Too little, too late for Govt outsourcing

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Just as Aussie system integrator Volante Group is toasting a $9.4 million Federal government contract win, the Shadow Minister for IT Kate Lundy has hit out at the government's outsourcing regime again, saying the decision to finally award a contract to a local SME was “too little, too late.”

Volante on Monday announced it had won the contract to provide IT equipment, maintenance and on-site support to senators' and members' electorate offices in 243 locations across Australia. Volante won the deal following the break-up of CSC's cluster 3 federal government outsourcing deal.

The government's special minister of state, Senator Eric Abetz, labeled the contract a “win for the Australian IT industry and highlights the government's commitment to leveling the playing field so that SMEs can compete for government work.”

Lundy's office issued a statement on Monday titled: Australian company wins government contract: Am I dreaming? Pinch me?

Lundy has taken Abetz to task over his comments saying Abetz “must be joking” when he says the contract is a commitment to leveling the playing field for SMEs. “If this were truly the case, then we would not be seeing the results of the Howard government bias against the many capable Australian small businesses participating in outsourcing deals,” Lundy said.

Lundy said targets for small business participation in the Cluster 3 outsourcing contract had dropped from 24 percent to 11.8 percent; multinationals going unpunished by the government for breaking contractual commitments to assist SMEs; the removal of local industry development requirements in government contracts less than $20 million in value and an overall decline in SME participation in government IT outsourcing contracts reportedly from 30 percent to five percent during the Coalition's period in office.

Lundy congratulated Volante on being awarded the contract and said that after seven years of the Howard government, an Australian SME has been considered for a government contract, “something rarer than a digital TV subscriber.”

“This $9 million contract is well deserved for Volante, but it is a drop in the ocean [compared] to the billions of dollars of tax-payer funded contracts awarded to foreign-owned multinationals in the last seven years. Senator Abetz may want to congratulate himself and the Howard government for finally awarding an IT outsourcing contract to an Australia medium sized IT firm but by any criteria, the reality is, it is too little, too late,” Lundy said.

Earlier this month, Lundy labeled the government's industry development requirements a “sham,” following a Department of Communication's and IT report which found that none of prime contractors for the five big government IT outsourcing contracts have met their contractual obligations to the local IT industry.


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