Australia's NDIS is moving to the cloud

Nationwide scheme to move off the SAP CRM system hosted by the Department of Human Services.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has gone to tender for a cloud platform to help with its delivery of Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The NDIA currently uses an IT platform delivered and supported by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to support its core operations, including a DHS-hosted SAP CRM solution that is used as the system of record for all participant information, including their personal details and budget information.

In a request for tender (RFT), NDIA said its existing solution is also used by registered providers to make claims for services or products provided to participants which are subsequently reimbursed by the NDIA.

See also: Government agrees that Australia's NDIS needs a chatbot

"As the NDIA has matured, we have increasingly found the need to provide additional business capability in the areas of case management, event management, and campaign management," the agency wrote in the RFT.

"In addition, the NDIA has determined it needs to take responsibility for the engagement layer with the NDIA's stakeholders to ensure that accessibility is at the forefront of all of the NDIA's interactions. The expectation is that the NDIA's need for additional 'non-core' business capabilities will increase over time."

According to the NDIA, the current SAP CRM platform has limited support for these "non-core" business capabilities and the decision has been taken to procure a cloud platform specifically for this purpose.

The expectation, the NDIA said, is that integration between the DHS SAP platform and the new cloud platform will be required in the future to allow for information sharing between the two solutions.

Initially, the cloud platform will be used to develop portals for campaign and event management, and case management.

The NDIA is only seeking a subscription to the cloud platform and is not seeking configuration or integration services to meet the NDIA's current or future business requirements.

The agency wants the subscription for an initial minimum term of one year, and up to a maximum initial term of three years, plus extension options to bring the maximum contract term to five years.

It is envisaged, however, that initially the successful vendor will work with the NDIA to develop a future roadmap that includes a pipeline of potential NDIA applications for deployment on the platform.

In the RFT, the NDIA explained its plan to invite the preferred tenderer/s to participate in a "cloud platform verification activity", which will be up to two months in duration.

Through this process, the NDIA said it will work with the preferred tenderer/s to verify the ability of the proposed solution to meet its needs.

The NDIA expects that the platform verification activity will focus on verifying the capability of the proposed cloud platform to deliver web applications, portals, and integrate the proposed Cloud Platform's Case Management capability with the Department of Human Services (DHS)-hosted SAP CRM solution.

"The NDIA will issue specific terms and conditions for this verification activity when issuing its invitation to participate to the preferred tenderer/s," the agency wrote.

The successful tenderer/s must be the original software provider, but the NDIA said it can make exceptions if representatives can be present throughout the process.

The NDIA said that as the data being hosted on the cloud platform will include personal information, it requires data to stay within the country and not be transferred or accessed outside of Australia.

The successful provider is required to have federal government clearance, via the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Certified Cloud Services List (CCSL).

The CCSL boasts 13 providers that can all store government data at the unclassified DLM level: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Dell Virtustream, Dimension Data, Education Services Australia, Google, IBM, Macquarie Government, Microsoft, Rackspace, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Sliced Tech, and Vault Systems.

However, only six of these vendors are also certified at a protected level.

Local vendors Sliced Tech and Vault Systems were the first to receive protected status, shortly followed by Macquarie Government, part of the Macquarie Telecom Group.

NTT-owned Dimension Data was then accredited to provide protected-level cloud services to Australian government entities despite being an international company, and one that has data centres outside of the country.

Microsoft was the fifth vendor to appear on the CCSL in a protected capacity, receiving accreditation in April for its "government-configured" clouds to be used for Australian government data classified up to that level. But unlike the previous certifications of its kind, Microsoft's certifications were provisional and came with what the ASD called "consumer guides".

AWS in June signed a new whole-of-government deal with the Commonwealth of Australia, allowing all federal, state, and territory agencies and departments, as well as public universities and government-controlled corporations, to access AWS Cloud services.

The federal government has signed similar whole-of-government deals with IBMSAP, and Microsoft, but none have focused on new ways of running IT within government.

The tender closes 13 December 2019 and the resulting contract is pencilled to begin 27 March 2019.

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