- CHW Consulting;
- Hewshott International;
- KLM Group; and
- Rutledge Engineering.
Intermedium has not identified any other whole-of-government arrangements in Australian which are specific to the provision of videoconferencing facilities and support as yet.
At the Federal level, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) established a videoconferencing service panel for local councils as part of its $17.1 million Digital Local Government program.
The Local Government Association of South Australia is also looking to establish its own council-focused videoconferencing panel, inviting selected vendors to participate in a procurement process which began in May 2012.
The Federal Government’s Telepresence Program, run by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has reportedly outperformed all usage expectations and to have saved an estimated $26 million in travel costs since facilities were established in 2009.
Other Federal agencies adopting the technology include the Department of Human Services, which launched a videoconferencing pilot in March for the Department’s Centrelink, Child Support and Medicare programs.
Intermedium’s analysis of the 2012-13 Federal Government Procurement Plans has found five planned videoconferencing procurements. They are all from small agencies who are likely to feel budget cuts and efficiency dividend impacts most profoundly by virtue of their size.