30% of NSW government IT spend to be reserved for SMEs

Further initiatives to be implemented once the ICT/Digital Sovereign Procurement Taskforce hands down its findings.

The New South Wales government on Monday vowed to hand smaller players a slice of the IT procurement pie, following a review into the state's spend on digital services.

The ICT/Digital Sovereign Procurement Taskforce was in July stood up to help develop strategies and policies to make it easier for small and medium-sized IT service providers and suppliers to do business with the government.

It is charged with looking into how the state government can increase its spend with SMEs, including Indigenous suppliers, startups, and disability suppliers, as well as ensuring SMEs get a fair go when competing for IT contracts.

It is due to publicly report its findings "later in 2021", but the state government has announced a handful of measures it's keen to implement from its initial review. 

The government has proposed the use of "spend targets" from 1 April 2021 that will direct NSW government investment to SMEs. This includes the implementation of measures for IT procurement to "build a resilient and secure NSW ICT supply chain".  

The spend targets include a promise to give SMEs 30% of IT procurement addressable spend -- this excludes contingent labour. 25% of indirect IT procurement addressable spend in all procurement valued above AU$3 million must also be spent with SMEs. 

"NSW is the most digitally advanced jurisdiction in Australia, thanks in large part to the experience and expertise of our local ICT industry," Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said. 
 
"Demand for technology solutions is only going to increase and the tech workforce is only going to get bigger, and we want SMEs to remain at the forefront."

The federal government has its own SME tech spend initiative, the Digital Marketplace, which to-date has seen 69% of contracts awarded to smaller players since inception in August 2016.

The Digital Marketplace is touted as a simple and fast way to buy and sell with government. 

"It breaks down the barriers of entry for SMEs (a small to medium enterprise with less than 200 employees) and makes it easier to compete for the Australian government's annual ICT spend," the official line from the Digital Transformation Agency reads.

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