Finance backs away from govt-wide records platform

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Finance backs away from govt-wide records platform

Will now create sourcing arrangement.

The Department of Finance has been forced to rethink its approach to a proposed government-wide digital records platform after failing to find a supplier capable of providing a single off-the-shelf solution.

The department went looking for industry feedback on the build of the would-be platform in August last year to shift the APS away from paper-based records information management.

It followed a feasibility study that found current management practices were unsustainable "due to the exponential growth of government data".

The cloud-based platform - funded to the tune of $9 million in the 2017-18 federal budget - would have eventually been used by all agencies to store information up to the protected level.

A series of market days were subsequently held with industry in September 2018 to understand the maturity of the market, which revealed strengths in key requirements like connectivity to external systems and microservices.

But the consultations identified noticeable gaps around “support for a machine learning auto-classification approach and support for ontology management”.

“Automation capabilities were mainly demonstrated through rules-based classification rather than through Artificial Intelligence technologies,” the department said.

As a result “no single potential supplier” was found to possess off-the-shelf offerings that could address all the elements of Finance’s proposed approach.

However Finance was able to determine that industry “would be best placed to provide digital records management systems", though these would need to be compatible with the Australian Government Records Interoperability Framework (AGRIF).

The AGRIF intends to "support a federated view of the information created, by, for, and send to, the Austrlaian government", the department said.

Finance is now proposing an “alternative approach to sourcing modernised records management products” be adopted.

“Finance intends to establish an appropriate whole-of-government arrangement for entities to procure technology that supports modernised records management capabilities,” a new sourcing strategy discussion paper [pdf] for digital records transformation states.

But it wants further feedback from industry and government “before it commits to an approach” so to “determine the most effective and efficient way to source modernised digital records solutions”.

The department puts the change of tack down “two main drivers”: traditional forms of sourcing arrangements struggling to keep up with rapid advances in technology and the risk of “a single or small number of technological solutions locking the market down”.

“Instead, Finance seeks an arrangement that supports innovative use of technology, encourages research and development by suppliers, and fosters both cooperation and competition in the marketplace,” the discussion paper states.

Finance is particularly interested in garnering feedback on the use of a co-design approach with vendors offering “innovative records management products” and agencies, as well as thoughts on a maturity model that will require the market to incorporate open standards in the form of the AGRIF.

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