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Agencies not clear about ICT procurement plans

Agencies not clear about ICT procurement plans

Suppliers will have a tough time meeting the federal government's ICT needs in the 2006-07 financial year, because not all agencies are forthcoming with procurement plans, according to market researcher Intermedium.

Procurement plans published by federal government agencies for the 2006-07 financial year contain a number of major ICT initiatives but the volume of plans posted by the big agencies is well below what is expected.

In a research note, Intermedium said more than 100 agencies have so far posted plans due by July 1, 2006.

The list includes 29 procurements by the Department of Health and Ageing, nine by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and 14 at the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Intermedium said the lead agency in coordinating publication of procurement plans, the Department of Finance and Administration, has once again set an example with a well-presented plan. DoFA lists a total of 70 projects, 15 of which are for ICT products and services.

The absence of any ICT procurements among the 43 projects listed by the Department of Defence is the biggest surprise in the 2006-07 plans. According to Intermedium, Defence reported ICT contracts worth $831 million in 2004-05, which accounted for 28 per cent of the federal government's total ICT contract value in that year.

Intermedium director Judy Hurditch said it is implausible that Defence does not plan any approaches to the open market for its ICT needs in the coming financial year.

"Defence reported 1581 contracts worth more than $80,000 for the 2004-05 year, so it is likely that there are procurements that could have been included Defence's procurement plans," Hurditch said.

It is a similar story at the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. DIMA's 2006-07 plan lists only four ICT projects - including a software panel, a national telecommunications network, and an electronic document system.

"Once again, it is highly unlikely that this is the sum total of DIMA's ICT needs, notwithstanding its People and Systems Project, which will be consuming most of its attention," Hurditch said.

Centrelink, one of Canberra's largest ICT buyers, lists six ICT projects - including satellite broadband, data mining, Interactive Voice Recognition, spatial analysis and a new staff access card in their procurement plans.

"We expect to see over 600 planned ICT procurements listed this year, in keeping with the volume we saw last year," Hurditch said. "Despite the fact that agencies are under no obligation to proceed with any listed procurement, they are still a sales planning resource that cannot be ignored."

She said a difficulty for suppliers with the expected progressive updating of plans is the volume of changes that can now be expected to come through each month. Intermedium noted more than 45 changes per month last year.

These included new opportunities, timing changes, deletions and the maturation of planned procurements into tender processes and award of contract. "Companies will need to continually monitor agency plans to ensure they don't miss any crucial updates," she said.

Intermedium is releasing a guide to government procurement and update service called scout IT on July 10, 2006.

Following a review of ICT procurement late last year, the federal government is currently developing model contracts for all agencies.

Details of the contracts are available at the government's ICT procurement Web site, www.gitc.finance.gov.au

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More about Australian Bureau of StatisticsCentrelinkDepartment of DefenceDepartment of Finance and AdministrationDepartment of HealthDepartment of Immigration and Multicultural AffairsDIMAOpen Market

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