Govt awards $550m in ICT contracts

The federal government has awarded almost $550 million in digital service contracts via its online sourcing platform in three years, according to the Digital Transformation Agency.

The DTA, which launched its Digital Marketplace in 2016 to streamline purchase of digital services by government, says the figure represents a milestone in its mission to transform government ICT procurement.

The $547 million worth of contracts includes more than $300 million awarded to small-to-medium (SME) enterprises, which represent 71 per cent of awarded contracts, DTA says.

The DTA has also revealed the Digital Marketplace has awarded contracts from 1800 buyers across 290 government agencies and lists more than 1430 businesses in its seller catalogue.

The latest statistics show that the top buyers for June 2019 were the Department of Human Services, followed by the National Disability Insurance Agency, with the top categories for opportunities since August 2016 being software engineering and development, agile delivery and governance, user research, support and operations and cyber security.

Questions hover over AWS deal

The DTA is continuing to expand its whole-of-government volume sourcing agreements, including its recent deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and agreements with SAP, Microsoft, Concur and IBM.

The agency says whole-of-government deals help ensure optimal pricing and conditions, and simplify ICT procurement.

Announcing the AWS deal on June 27, Minster for Government Services Andrew Robb said the AWS agreement would facilitate easier access to cloud services for all federal, state, and territory agencies and departments, as well as public universities and government-controlled corporations.

“The Digital Transformation Agency continues to expand whole of government volume sourcing agreements to ensure government agencies have ready access to the best pricing, terms and conditions,” he said.

“The new arrangement represents an opportunity to provide cost reductions through efficiencies of scale.”

Questions have been raised over the management of data held by the US cloud giant on behalf of the government, but AWS says the service has  been awarded protected certification by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), providing assurance it met security requirements.

“The government provides a robust risk-management framework to assess cyber security risks,” ACSC head Alistair MacGibbon said in a statement issued by AWS.

“The ACSC recommends customers review the certification documentation and make sound risk based decisions when choosing a cloud service.”

New digital sourcing policies

Meanwhile a suite of new digital sourcing polices are now in effect, including new limitations on the length and financial value of ICT contracts. The changes cap the value of a contract at $100 million, and limit the initial life of a contract to three years.

“One of the policy’s aims is to encourage competition. By shortening contract lengths it makes sure businesses of all sizes can bid for smaller parts of larger projects,” the DTA says.

“Shorter contracts also allow agencies to bring in new and innovative technology and services earlier.”

The Fair Criteria Policy, designed to enable more companies to sell to the government regardless or size or previous relationship, requires a Fair Criteria Checklist to be completed for each procurement of digital products or services valued over $80,000.

The measure will allow more companies to sell to government, regardless of their size or previous experience with government, DTA says.

This story has been updated with comments from AWS.

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