DTA says it's rectified the Digital Marketplace failings of its predecessor

Clarifying findings from the Australian National Audit Office that its Digital Marketplace fell short of complying with Commonwealth procurement rules.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has declared the current version of its Digital Marketplace has rectified the failings of its predecessor, the Digital Transformation Office (DTO).

The DTO was in early 2015 stood up, charged with, as one example, digitising and managing various government services. It was in October 2016 renamed to the DTA. In his capacity as Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor at the time said the establishment of the DTA was an expansion of the DTO's role that was "absolutely needed".

The Finance and Public Administration References Committee on Friday asked the DTA to respond to findings made by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in a report handed down last August that found the DTA fell short of complying with Commonwealth procurement rules where its Digital Marketplace panel was concerned.

The ANAO said the DTA did not comply with all of the Commonwealth procurement rules (CPRs) but it did adopt a number of "sound practices" outlined in Finance guidance when establishing the digital marketplace panel.

"Its approach did not support the achievement of a value for money outcome or treat suppliers equitably," ANAO wrote.

DTA deputy CEO Peter Alexander said the audit was looking at the entire life of the marketplace.

"In the early establishment of the marketplace -- the marketplace was established without a panel. And then a panel was established, and the panel complies with the CPR -- the detail of the audit says that the current marketplace absolutely complies with the CPR," he said.

"It is a retrospective recommendation, saying you can't set up a marketplace that doesn't -- it was a failing of the predecessor organisation of the DTA, the DTO, which established that marketplace, copying it from the UK model and hadn't established an appropriate panel and was not doing value for money assessments of the providers going on to it."

Alexander said it was adding providers and then requiring the agencies to do the assessment of value for money.

He said the marketplace is now supported by panels that comply 100% with the CPRs, adding that it now has value for money assessments performed.

"The DTO, I guess was trying to drive at that time, a change in procurement based on the model from the UK, which was to open up procurement. One of the criticisms in procurement at the time, and still exists on some panels, is that panels are closed," Alexander continued.

"So a panel runs, vendors and SMEs particularly find it hard to get onto those panels. So the marketplace was established with an intent, which was basically free for all, you could apply to be on the panel and you're added to the marketplace.

"It was an absolute failing that that marketplace wasn't supported by an appropriate panel."

Alexander told the committee the transition from the DTO to the DTA saw an "uptick in the professionalism of approach to procurement".

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