The federal government has selected IBM Global Services Australia (IBM GSA) as preferred tenderer for a $350 million, five-year outsourcing contract covering IT operations of federal health agencies.
IBM GSA beat EDS and CSC to the deal, and will provide a wide range of IT infrastructure and services to the Department of Health and Aged Care, the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) and Medibank Private.
The government estimates the outsourcing contract will result in savings of $54 million.
The parties will now go into negotiations to finalise contract details.
"We plan to work towards a contract over the next 60 days," said John Bligh, vice president of operations, IBM GSA.
Once the contract has been signed, the parties will enter into a transition period estimated at between 18 and 22 weeks.
Meanwhile, Bligh said IBM GSA will be on hand to assist the agencies with final Y2K preparations and the date rollover.
The contract will cover mainframe operations, mid-range computers, 8000 desktops, local area network and telecomms, cross-platform services, help desk and bulk print and card production.
IBM GSA will partner with a number of companies to fulfil its obligations under the contract, including $70 million worth of work for Australian small and medium enterprises.
Among IBM's partners on the contract are Advantra, Telstra and Optus, which will provide telecomms and networking services; Hallis Personnel, providing call centre services; ASI Solutions for provision of PC equipment and desktop support, and Mail Management, which will provide bulk print and card services.
Bligh said IBM GSA plans to transfer all agencies to HIC's data centre at Tuggeranong in Canberra, and will install three or four new mainframes, and RAID disk storage, at the centre.
Centralised LAN management will be established at the Tuggeranong centre and IBM GSA will roll out Tivoli's enterprise management software across the agencies, Bligh said.
Meanwhile, most of the agencies' 8000 desktops are to be replaced over the life of the project, and a new health information network will be rolled out to connect health organisations across Australia.
IBM GSA has agreed to establish a Health Group Technology Forum to investigate opportunities for joint IT initiatives across a variety of government health groups.
And the University of Ballarat will work on development of an electronic commerce pilot, to internet-enable the prescriber- dispenser relationship, as part of the contractThe outsourcing deal is IBM's third major win in the federal government arena: The Department of Veterans' Affairs and the Department of Finance and Administration currently outsource IT operations to the service provider.
Bligh said IBM GSA would offer positions with the company to all health agencies' staff made redundant as a result of the deal .