NSW govt seeks proposals for ServiceFirst outsourcing

The NSW government is seeking proposals from over 50 applicants for the delivery of back-office services for its ServiceFirst shared services division, which it is moving to outsource.

NSW minister for finance and services, Dominic Perrottet, announced today that the state government had opened up the floodgates for proposals from more than 50 applicants that had offered their services for the outsourcing of ServiceFirst's back-office support.

ServiceFirst, the state's shared services division, provides back-office support for various government agencies, including end-to-end transactional services, human resources, IT, analysis, financial reporting, and compliance.

It employs approximately 340 people, and delivers services to almost 8,200 customers from over 40 NSW Government agencies.

In March, the state government started its search for a private partner to provide support for the division, inviting shared services providers to register their interest.

Perrottet revealed today that over 50 parties had expressed their interest in the outsourcing tender during the registration of interest phase, and that after assessment of the responses the government was now inviting suitable applicants to submit their plans through the five week proposal phase.

"We want to make sure that we get this process right," said Perrottet in a statement. "That is why we are giving providers five weeks to refine their plans and lodge a detailed application.

"Over the coming months, we will be fully evaluating the merits of proposals received, with a final outcome expected in late 2014."

The move to outsource its shared services delivery comes as the government works to cut back on its expenses. Former minister for finance and services, Andrew Constance, said in March that inviting the private sector in to do the job would deliver more value for money for taxpayers and the state.

Constance's comments are mirrored by Perrottet, who said today that the department was open to a range of models as long as they provided better services for less cost.

"There is now doubt that the services we currently receive through ServiceFirst are improving, however we are open to different delivery models if it leads to better services, reduced costs, and increased productivity," he said.

"Any decision will be made on the basis that an alternate model improves services and reduces operating costs to agencies."

According to Perrottet, the new sourcing arrangement is in line with the governmen'’s broader ICT strategy, which is aimed at seeking "better value for NSW taxpayers".

"Our strategy recognises the importance of engaging industry and working collaboratively with the private sector to achieve better outcomes," said Perrottet.

"Recent reforms, made as part of our GovDC and ICT procurement initiatives, have meant that it is easier for businesses of all sizes to tender for and provide services to whole-of-government and individual agencies."

The move to outsource government back-office services seems to be a nation-wide trend, with the Victorian government announcing in early May it had committed AU$6 million to outsource CenITex, the state's IT shared services provider.

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