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Australia releases Digital Sourcing Framework and Digital Sourcing Contract Template

Last week, Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) announced its next steps for the country’s new procurement framework.

The Digital Sourcing Framework was released after a period of public consultation, to guide policy and decision making. Previously called the ICT Procurement Framework, the new name reflects the fact that the term “digital” is broad and includes information and communications technology (ICT).

According to the press release, the Digital Sourcing Framework is at the centre of a series of reforms to make ICT procurement a simpler and faster process for everyone involved. It is a set of principles, policies and guidance that on how to buy digital products and services. The first phase of the Digital Sourcing Framework went live in June 2018.

The core principles of the framework are: (1) encourage competition, (2) be innovative and iterate often, (3) be structured in a way that enables small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to compete fairly to provide components of large ICT projects, (4) be outcomes focused, (5) use open standards and cloud first, (6) minimise cybersecurity risks, and (7) avoid duplication by not building platforms that other agencies have already built.

The draft framework was developed by an exemplar team made up of representatives from seven different government departments. During their research they spoke with companies who sell to government as well as those in government who manage procurement to understand the barriers and difficulties with current policies and processes. The process emphasised the co-design approach which aims to make sure the framework reflects the needs of both buyers and sellers.

During the public consultation, DTA received hundreds of comments from more than 12 government departments and 20 private sector businesses. The feedback showed that there is broad support across government and industry for the principles of the framework.

On better managing sellers, government buyers gave feedback on making improvements to notification timeframes, improving processes to advise unsuccessful vendors, developing milestone payments for vendors working on long contracts and improving clarity on the number of contracts going to SMEs.

At the same time, the Digital Sourcing Framework includes 4 policies to help buyers and sellers of government digital products and services. DTA received feedback on the policies under the framework, such as on the Capped Term and Value Policy which will be reviewed in the future, the draft principles for the Digital Sourcing Panels Policy which is now available for public consultation, the draft Fair Criteria Policy which will soon be available for public consultation, and a future draft Consider First policy.

As part of our ICT procurement reforms, the DTA is also simplifying contract templates to make it easier for government to source digital products and services. On 13 June, the agency announced the release of the Digital Sourcing Contract Template.

According to the press release, this is the first in a suite of model contracts to make it easier for government departments to buy digital products and services. The new contract replaces SourceIT Plus and is simpler and more flexible than the previous template.

By using the new template, those who are buying ICT and digital products for government don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. Contracts with government for simple and semi-complex procurements will be more consistent for sellers.

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