The NSW Opposition’s plan to double the number of whole-of-government procurement contracts over the next five years has been tipped as a way to achieve serious cost savings, but implementing the plan could be a major challenge, a government sector expert has warned.
Speaking to Computerworld Australia, Ovum public sector research director, Kevin Noonan, said the plan, which would see whole-of-government procurement contracts grow from 30 to 60 per cent by 2015 in a bid to save $1.1 billion, would likely hit a number of snags when it came to ICT procurement reform.
“It could be a little overly ambitious given that the [NSW] Government is already looking at Gershon-style savings across government agencies. They already having to deal with some running cost deficiencies,” he said.
However, the real challenge in achieving cost savings would not be in procurement but in agreeing and standardising on efficient business processes, Noonan said.
“If you start to look at common contracts across whole-of-government then you get savings in administration – not just hardware and software – as it provides an opportunity for agencies to start standardising some of their business processes around common software sets,” he said.
“Then hitting those sorts of cost savings starts to become achievable.”
While Federal Government agencies had already proven they were capable of moving relatively quickly around adopting whole-of-government contracts, achieving a similar result at the state level would require strong leadership, Noonan said.
“Some of those whole-of-government approaches are already there in NSW, but this [new initiative] will require some leadership to move into new areas, rather than the tried old areas such as PCs and the like,” he said.
“They’ll need a bit of imagine and leadership, but I think that will be a stretch.”
On the up-side, the Opposition’s plan to additional have government agencies compelled to publish data on their purchasing performance, as well as simplify the tendering processes to allow greater access to government contracts by small business, were likely to be beneficial, Noonan said.
“Openness in government tendering is better than any stick government can wield to have government agencies toe a particular line,” he said. “Better information available to industry, as well as other government agencies, can only be a good thing.”