DTA goes to market to refresh hardware and software panels

Agency in search for new suppliers for its end-user computing, enterprise computing, video collaboration system devices and services, and mobile phone and smart devices categories.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has approached the market in search of new suppliers to help refresh four categories of its hardware marketplace.

The four categories include end-user computing, enterprise computing, video collaboration system devices and services, and mobile phone and smart devices.

The request for tender (RFT) outlined that the subcategories within end-user computing includes desktop computers, notebooks, laptops monitors, thin clients, and zero end clients.

For enterprise computing, the subcategories compromise of servers and enterprise computing, server racks and enclosures, and server rack and enclosure accessories.

Meanwhile, flat-panel digital displays, electronic whiteboards, video collaboration infrastructure, video conference equipment, and audio-visual integrated systems and soft codec devices are the subcategories contained in video collaboration system devices and services.

As for the mobile phones and smart devices categories, it also includes satellite phones and tablet computers as subcategories.

The DTA said submissions for each of the categories are being accepted by suppliers who are not already listed on the hardware marketplace.

At the same time, existing panellists that are already admitted into the end-user computing and enterprise computing categories will not have to reapply, but if they wish to also be listed in the other two categories, they will need to apply, the DTA said.

"The hardware marketplace is intended to be a constantly evolving panel," the DTA stated in the RFT.

"Over time, DTA may add, remove or change the categories (or sub-categories) and the requirements for those categories, allow new suppliers to participate in the hardware marketplace."

According to the request for tender, some of the key requirements for sellers looking to apply include the ability to provide at least 12-month vendor support to buyers, provide an option to buyers to procure additional years of vendor support for all end user devices and server configurations, and server racks and enclosures should include a 10-year parts and labour warranty.

Closing date for submissions is August 25.

In June, the DTA had published a request for information seeking feedback on draft plans to add audiovisual and smart devices to the hardware marketplace panel category list. Feedback for the RFI closed July 17.

The hardware marketplace, when it launched in September 2018, replaced several expired IT procurement panels.

The DTA called for vendors to join its hardware marketplace in October.

According to the DTA, annual Commonwealth capex spend on the items covered by the hardware marketplace, excluding software and services, is approximately AU$150-AU$200 million per annum.

The DTA added the mobile phones and smart devices category would complement the mobility and satellite services that will be available as part of its "soon to be" established telecommunications marketplace.

The whole-of-government telecommunications panel, which was scheduled to be launched by Q2 2020, will replace the existing services made available to government through the existing Mobile and Telecommunications Services panels.

On Wednesday, the DTA also announced plans to refresh its software licensing and services panel within its software marketplace.

In issuing a request for tender, the DTA has invited new sellers to join Category 2 of the commercial off the shelf (COTS) software panel.

Existing approved software marketplace sellers of Category 2 do not need to reapply, the DTA said.

"The purpose of this RFT is to identify one or more sellers to be appointed to the Software Marketplace for the provision of COTS Software and associated services to buyers on and as required and non-exclusive basis," the DTA stated.

According to the RFT, potential suppliers can provide offerings within various software "classes" such as governance, financial, and accounting; medical, scientific, and research; e-commerce and self-service; data management; and cyber and physical security.

On Monday, tender documents revealed the DTA handed Boston Consulting Group (BCG) a contract to provide support for its controversial COVID-19 contact tracing app. The contract was initially valued at AU$484,000 but following two amendments, it came to a total value of AU$809,380. The start date for the contract was initially scheduled for April 16, but this has now been adjusted to August 1. 

The DTA also contracted Delv in March to deliver the COVID-19 information app, valued at AU$2.38 million, following an amended value of AU$528,000.

On April 7, Delv was handed another AU$1.44 million by the Department of Health to develop the COVIDSafe app

In the past few months, the DTA has also awarded Maddocks a AU$12,000 contract to provide legal advice relating to the COVIDSafe app; Vision Australia a AU$14,800 contract to conduct an accessibility audit on the app; and a cybersecurity services contract to Ionize, valued at AU$44,000. 

Last month, it was revealed that the DTA knew that the app had severe flaws, despite sending it out for public use on 26 April 2020.

Documents published by the agency showed that Bluetooth encounter logging tests conducted on the day of the app going live for locked iPhones, an iPhone X to iPhone 6 specifically, had transmitted data at a "poor" rating -- 25% or below.

It followed software engineer Richard Nelson publishing research that showed locked iPhones were practically useless when it came to logging encounters through COVIDSafe.

He said a locked iPhone with an expired ID could not generate a new ID and that, without an ID, the device would record other devices around it, but it could not be recorded by others.

The DTA said in May that functional and performance testing was conducted for the Apple iOS and Google Android versions of the COVIDSafe App prior to release.

It said 179 functional tests were conducted, including Bluetooth encounters between various device types, in various states, including the phone being locked and unlocked, and the application being open and not open.

"All tests satisfied the baseline design requirements," the DTA said.

"Performance tests were also conducted against the technical requirements."

The DTA previously told ZDNet it continues to welcome feedback on COVIDSafe from the developer community, with previous feedback helping the DTA to improve the app.

"The DTA will continue to release updates to the COVIDSafe app to deliver a range of performance, security, and accessibility improvements as required," it said.

"The Australian community can have confidence the app is working securely and effectively, despite the lack of community transmission of COVID-19."

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