​Australian National Audit Office looks to outsource IT services

The country's audit office has gone to tender asking for guidance on what IT services it should seek external partners for.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has published a request for information (RFI), seeking help to narrow down what IT services the government agency needs to outsource before heading to tender from July next year.

The ANAO has labelled the RFI a "mutual discovery process" which it said will allow the ANAO to gain information and insights on providers in the market and in return allow providers to gain information and insights about the ANAO's business and IT needs.

The ANAO is responsible for improving public sector performance, accountability, and transparency in the Australian government through conducting performance audits, financial statement audits, and assurance reviews.

Currently, the ANAO is undertaking a number of strategic programs to integrate audit practices and provide people common business tools that are supported centrally and support an increasingly mobile workforce, the RFI explains.

The ANAO expects the information gained from the RFI process to help it develop an understanding of possible solutions to meet its requirements; gauge an estimated cost; and shape its resulting tender requirements.

When it heads to tender next year, the ANAO will be looking for an external organisation to supply it with a central "managed service" that provides: IT service desk and desktop support, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), audit and cybersecurity controls, and Workplace-as-a-Service (WPaaS) and mobility services.

Under IT service desk and desktop support, the ANAO requires an on-premises IT service desk -- with experienced IT staff -- that offers 24/7 support, training, and trend analysis.

As the ANAO shifts from on-premises to the cloud, the ANAO is seeking IaaS and SaaS models for email, application hosting, databases, storage space, backup, data analytics support with scalable storage, VOIP systems, and video conferencing.

As the ANAO works with highly sensitive information that requires a high level of protection, it is asking as a priority for confidential client data to be managed in a highly secure manner by the successful supplier.

As it looks to an enabled mobile workforce, the ANAO said its first consideration of new technology investments is being mobile-ready.

"Many of ANAO's workforce are already mobile, often working out of client offices with their laptop, 4G card and VPN solution," the RFI says.

"The approach to market aims to promote remote access further. Staff would be able to work from anywhere but still enjoy all the benefits of being in the office, including collaborating with colleagues by video, voice, and using shared workspaces."

Forming part of the RFI process is the option for respondents to participate in a workshop with the ANAO that will address technical, operational, implementation, commercial, legal, pricing, and strategic related matters, the RFI explains.

As part of the workshop, suppliers will need to pitch their business capabilities to the ANAO and provide detailed explanation on what their organisation can do for the government agency, including how they "align with the ANAO" from a business, commercial, and cultural perspective.

In addition, the ANAO said it wants to understand from the RFI process issues that are relevant to the efficient, effective, and economic procurement of solutions within government.

The federal government announced last month it will be reviewing all significant IT contracts in search of greater transparency and oversight over its AU$6.2 billion annual technology spend.

It is expected the review will include all non-corporate commonwealth entities and all active projects over AU$10 million in value, or those that engage a large number of Australians.

"We need to make sure we're delivering what the public needs, we're avoiding duplication, and we have the right processes in place to minimise disruption to public services," Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said at the time.

"This is more than a review, it's ongoing oversight, and it will provide unprecedented visibility and centralised management of IT projects."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull previously warned against outsourcing government services, saying a government could find itself without sufficient internal talent as a result.

"I am not an unalloyed fan of outsourcing," Turnbull told reporters ahead of the 2016 federal election. "I think there is a risk that if you outsource too much of government services, you run the risk that you end up with very little talent or capability within government."

The RFI closes on March 14, 2017.