Feds to reassess telco head agreement

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Feds to reassess telco head agreement

Government CTO asks: 'do we even need it?'

The Department of Finance is asking its telecommunications suppliers for feedback on the 16 year-old Australian Government Telecommunications Agreement (AGTA).

At last count 52 Australian providers were signatories to AGTA, a commitment that qualifies them to sell telecommunications goods and services to federal agencies.

As it has with a number of its coordinated procurement arrangements to date, Finance is reviewing how well AGTA is suited to contemporary market conditions.

“Since 1997, there have been significant changes in telecommunications,” Australian Government CTO John Sheridan blogged on Friday. “To ensure that the agreement meets ongoing needs of the Australian Government, Finance is seeking feedback on the current AGTA arrangement, including how well the objectives are being met.”

“Is such an agreement the best way in which government agencies can structure their interactions with the telecommunications industry?” he asked. “Is there a need to have this type of arrangement?”

The stated objectives of AGTA aim to “to enable agencies to obtain telecommunications at whole of government prices” and “simplify contracting between industry and government”.

“AGTA achieves a reduction in telecommunications costs across the whole of the Australian Government by aggregating the government’s purchasing power – thus enabling cost and other efficiencies in telecommunications carriage, including voice, data, mobile, satellite, internet and facilities management services,” according to the finance website.

However since 2010 Finance has introduced a number of compulsory whole-of-government telecommunications panels that would appear to duplicate many of these outcomes.

In 2010 the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) set up the telecommunications commodities, carriage and associated services panel for mobile devices and calls. In 2011 it added panels for telecommunications lifecycle management and internet based network connection (IBNC) services.

The panels are designed to aggregate government demand in the interest of placing downward pressure on prices. The IBNC panel alone is forecast to save the government $60 million in its first five years.

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