The Digital Transformation Agency has exposed the nuts and bolts of a new IT procurement framework that it hopes will tackle longstanding issues with government IT buying.
The new whole-of-government framework – an outcome of the ICT procurement taskforce – will pull together the policies, targets and strategies that agencies are mandated to meet.
It is structured on seven principles put forward by the taskforce, including the use of open standards and cloud, avoiding duplication of digital platforms, and minimising cybersecurity risks.
The draft framework was developed in consultation with seven agencies over a four-week period.
It contains new policies around “encourag[ing] competition and support[ing] SME participation” - dubbed the fair criteria policy - and ensuring “all [ICT] options are considered before procurement starts”.
This is in addition to the existing IT portfolio panels policy, which requires agencies to limit their panels to three or fewer suppliers, and the IT capped term and value policy that caps contracts at $100 million or three years duration.
The DTA is now calling for feedback to ensure it gets the framework right.
“It will provide the foundation to ensure we deliver a simple and clear approach to government ICT procurement – for both government buyers and industry sellers,” the agency said.
“It will make ICT procurement in government consistent, efficient and easier, and encourages a new procurement culture that supports innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Same same but different
User research conducted during development of the draft framework surfaced long-known problems with government IT buying.
The DTA found that while panels are generally well regarded, there are too many and agencies find them “rigid and lacking flexibility”.
“This can mean new players and emerging technologies are locked out because traditional panels are not set up to bring on new service categories,” the DTA said.
Agencies also find it difficult to use panels if they’re not the lead agency.
They have called for the creation of “an ICT contracting suite for medium value procurements”, specifically targeting small to medium enterprises, that could incorporate contractor poaching and piggybacking clauses.
This could look similar to the NSW government’s 'procure IT' framework.