Finance’s freshly minted Government 2.0 blog may be just days old, but it is already prompting detailed discussion on how the Federal Government can improve its tendering and procurement processes.
Posting as a comment on the site, online director at the Department of Health and Ageing, Craig Thomler, offered a raft of recommendations aimed at improving the procurement process, such as the standardisation of tenders for common products and services such as HR, content management systems and telephony services.
“I have observed that different government departments often seek to procure similar or identical systems… however each department creates its own [request for tender] separate to the others,” the post reads. “There appears to be limited cross-fertilisation or standardisation of how the same requirement is written, making it difficult for vendors to sometimes understand and interpret the key requirements.”
To address this, a government ‘playbook’ of key requirements, shared among departments, could aid vendors in better understanding tender requirements, Thomler suggested.
To further assist vendors in their tendering, Thomler recommended the introduction of a rebate to SME-sized companies to help cover the costs of tendering to the Government, and a plain English summary for each tender.
“Given the number of government tenders released at all three levels, plus commercial tenders, any mechanisms that help potential respondents to very quickly review and assess whether they wish to commit time to a response will aid vendors and potentially increase the quality of responses,” the post reads.
Thomler also questioned the common requirement that tender responses be lodged in Microsoft’s proprietary Word or Excel format when alternatives such as Open Office and Google Docs existed.
Nigel Russell, of collaboration vendor NoMad Meetings, wrote in his post that, while input from SMEs was being sought by Government, the overhead costs required to respond to a tender was frequently too great. As a result, a separate or single section for SMEs to respond to could increase submissions from smaller tenderers.
“An SME response area will raise the level of innovation for the project, open up the minds… and provide a supported opportunity for the SME to engage,” the post reads. “We need to feel that the words ‘encourage SMEs’ are matched with appropriate language and empathetic requirements in the tender, and a genuine desire and mechanism to seek input from SMEs.”
As reported by Computerworld Australia, the Gov 2.0 blog is being trialled by the Department of Finance and Deregulation to tender a panel of providers for Telecommunications Operational Management Services (TOMS).
The quality of responses to Finance’s Government 2.0 blog stands in stark contrast to the Department of Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy’s latest Government 2.0 effort, a wiki asking for comment on the NBN Implementation Study.
While comments initially trickled in, the wiki has slowly gained traction among readers since its 6 May launch. However, most comments relate to the quality of the wiki itself, rather than the NBN Implementation Study.
“I can't add anything new, or edit outside the narrow categories. I wanted to add 'plain English' translations of each recommendation, but that's blocked. I can only comment on it as is. So the whole point of the wiki has been removed. Good job, DEBACLE,” one reader posted.
“Why don’t you explain your summaries and recommendations in plain English so that everyone can understand what on earth you are talking about?” another post reads.
“53 Pages for the Executive Summary? Can we have a Summary of the Summary please?” a further post reads.
One reader was also critical of the wiki for breaching its own privacy guidelines.
“The privacy statement says: A contributor’s email address will not be published on the wiki’ However, if you create a user account and use your email as your user ID, then your email address is in fact visible,” the post reads.
Following this, a Department of Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy moderator posted: “Apologies if any email addresses were temporarily visible, this problem should now be rectified.”