In a move designed to make it easier for small and medium enterprises to bid on and win government contracts, the Australian Government is overhauling its ICT procurement practices and processes, including capping ICT contracts at a maximum of $100 million or three years’ duration, to enable SMEs to bid for smaller components of larger projects.
Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, has announced initial steps in the sweeping reforms developed after intense consultation with industry that identified key areas for improvement, contained in the ‘ICT Procurement Taskforce Report’.
“Government is targeting an increase of 10 per cent of its annual $6.5 billion IT spend to smaller operators,” Taylor said, adding, “We are actively encouraging small innovators to sell us their ideas.”
The taskforce found both government agencies and industry to be deeply dissatisfied with the status quo for ICT procurement, identifying three major issues:
1. Lack of centralised policies, coordination, reporting, oversight and accountability.
2. Limited capability and a strong risk adverse culture in the public service.
3. Outdated procurement practices out of step with best practices, innovative technology choices and today’s agile, consumer technology models.
The report contains 10 key recommendations designed to create an entirely new, simplified and comprehensive a new whole-of-government ICT procurement framework for the digital age that is strategic, efficient and streamlined.
Recommendations include setting annual targets, increased transparency and annual reviews of the framework and ICT policies to ensure they continue to reflect contemporary best practice in a rapidly changing technology environment. To this end, work will continue over the next 12 months to both improve coordination and reduce duplication, including the addition of an “ask the market” capability enabling even smaller businesses to pitch innovative solutions to the government.