The federal government is trialling an electronic tendering solution in its first use of accredited digital certificates in an online environment.
The Commonwealth Electronic Tender System (CETS) will allow suppliers to have 24-hour access to tender information to prepare for bids.
IT Ministerial secretary Senator Ian Campbell said CETS will result in significant savings because the paperwork alone to prepare and submit a tender can be costly and time consuming.
He said potential suppliers could use CETS to browse and search the advertised government tenders, download documentation and submit bids to an electronic tender box in a secure Gatekeeper environment.
"This is great news for suppliers who could save up to a week in preparing and submitting tender responses," Senator Campbell said.
The trial will be managed by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) and five agencies will participate, including the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Department of Veterans' Affairs, Centrelink, the Australian Tax Office and the Department of Finance and Administration.
The CETS application was developed jointly by eSign, SecureNet Ltd and Dow Digital and will be trialled to December this year.
NOIE is planning to introduce the application to all government departments as a replacement system for the current tender process.
CETS was based on a tender system developed by the South Australian government but the original application used PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), a public domain derived program used to encrypt and de-crypt e-mail over the Internet.
However, PGP was not approved under the government's Gatekeeper accreditation and was replaced by TrustedNet SecureFile, which uses PKI.eSign formed an alliance with SecureNet concentrating on the technical integration and co-marketing of SecureNet's smart card PKI technology with eSign's Certification Authority (CA) services.
Australia's managing director Gregg Rowley said CETS is the first of a number of initiatives that will be delivered through the alliance.