The Federal Government will today release a whole-of-government request for tender for mobile phone hardware and services, continuing a string of purchasing initiatives aimed at driving efficiencies across Canberra's entire public sector.
"Later on today I anticipate releasing the first in a commodity panel, in this case for mobile phone handsets, hardware and carriers," John Sheridan, division manager of the Australian Government Information Management Office's Agency Services Division told an Australian Computer Society briefing this morning.
The Federal Government, through AGIMO and its parent the Department of Finance and Deregulation, has pursued a number of similar technology purchasing initiatives over the past few months.
For example, on Tuesday Finance issued a request for proposals from suppliers for whole of government internet services. On Monday it was datacentres, with Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner outlining a 15-year plan for Canberra's $850 million annual datacentre needs going forward, with bulk purchasing to kick off later this year.
On 2 February the government issued a long-awaited $300 million to $400 million request for tender for desktop and laptop computers. It has also secured a similar arrangement for purchasing software and services from Microsoft.
Sheridan — who is the AGIMO public service executive with the second-highest public profile behind chief information officer Ann Steward — said the deals were providing agencies, particularly the smaller ones, with efficiencies in procurement so that they could concentrate their work on delivering higher level, IT services, rather than on the basic mechanics of procurement.
For example, he said, the Microsoft contract had allowed the Government to move from a situation where it had 42 contracts with Redmond, covering 41 agencies, to one contract covering over 80 agencies.
The deal would save "in excess of $75 million over four years," he said. "I know that $75 million doesn't buy you a whole lot of things in whole of government terms, but it's still a very significant savings.
The stimulus to establish the contracts has come from the delivery of Sir Peter Gershon's extensive report into government use of technology in mid-2008, although the debate about whole of Government technology purchasing arrangements dates back before the current Labor government took power in November 2007.