Reduced IT services panel is not a bad thing

By Lilia Guan
Special Minister of State Gary Gray has announced a policy that will halve the number of IT services panels currently operating across the Australian Government.
The minister said the government’s policy to halve the number of IT services panels currently operating across agencies, will be implemented over a three year period – in which time 120 current panels will expire.
“The IT services panel arrangements allow for the procurement of a broad range of IT services regularly acquired by agencies,” Special Minister of State Gary Gray said.
“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.”
A maximum of three IT services panels per portfolio is expected to maintain a competitive market, providing the IT industry with sufficient tender opportunities, while retaining the required autonomy for portfolios.
The inclusion of a mandatory multi-agency access clause (piggybacking) in newly established IT services panels will simplify procurement for agencies and improve access to Australian Government agencies for suppliers.
Over time, suppliers will be able to access all agencies by successfully tendering for only one of the new IT services panels.
AGIMO will continue to provide support and advice to agencies on all ICT procurement matters.
Existing IT Services panels will continue until their expiration dates to ensure that Government continues to receive value for money from these arrangements.
Ovum Australia’s public sector IT research director, Kevin Noonan told Government News he wasn’t that critical of the plan, as the cuts aren’t as severe as originally forecasted by AGIMO.
Mr Noonan said the government’s plan to integrate the cuts within a three year period will help agencies get use to the changes and will make fairly, slowly and easier to “embed”.

“There are quite a few redundancies in the number of panels and it costs the industry a lot of money to respond to these tenders,” he said.
“Overall it’s a good move. Over time government agencies will also be able to take the lead in creating panels – the policy gives them the flexibility to do the job.”
Mr Noonan said the inclusion of a mandatory multi-agency access clause (piggybacking) would also help end current confusion.
“Piggybacking allows agencies that go out to tender to also allow other agencies – with similar requirements, use the same contractor,” he said.
“Agencies are doing it now and some are being caught for not informing the industry – which is mandatory in all contracts.
“Adding it as a clause in all IT service contracts will make it easier for piggybacking.”
Mr Noonan said had AGIMO made severer cuts, there would be much more risk when taking a project to tender.
“[They] really have to get it right in the tender planning otherwise the government would have a less than optimal for life of contract,” he said.
“The new policy will reap rewards and get rid of bureaucrat overheads, while maintaining flexibility needed for agencies against efficiencies when going out to market.”

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