The federal government is preparing to overhaul the way it buys IT hardware in favour of a government-wide marketplace and online catalogue through which agencies can procure kit.
The Digital Transformation Agency has revealed it will establish a hardware marketplace next year that better democratises hardware buying for both suppliers and agencies, and leverages demand across government.
It is the latest in a series of new co-ordinated buying schemes set up by the agency to assist how government buys commodity IT products and services, stemming from recommendations by a procurement taskforce.
“This marketplace will leverage DTA’s experience in successfully building and managing catalogue-based, simplified and co-ordinated procurement solutions such as the digital marketplace and the ICT procurement portal,” the agency said in a discussion paper.
The DTA plans for the marketplace to replace the government's expiring ICT hardware panel - which has been in place for just over two years - its existing mobile panel, and the hardware categories of the commercial off-the-shelf-software and hardware panel.
Recent reviews of the hardware and mobile panel had found that both arrangements were "meeting the government’s overall objectives for co-ordinated procurement”, but recommended consolidating and refreshing the arrangements in 2018.
Together the panels have been responsible for more than $322 million worth of hardware procurements over their lifetime.
The new marketplace will see agencies buy products across 17 categories through “one simple, clear and fast online catalogue”.
Like the government-wide digital marketplace, the hardware marketplace will be constantly open, allowing new sellers to be assessed and join at the DTA’s discretion, and will be accessible by all federal, state and local governments.
Agencies will be able to approach a single seller directly if the procurement falls under the $80,000 threshold, in line with the Commonwealth procurement rules.
Purchases above this threshold will require buyers to “issue requests for quotation through an online platform to all sellers in the relevant category”, with sellers given the opportunity to respond with their “best and final offer”.
The seller’s offer will then be made available to all buyers in the marketplace for the life of the quote.
The DTA said it is also looking at publishing product and service prices for all sellers in a particular category on the marketplace to view. It said this was common practice in many large marketplaces such as the Singapore government’s GeBIZ platform.
The agency aims to recover costs associated with the marketplace by charging government buyers that participate in the scheme an administration fee, which will initially be set at 2 percent.
The DTA expects the full marketplace to launch when the COTS panel arrangement expires on 31 August 2018, but says some products and services will be available from June 2018.
It will approach the market in the new year for the marketplace's infrastructure categories, which will act as a taster before the full launch.