Australian government preps IT hardware panel

The Australian government is going to market this month for its IT hardware panel to provide desktops, laptops, tablets, and servers to Australian government agencies.

The Australian Department of Finance will this month go to market for vendors to join a whole-of-government IT panel, which will for the first time allow agencies to sign up to an IT head agreement to avoid unnecessary paperwork when signing up for multiple panels.

The panel will cover desktops, laptops, virtual desktop devices, monitors, servers, server racks, and installation services, and is set to replace the Desktop Hardware and Associated Services Panel, which is due to expire in 2015.

In a blog post on Monday, Department Assistant Secretary Yvette Sims called for input from industry on the draft statement of requirements (PDF), which outlines the minimum expectations from the hardware to be supplied to the government. For example, a standard desktop computer should have an Intel Core i5 processor or better, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and at least 120GB in hard drive space.

The desktops should also come equipped with Windows 7, Windows 8, or an equivalent operating system, the agency has stated, but has said that the operating system of choice will be a decision to be made by the agency requesting the desktops.

For tablets, the government has said that it should have at least a 7-inch screen, with 16GB of internal storage at a minimum. The agency has also requested that it would be "desirable" for the tablets to have at least one USB port and removable batteries — of which Apple's iPad has neither.

In response to industry criticism over the need to sign and re-sign up to multiple panels, and the associated costs that involves, the government is also looking to adopt a standard Head Agreement and contract terms across a number of IT panels. Sims said that this would reduce the cost for companies to sign up to panels.

"Finance intends to adopt a standard Head Agreement and contract terms across multiple ICT panels, with a component (or module) that addresses terms and conditions relevant to the specific panel. This will simplify the procurement process and reduce legal costs for potential suppliers, who only need to sign up to the Head Agreement terms and conditions once," Sims said.

The department is accepting comments on the statement of requirements and the draft head agreement until November 14, 2014.

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