Govt introduces tablets to mobile panel overhaul

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Govt introduces tablets to mobile panel overhaul

Device management solutions also likely new addition.

Tablet devices are set to become the newest addition to the Federal Government’s whole-of-government mobile panel.

More than 15 months after announcing it would review the Telecommunications Commodities, Carriage and Associated Services Panel for mobile phone handsets and carriage services procurement, the Department of Finance has released a draft set of requirements which look set to underscore a fresh approach to market.

Mobile-enabled tablets are likely to be added to the list of devices required to be procured through the panel by agencies. Previously tablets were bought through the whole-of -government desktop hardware arrangements.

The new scope of requirements also reveals Finance would prefer to add to the panel vendors who offer carriage services as a minimum, meaning telcos who bundle tablet provision with a 3G or 4G plan could become the main candidates for inclusion.

The current members of the mobile panel are Telstra, Optus, Teledesign and TransACT.

The panel has been out of action since Australian Government CTO John Sheridan announced the review in July 2012, citing the arrangement's failure to “offer satisfactory value for money when compared to other methods of supply”.

Finance paused the mandatory requirement for central agencies to buy through the arrangement for 12 months while it re-assessed its composition.

“I think the ability to learn from what we’re doing is an important part of what Commonwealth procurement is about, and we need to concentrate on picking up what are the lessons and changes in our processes,” Sheridan said on his blog in June.

His main complaint was that some unnecessary components of the panel head agreement, such as accessories and repair warranties, were getting in the way of economies of scale.

“What I discovered when we looked again at the data was that no-one was buying accessories. Essentially they would go and buy them down the street on their credit card, or maybe even their own money. It wasn’t worthwhile going through the panel in order to do that.

“[And] .. if your phone’re not going to wait six weeks for it to be fixed, that would be too much imposition generally speaking. People weren’t using that usefully, so we took that work out of the contractual arrangements and went back to just having data carriage,” he said.

In response, the draft released today proposes a division between mandatory services and optional services under the panel, with accessories and hardware services falling into the latter category.

Use of the panel will likely remain compulsory for mobile voice and data carriage as well as mobile handsets (smartphone and non-smartphone), mobile-enabled tablets and USB modem devices.

In keeping with the department’s push for public service mobility, it has also proposed to include enterprise mobility management solutions within the non-mandatory scope of the contract and will encourage bidders to outline their support for BYOD schemes.

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