Internet Gateway slippages irk industry

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Internet Gateway slippages irk industry

Savings threatened by delays of up to ten months

Government Internet Gateway supplier hopeful Macquarie Telecom has fingered a lengthy, inconsistent tender process for delaying some parts of the program by up to ten months.

Macquarie Telecom’s national director of government affairs Derek Fittler told the Government & the Public Sector Summit in Canberra this week that the two-year-old Internet Gateway Reduction Program had yet to yield any result.

Federal Government plans, announced in October 2010, called for the consolidation of 124 internet gateways to eight by mid-2014 to improve operational efficiency, reliability and security of systems.

The eight target gateways were to be acquired, established and managed by eight lead agencies, of which three – the Australian Taxation Office, Department of Human Services and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations – decided to undertake the project internally.

The other five lead agencies preferred to outsource.

Fittler said suppliers had responded to request for quotations from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), but none of the three had followed their indicative decision schedules so far.

He told iTnews that DAFF’s decision was due by the first quarter of this year, PM&C’s by the second quarter and AFP’s by September.

“From the point of view of industry being able to learn and respond to that process, there has been no real opportunity to revise or think about strategy, because to date we have no outcome some ten months later,” he said.

Fittler highlighted inconsistencies in the DAFF, PM&C and AFP tenders that made it difficult for industry to understand what the Government hoped to achieve.

He said the service level agreements were slightly different and the prospective roles of the lead agencies also seemed inconsistent.

DAFF appeared to opt for a “lead agency light” approach, under which it would not be as active in the day-to-day operation of the internet gateway environment, while the AFP and PM&C seemed to prefer to take a more involved, “lead agency heavy” role.

Fittler noted that prospective tenderers also faced the risk of a change of scope, because the relationships between lead agencies and their clients were associated with memorandums of understanding, rather than formal agreements.

He criticised government procurement processes for taking an inordinate amount of time, which resulted in additional costs for the program.

The Government’s Internet Gateway Reduction Program was expected to achieve savings of $25.4 million during the period 2012-13 to 2015-16.  From 2016-17, ongoing savings of $8 million per year were also expected.

Fittler expected Customs & Border Protection's request for tender to be published this month with applications to close in October.

The final lead agency, the Department of Defence, last year inked a $52.9 million contract with Verizon Business to improve its internet gateway capabilities.

The eight lead agencies and their client numbers (in brackets) for the program are:

  • Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (13);
  • Australian Federal Police (5);
  • Australian Taxation Office (9);
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (12);
  • Department of Defence (11);
  • Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (12);
  • Department of Human Services (15); and
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (30).
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