DFAT to overhaul ASG help desk deal

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is gearing up for a nine-month IT help desk transformation project to improve desktop support for its VIPs, diplomats and senior government officials.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is gearing up for a nine-month IT help desk transformation project to improve desktop support for its VIPs, diplomats and senior government officials.

The transformation project is set to coincide with the end of a five-year deal currently held by ASG subsidiary, Exceed Systems, worth $11 million over the period.

The agency today released a request for tender for 24 by seven management of its ICT desktop infrastructure across its Canberra headquarters, as well as 90 international outposts, which would cover the computing needs of over 8,000 users.

The new provider would be expected to deliver frontline support for high priority requests from within the ICT Services and Domestic Property Branch (ISB), which sits beneath DFAT's head ICT division, Diplomatic Security Information Management and Services Division (DID), currently headed up by acting first assistant secretary, Stuart Page.

DFAT is understood to have seconded a permanent figure to fill the role from a foreign mission who is expected to start in early April.

The successful bidder for the desktop services deal would also be operating within the whole-of-government high security communications network known as the Secure Australian Telecommunications and Information Network (SATIN), which provides permanent access to DFAT's Windows XP-based standard operating environment applications, such as the diplomatic secure messaging system, Official Diplomatic Information Network (ODIN), email, Citrix client, browsing, and file and print services.

DFAT uses an HP-based fat client desktop for its low security SATIN network, while WYSE thin clients are used for its high security SATIN network. DFAT's current hardware contracts are due to expire in the next 12 months, the tender documents state. Key responsibilities of the provider would include maintaining DFAT's so-called "loan pool" of ICT assets, desktop and peripherals management, software licence arrangements, and ensure that current licences do not exceed operational devices.

The agency has estimated the transition period from the current arrangements will take around three months to complete, which it intends to follow with the three-phase, nine-month service transformation program.

DFAT intends to host an industry briefing on 2 April at its Barton, ACT headquarters, and expects to make a decision on the successful bidder by June with a view to commence the contract by September.

It was one of a small handful of agencies to commence cutting back on contractors following the Sir Peter Gershon's review of the government's $6 billion in IT spending, with the agency's 2007/2008 financial year Senate Order listings revealing a large ICT contractor bill featuring several large ICT contract hire firms.

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