Government reveals new IT services panel policy


news The Australian Government’s Special Minister of State Gary Gray has announced a policy that will halve the number of IT panels servicing Government agencies. The Portfolio Panels for IT Services Policy, endorsed by the Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board, will come into immediate effect, while the reduction in empanelled suppliers is to be phased over three years as more than 120 panels are scheduled to expire.

The introduction of the new policy is the result of discussions across industry and agencies on optimising IT service panels and improving operational efficiencies, including the 2010 WISP discussion paper. Gray said that the new IT services panel arrangements would enable the procurement of a wide range of IT services regularly sourced by agencies. “This policy will reduce the administrative overheads incurred by agencies in establishing their own panels and also for the IT industry in tendering for inclusion in the current large number of panels,” he said.

In order to maintain a robust competitive environment, three IT services panels across each portfolio would be considered the ideal balance between adequate tender opportunities for the IT industry and autonomy for portfolios. An agency would generally utilise the services of its own portfolio panels; however, a multi-agency access clause has been mandated to allow for piggybacking and improve whole-of-government access to suppliers. As the new system gets underway, it would enable suppliers to service multiple Government agencies by successfully tendering for only one of the new panels. The existing panels will continue to function until their expiration dates to optimise the value derived from them.

It is expected that over a period of time, Government agencies who want to secure IT services would first consider their own portfolio panels and then look across other agencies’ panels, before going out into the market with an open tender. This would save both agencies and suppliers a substantial amount of time and expense.

John Sheridan from the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) said on the AGIMO Blog that towards supporting the new policy, “AGIMO will provide, via the Finance website and govdex, support to assist portfolios with multi-agency access clauses, templates and processes related to the panel development and operation. In addition, Finance will develop a matrix of IT Services panels to help agencies locate the ideal panel for their needs.”

A new Multi-Use List is being developed to provide existing and potential suppliers a platform to promote their services and engage with the Government. Scheduled to start functioning during the next year, it would simplify the procurement process, especially for ICT services contracts valued below $80,000, which make up over 70% of the commissions.

Image credit: Phil Ragen, royalty free