The Victorian Government has bowed to industry pressure over its eServices panel, announcing a "refresh" to be overseen by a joint working party with the Australian Information Industry Association.
Representatives of the working party were due to convene within days.
The refresh - which granted ICT companies a second chance at the panel - was expected to be completed by the end of October.
The state's technology minister Gordon Rich-Phillips said that the past fortnight's backlash had shown the need for a broader panel to meet the government’s ICT requirements.
Unsuccessful applicants had charged that that changes introduced 1 July were biased towards larger firms rather than the SMEs that had participated on an original eServices panel.
“Companies will have another opportunity to secure a place on the panel, which will result in greater choice and competition for departments as well as improved access for more small and medium enterprises to government business opportunities,” Rich-Phillips said.
AIIA Victorian chair Russell Yardley said common sense had prevailed
“Clearly the result of the tender that was announced on 24th and 27th of June highlighted that there had been an inadequate evaluation process conducted," he said.
Yardley said only three of the successful companies that contacted AIIA were happy with the categories they had been appointed to.
“When you actually look at the number of companies that were successful by category, there was neither the capacity, nor the range of people to get the right competition in the various areas or to get the work done through this new panel. Clearly there had to be a refresh.”
Knowledge Partners director Carl Lindemann said his firm would reapply and had accepted the offer of a "de-brief" and frank discussion with the Victorian Government.
Lindemann said today's announcement went "some way to addressing an absurd outcome of a flawed evaluation process."
"On the one hand it shows that the Panel's administration does exhibit a degree of flexibility to sustained industry pressure and on the other poor consultation with industry in constructing the eServices panel in the first place," he said.
Yardley said that having the Government agree to a refresh within three weeks was “a great achievement”.
Yardley said that the main concern was “not that the industry had been hard done by - it was the Government really needed to open up [the process]."
He said departments' needed to realise that transparency and openness with suppliers would lead to better outcomes.
“The key objective of the eServices panel was to lower the cost to Government and suppliers," Yardley said.
The Victorian eServices panel includes companies that are eligible to bid for contracts to provide ICT services to Victorian Government departments and agencies.
The panel, which commenced 1 July, replaced a four-year-old panel arrangement that had about 250 suppliers.
The Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance also announced today it would provide additional detail about the evaluation criteria to assist any new tenderers, and to those companies that were unsuccessful in the recent panel announcement.
Companies would be able to either maintain their existing bids or submit further bids.
The Department of Treasury and Finance would also implement “a more streamlined and transparent panel exemption process” and provide clear advice to government departments seeking exemptions to use companies not on the panel.