100 vendors make Aussie whole-of-government software panel

The panel refresh is meant to simplify how the Australian government procures tech-related products and services.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has announced the vendors for its latest tech-related panel, listing suppliers that will be certified to provide commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software under the new arrangement.

The new category under the Software Licensing and Services Panel, COTS Software, was established in August last year, with the DTA publishing a request for tender seeking "one or more" providers.

The result was a total of 100 suppliers, which includes the usual suspects -- Data#3, Dell, Dimension Data, IBM, NEC -- but also dozens of smaller players, many based in Australia.

"This new category provides a platform for government to buy a broad offering of COTS software and associated services," the DTA wrote. "The panel is built to be flexible, so as technology evolves new software and services can be added through future refreshes of the panel."

Software and services offered to government under this category are expected to include the likes of financial and accounting; productivity, business intelligence, and performance improvement; digital workplace, big data, analytics, data quality, artificial intelligence, virtual assistants and process automation; development tools; project management; database management; cybersecurity; and data protection, disaster recovery, and business continuity.

The Software Licensing and Services Panel was launched in March 2018, with Microsoft Licensing Solution Providers as the first category. It was handed solely to Data#3.

The DTA earlier this month opened applications to join another panel, the Hardware Marketplace panel, for two new categories -- End User and Enterprise Computing.

Once the panels launch later in the year, government agencies can use the new End User and Enterprise Computing categories to buy laptops, desktops, servers, and monitors, the DTA explained.

The End User Computing category replaces the ICT Hardware and Associated Services Panel and is the first category of the new Hardware Marketplace panel that will be mandatory for all non-corporate Commonwealth entities to use.

The Hardware Marketplace, when it launched in September 2018, replaced several expired IT procurement panels.

The Mobility category will be the next panel to undergo a facelift, with the DTA expecting to open discussion through AusTender next month. The Mobility category will cover tablets, mobile phones, and mobile carriage.

It follows the DTA in January publishing a discussion paper on its ideas to refresh the whole-of-government telecommunications panel, considering the inclusion of further services such as dark fibre, unified communications, and software-defined WAN (SDWAN).

The new panel arrangements are the result of the DTA attempting to spread the AU$6.5 billion spent annually on IT by the Australian government across to smaller players by refreshing the way government procures IT-related services.

Starting with the archaic panel process, the DTA previously published the Digital Sourcing Framework and proposed eight principles to underpin all digital and IT government panels.

The framework, developed by a team comprised of representatives from seven different government departments, came after a DTA consultation that commenced in April to place a stronger focus towards opening procurement up to smaller firms.

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