The Victorian Government will abandon its eServices panel for technology procurement and will instead establish a register, Technology Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips has announced.
The panel, established in 2003 to provide a shortlist of companies to bid for IT service contracts with the Victorian Government, will now be abandoned on the recommendations of a working group report into the eServices panel released today (PDF).
The group, made up of government CIOs and industry experts, was appointed to review the processes of IT procurement in November last year, following criticisms from industry and government agencies on how vendors were appointed to the panel.
During a planned refresh in 2011, the panel had been slimmed down from 300 vendors to 188, resulting in an outcry from vendors that had not been included in the refreshed panel. Following the complaints, this number was boosted back to 368.
In its review, the group found that the industry had complained of difficulties with the application form and a lack of effective industry consultation, feedback or clarity around the evaluation process. Government agencies complained that vendors were not properly reference checked and departments weren't consulted on the track records of existing suppliers.
Taking into account the issues that the government had experienced with the panel, the group considered whether the panel was the best way to meet the government's procurement needs, investigating a number of options for conducting eServices procurement in the future.
The alternatives that the panel looked at included keeping the original panel as it stands, imposing a cap on the amount of contracts earned through the panel or a limiting the members of the panel. The fourth option was a register that would be open to all companies that can demonstrate financial viability, insurance cover and capability, and were willing to agree to the government's terms and conditions. There would be no limit to the number of suppliers on the register, and companies could be added and removed at any time.
It was this model that the working group ultimately preferred.
"It would provide a simple, timely and efficient process through which government clients could access a wide range of ICT services suppliers and capabilities, with the confidence that they are financially sound, with information on past performance and supported by standard contractual arrangements," the report stated.
Rich-Phillips said that the Victorian Government had accepted the working party's recommendation, believing that it would lead to further competition and value for money. The government has committed to a transition from the panel to the register over the next few months.
"We have accepted the preferred option of the working party report and will consult with industry over the next few months on how this recommendation can best be implemented," Rich-Phillips said in a statement.
"Current suppliers will be automatically eligible to join the new eServices Register when it is implemented over the next year."