Wednesday, 01 August 2007 15:46

Government ICT procurement plans down in 2007

Recently published ICT procurement plans for the 2007-08 financial year by federal government agencies reveals an overall drop in the volume of planned ICT projects on last year, according to a specialist government researcher. What's more lethargy by agencies to publish plans early could cost taxpayers money.

Intermedium, which researches government ICT procurement, reviewed Australian Government plans posted on 1 July 2007, and identified 398 ICT projects in the procurement plans of 119 federal government agencies.  This is down from the 424 published in July 2006.

Intermedium director Judy Hurditch, described the planned ICT procurements for the coming year as disappointing.

Ms Hurditch says with the federal government ICT market growing so strongly, it is difficult to understand why the number of ICT items listed in agency procurement plans is down on last year. 

Under the Australia USA Free Trade Agreement, agencies were encouraged to publish procurement plans to enable the ICT industry to respond fully and appropriately to opportunities. Mrs Hurditch believes that not publishing procurement plans early could lead to agencies paying more for their ICT.

“If an intended procurement is not published as early as possible in a procurement plan, it has the potential to reduce the competitive nature of the field and consequentially may impact the value for money result that all agencies look for in a procurement”, she added.

Compensating for this, Intermedium notes that the quality of agency procurement plans has improved, with agencies providing clearer descriptions and more structure in their plans.

In the 2007-08 plans, the largest category of planned ICT procurements is IT Services, accounting for 35% of the ICT items listed.  Hardware is next with 26% of planned ICT procurements.

According to Intermedium, the agency that tops the list with the most ICT entries in their 2007-08 Procurement Plans is the Department of Health and Ageing (DHA).  In total, DHA listed 25 ICT items, including internet gateway services, new printers and the provision of financial reporting tools.
The Department of Defence and the Defence Materiel Organisation together list 121 projects in their procurements plans for 2007-08.  Of these, only 12 fall into the ICT category.  Planned procurements include IT Services - Standing Offer Panel for Contractors; project management & support services; PABX and unclassified and restricted videoconferencing services.
Centrelink lists 13 ICT items in its 2007-08 procurement plan including SAN cards and Unix backup software. Centrelink’s plan is an example of a user friendly procurement plan, with procurements listed by sub-category such as Property, Information and Technology Services and Human Resources.
Another large buying agency, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) listed only 3 ICT items in its 2007-08 procurement plan - telecommunications services, an online recruitment system and the development of training materials for the System for People program.  In 2005-06, DIAC’s total ICT contract value was over $213 million.

 “Despite the slightly slower start, we expect to see over 500 planned ICT procurements listed this year, in keeping with the volume we saw last year," said Mrs Hurditch.

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