The Federal Government has begun to make material use of the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s recommendations, launching interactive tools and a more open process around its tender listings.
The initiative is being trialled by the Department of Finance and Deregulation around its tendering for a Panel of Providers for Telecommunications Operational Management Services (TOMS).
It sees the use of direct, personal communication between the Department and tenderers through the use of a Gov 2.0 blog hosted on the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
In the post, AGIMO’s Mundi Tomlinson said one of the challenges of the government procurement process was ensuring that the ICT industry could provide the services that government needed.
“We do that by conducting market research and talking to industry and agencies. However, probity rules limit how much we can say unless we say it to everyone,” he said. “Now, with the advantages provided by Gov 2.0, we can ask everyone.”
The Government’s existing procurement system relies on a login and password to access current tenders. Responses to any phone or email queries from a potential tenderer are offered by an often slow and cumbersome Q&A amendment to the specific tender.
Tomlinson said there were a range of ways to open up and improve this process using Gov 2.0 techniques including wikis and crowd sourcing.
“We’re starting with a simple post and a link to the draft [request for tender] documentation for one of our telecommunications initiatives and asking interested readers, from industry or the general public, to offer their opinions and thoughts, either generally or specifically,” the post reads. “To that end, as you’ll see, the draft document has line numbers so you can refer to specific areas.”
Kevin Noonan, research director, Public Sector at Ovum said he applauded the initiative as it addressed a central issue in the procurement process – industry engagement with government.
“The issue in the past is that when it comes to tenders the probity issue comes into play and shutters on communication come down,” he said. “With this initiative, they’ve talked about the lawyers, explained what the ground rules are, and already there is more open communication.”
The initiative also had the potential to benefit both government and the industry, Noonan said.
“There is an efficiency potential in this as there’s a greater likelihood that government will actually get the good and services they want,” he said. “For the industry it gives them a way they can better direct the dollars they spend on tendering.”