Foreign Affairs and Trade on the hunt for collaboration-as-a-service platform

The Australian-hosted 'collaboration' platform will be used to work on national security, global economic developments, and international aid policy.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) wants to be a more "collaborative" government entity, and is seeking a cloud-based platform to allow it to work with others on areas it said require broad input, such as national security, global economic developments, and international aid policy.

In a request for tender (RFT) published on Thursday, DFAT said it is looking to leverage technology solutions to transform its processes, increase productivity and innovation, and harness the strength of its local and global communities.

Ideally, the solution will allow collaboration with other organisations who have adopted alternative platforms, the department said.

The provision of a collaboration platform, which will be awarded for an initial term of one year with two options to extend for further terms of 12 months each, is to be externally hosted and provisioned as-a-service.

The platform must conform to the Australian government security requirements as defined by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) government Information Security Manual.

It must also be fully-hosted at one or more Australian-based datacentres hosted by a supplier on the ASD Certified Cloud Services List, with the data to be completely retrievable by, and remain under the ownership of, DFAT.

The off-the-shelf or development and services-based platform requiring minimal customisation is expected to include a public-facing access page; user access controls; content management and basic site administration; possess search, assistance, and archiving capabilities; and allow the public to "share and communicate" with DFAT, Australian government, and external user groups.

The RFT follows an assessment of whole-of-government innovation initiatives and department-wide initiatives and strategies, with DFAT noting the collaboration probe identified a need to procure an "ecosystem that supports a modern digital workplace and encourages users to share information and knowledge".

With its new platform, DFAT wants to create a more "open, collaborative, and innovative" way of working, which includes cross-government partnering. It is expected the platform will become a central point of collaboration on joint initiatives to create value, solve shared problems, and achieve common objectives and be built on flexible and scalable technology.

It is intended that the platform will be delivered in stages, following an initial pilot to test the solution's appropriateness, and will continue to be enhanced as DFAT's "collaboration needs" evolve.

The RFT highlights the intention of DFAT to offer the platform to other related community groups -- in particular other government agencies and NGO's -- as an enterprise collaboration solution.

While not a requirement for this RFT, the ability to plug unified communications tools such as telephony and video conferencing into the platform would be of benefit to the department. Similarly, the ability for the platform to integrate with other collaboration tools such as instant messaging, enterprise social networking, and wikis, as well as with DFAT's electronic document and records management system, may be included in subsequent enhancement phases, DFAT said.

The department also said it is open to capabilities above and beyond what is listed.

Earlier this week, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) published its own RFT for the provision of automated processing at Australian ports.

The tender followed one published in December by DIBP that requested an Automated Border Control solution that would eliminate the need for physical tickets and have the ability to process travellers using contactless technology, removing the need for some to present their passport. The automated solution will replace airport smartgates.

DIBP was given a total of AU$95.4 million in funding under the federal government's 2017-18 Budget, with AU$59.9 million over four years to be spent on enhancing biometric storage and processing capabilities.

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