The Department of Finance has taken a chainsaw through its suite of whole-of-government telecommunications procurement panels and will replace them with a single telco head agreement likely to remain in place until 2023.
The agency issued a request for tenders to the market today, inviting bids to become a member of a new telecommunications service panel that will govern the procurement of managed WAN services, transport data link services and internet connection services across the government.
Central, non-corporate, federal government agencies will only be able to buy these services, with the exception of satellite-based services, from members of the mandatory panel.
Finance flagged its intention to overhaul the central buying of telco services back in March, to correspond with the expiry of three of its major buying schemes this year.
It heralded its intention to dump the underperforming telecommunications management and invoice reconciliation panels and to replace the internet-based network connection services (IBNCS) panel with a new, outcomes-based deal.
The existing IBNCS panel covers the procurement of network carriage, virtual connection management, IP carriage and major internet connections across 137 active contracts as of the beginning of this year.
The panel shake-up means existing network connection providers under the IBNCS scheme will have to rebid to keep their place in the lucrative Canberra market. They include AAPT, Fujitsu, Macquarie Telecom, Nextgen Networks, Optus, Pacnet, Soul Pattinson, Telstra, TransAct and Verizon.
The Department of Finance hopes to have the new TSP panel in place by October so agencies can start buying from it in November.
Finance’s procurement boss John Sheridan said he hoped the new panel would deliver agencies “a reduction in cost for internet-based network connection services and [simplify] the procurement process for vendors seeking to do business with the Australian government".
“I look forward to receiving a wide range of competitive responses,” he said.
Sheridan said some, but not all, of the suggestions received as part of the fortnight-long consultation period were incorporated into the final statement of requirements that went out to industry today.
The TSP program will not affect Finance’s whole-of-government mobile panel, which was last refreshed in 2014.