Agencies turn backs on some procurement panels

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Agencies turn backs on some procurement panels

Little uptake of data centre, print services panels.

The Federal Government's technology procurement panels have attracted a mixed response from agencies, with one 16-month-old panel yet to earn more than $30,000.

The Government requires its technology suppliers to apply for and win a place on "whole-of-government" procurement panels. Agencies' use of such panels is typically mandatory.

But an iTnews analysis of recent AusTender figures has found vast differences in the uptake of various whole-of-government procurement panels.

The Australian Government Telecommunications Arrangements panel (AGTA), established in 1997, appears to be the most lucrative, turning over some $42.4 million since January 2010.

But managed print services and data centre facilities panels established in mid-2011 have yet to register their first deals on AusTender.

And the Telecommunications Invoice Reconciliation panel was used only once for a deal worth $30,000 since it was established in January 2011.

Ticket to the dance

In the past two years, many commodity items such as desktop hardware, telecommunications and data centre deals have been rationalised into standard supplier panel arrangements.

By providing limited lists of vetted and aggressively priced suppliers, the Government could theoretically improve agencies' access to the market and boost business for the industry.

But for suppliers, inclusion on a panel is really no more than "a ticket to the dance" with no guarantee of dance partners.

Data centre migration and facilities panels established almost a year ago are receiving only tentative interest so far.

The latter panel has registered no deals on AusTender as yet, but a spokesperson for the Department of Finance & Deregulation told iTnews that one lease had been signed and details would be made public in the near future.

Meanwhile, six deals worth a total of $4 million have been inked under the data centre migration panel, established in May 2011. That total includes a major, $3.4 million contract struck by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry earlier this year.

The limited use of data centre panels could foreshadow some interest in the forthcoming multi-use lists for cloud and cloud-like solutions under AGIMO’s forthcoming data centre as a service (DCaaS) offerings.

On the hardware front, agencies spent big on desktops. A desktop panel established in October 2010 facilitated some 136 deals worth almost $27 million in total.

The related and newer major office machine (MOM) panel fared well on straight purchases, turning over almost $5 million for 15 deals since June 2011.

But the managed print services element of the MOM panel -- included by the Government as an option for reducing capital requirements -- has yet to register a single sale over the same period.

Iain Heddle, ACT manager for MOM supplier Ricoh said agencies may not yet be comfortable with the managed print services concept, preferring instead to own and pay support for their equipment.

Government panels and their earnings

Caveat: These figures rely on agencies tagging their purchases correctly against specific identifiers for us to analyse activity from AusTender. In several cases, we found anomalies. If anything the figures understate but trends and major patterns seem consistent.

A spokesperson for Finance & Deregulation said it took opportunities "when they arise" to remind agencies of their obligations to report promptly and to link their arrangements to the relevant identifiers.

Panel: Telecommunications Commodities, Carriage and Associated Services
IDs: SON361177, FIN10/AGI002
Established: Jan 2011
Total deals: $6,519,159 since Jan 2011
Number: 26
Average deal $250,737.

Panel: Telecommunications (AGTA)
ID: SON88680 
Established: 1997
Total deals $42,492,157 since Jan 2010
Number: 33

Panel: Telecommunications Invoice Reconciliation Services
IDs: SON329574, FIN09/AGI020
Established: September 2010
Total deals: $30,000
Number: 1
Average: $30,000

Panel: Telecommunications Management
IDs: FIN10/AGI005-B, SON397048
Established: June 2011
Total deals:$858,989

Panel: Internet Based Network Connection Services
ID: FIN10/AGI019 (shown as “FIN10AGI019” in Austender)
Established: July 2011
Total deals: $8,148,783
Average: $479,340

Panel: Major Office Machines (equipment & support)
ID: FIN10/FMG018
Established: June 2011
Total deals: $4,962,963
Number: 15
Average: $330,864

Panel: Major Office Machines (Managed Print Services)
ID: FIN10/FMG018 (same as equipment & support)
Established: June 2011
Total deals: 0
Number: 0
Average: 0

Panel: Desktop Hardware
ID: FIN10/AGI001
Established: October 2010
Total deals: $26,820,177
Number: 136

Panel: Data Centre Migration Services
IDs: SON387946, FIN10/AGI011A, AGI010A
Established:May 2011
Total deals:$4m (note the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry accounts for $3,401,224)
Number: 6
Average: $670,000 (see note on DAFF above) 

Panel: Data Centre Facilities
IDs: SON383698, SON232872, FIN10/AGI016, FIN10/AGI010
Established: July 2011
Total deals: 0
Number: 0 (One yet to be announced, according to Finance)
Average: 0

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