Credit: Digital Transformation Agency of Australia

Credit: Digital Transformation Agency of Australia

Australia's DTA to introduce new Hardware Marketplace online portal for ICT procurement

Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is changing the way government buys information and communication technology (ICT) products and services.

Government agencies often buy ICT products through sellers on panels. These panels offer negotiated prices and terms and conditions, so government agencies are able to get the best value for money.

However, panels are sometimes only opened to new providers every couple of years. The Government also received feedback from smaller businesses that they are locked out of panels, and the time and resources needed to respond to tenders sometimes stops them from applying.

As such, the DTA is exploring a program of reforms includes simplifying, consolidating and modernising a number of panel arrangements, according to a press release issued today.

The new Hardware Marketplace will be an online portal where government agencies can simply and easily find and purchase the products they need.

The move aims to reform ICT procurement as well as increase the number of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) who sell to the Government.

As this will be a new way for agencies to buy these types of products, the DTA has been working closely with both government and industry during this first phase of development.

The design of the new Hardware Marketplace began a few months ago. The DTA has with over 30 businesses and industry organisations and 17 government agencies and released a discussion paper which collected 19 feedback and responses.

Some of the feedback from sellers include:

(1)     Documentation should be made simpler and more concise, so it is easier to read and will be less expensive to be reviewed by lawyers

(2)     The option to put insurance in place once they have won the work, rather than when pitching for a contract

(3)     The option to propose pricing based on providing a service as well as for outright purchases

The new Hardware Marketplace will be flexible so new categories can be added at any time. It will also work on an ‘open often’ model, meaning new sellers can join regularly. These sellers will be able to offer products in one, or many, categories and add new products as new categories are added.

This flexibility means government can keep up with new technologies as they develop. It also means new start-ups with a great product to offer can sell it to government faster, instead of waiting a long time for a panel to open for new sellers.

The marketplace will be a one-stop-shop so government agencies only need to go to one place for computer hardware, instead of the three or more panels which previously covered these products. It means that sellers can offer their services in one place, making it much easier to sell to government.

The Hardware Marketplace will gradually replace the existing Hardware and Associated Services panel, Mobile Panel or the Department of Finance‘s commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware panel (COTS).

Categories will be released one-by-one, with the first being enterprise storage to go live in the mid-2018.

All existing users of the panels will be kept up to date as the changes are rolled out.

To gather feedback from industry and government about the proposed design of the Hardware Marketplace, the DTA has published a request for information through AusTender which includes a draft Head Agreement and Statement of Requirements.

The request for information is open for feedback until Apr 1 and will be followed by the release of request for tender later in April.

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