The Victorian Government has once again opened up its tendering process for its major technology services purchasing panel, known as the eServices Panel, following industry complaints that a recent cull of suppliers on the panel had resulted in too sharp a cutback.
The panel is the mechanism through which Victorian Government departments and agencies procure a wide variety of IT services, principally in areas such as enterprise architecture design, the development and implementation of new systems, web hosting, IT benchmarking and so on. It specifically does not cover the purchase of IT hardware or software licences.
The existing eServices panel was signed in mid-2007 and included about 250 IT services suppliers on its roster. However, a new panel was inked this year, with significantly less companies on the Government’s list — 188. 600 applications were received for spots on the panel.
Following complaints from industry about the brevity of the list, Victorian technology minister Gordon Rich-Phillips yesterday noted it was apparent there was a need for “a broader panel”, and announced the panel tendering period had opened again, with the overarching initiative to be completed by 31 October this year.
“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,” said Rich-Phillips in a statement.
The state’s Department of Treasury and Finance will provide additional detail about the evaluation criteria to assist any new tenderers in the process, as well as those companies who were previously unsuccessful in gaining spots on the panel. Companies will be able to either maintain their existing bids or submit further bids.
Rich-Phillips’ statement added that the department would also implement “a more streamlined and transparent” panel exemption process, as well as providing “clear advice” to government departments which were seeking exemptions to use companies not included on the panel.
“An industry-government working party will be established to provide advice to the government on the future approach and operation of the eServices Panel,” the Minister’s statement said. Rich-Phillips also pledged to publish regular reports on the panel on the website of the Victorian Government purchasing board.
The move was immediately welcomed by the Australian Information Industry Association, which represents a number of vendors on the panel and regularly takes a lead in dealing with governments on purchasing initiatives.
“AIIA has worked closely with every sector of the ICT industry affected by the recent review of the eServices panel,” said AIIA national chair and Intel Australia chief Philip Cronin. “The Victorian Government demonstrated a strong commitment to listening to the concerns of industry and working towards outcomes that will better serve the State, and the results are clear in today’s announcement.”
“The changes recognise the importance that ICT plays not only in the development of robust government, but in the development of an innovative and resilient economy. This will be very good for industry development in the State, and particularly for SMEs. The Victorian Government is to be commended.”