The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has outlined potential plans to consolidate the number of ICT services panels across the Federal Government from 87 to four through a proposed whole-of-government ICT services panel.
In a discussion paper released by the lead Gershon agency late last week, AGIMO outlined plans to encourage competition among vendors part of the proposed panel, with small to medium value contracts the key targets.
“This would reduce establishment and administration costs for agencies,” the discussion paper reads. “Application effort for suppliers seeking panel membership would also be reduced.”
The paper also proposed large government agencies combine their existing panels into a single ICT services portfolio, with the aim to achieve financial benefits across small to large agencies from centrally managed panels. According to the paper, three agencies - likely Human Services, the Australian Tax Office and the Department of Defence - make up some 60 per cent of total ICT expenditure across government.
In a blog post, AGIMO first assistant secretary, John Sheridan, said the proposal came from a recommendation from the Gershon report to optimise the number of ICT panel arrangements across the government.
“There are some 87 ICT services panels across government today,” the blog post reads. “The average ICT services contract is worth $185,000. However, the median value is only $40,000. 72% are valued at less than the $80,000 that normally delimits the requirement for open tendering. Below $80,000, the typical requirement is for three written quotes.
“To be competitive for this business, suppliers probably need to be a member of more than one panel and be well known to those that commonly seek quotes. This can be quite a hurdle.”
The consolidated panel would be complemented by a small number of portfolio-based ICT services panels, with the portfolios responsible for these panels to be agreed upon following an analysis of ICT expenditure and current standing offer arrangements. These panels would also include ‘piggyback’ clauses to enable them to be used by any agency compliant with the Financial Management and Accountability Act and have applicability for larger contracts above $250,000.
The panel would be managed by AGIMO, while the performance and cost would be managed by an inter-agency working group. AGIMO would also implement guidelines for agencies and suppliers on new processes and technologies.
According to the discussion paper, the panel would require a system with the ability to provide panel management functionality and support the proposed standard procurement process. The Department of Finance has recommended the re-use of existing applications including GovDex and AusTender, where possible.
A review into the implementation of recommendations from the Gershon report was largely positive of the successes seen so far from consolidation.
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