Government opens e-commerce business to competition

Federal agencies and departments are now able to consider proposals from electronic commerce service providers who compete with Telstra under a new procurement scheme.

The federal Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, said the changes freed agencies and departments from having to use Telstra's Transigo service to deliver electronic commerce.

Alston said the new arrangements were the result of a number of factors, "particularly the trend to devolve greater market responsibility to agency and departments heads and the maturing of the marketplace to a point where a much greater range of electronic commerce service providers and products are now available".

Under the arrangements, agencies must use Transigo to advertise public business opportunities and notify purchases valued at more than $2000-plus in the purchasing and disposals gazette on Transigo until June 30 1999.

"In the interim, the Office for Government Online in the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts will assess alternative gazettal arrangements," Alston said.

The changes, according to a spokesman for Senator Alston, followed a review of the scheme, which was one plank of the government's raft of electronic service delivery initiatives, in mid-1998. The review recommended the agencies and departments be given more flexibility in selecting electronic commerce procurement services.

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