Policies released for Commonwealth to purchase tech from SMBs

Next phase of Canberra's government IT procurement reform.

Policies released for Commonwealth to purchase tech from SMBs Next phase of Canberra's government IT procurement reform.

The federal government has released three new sourcing policies to guide Commonwealth procurement, spruiking that they will enable more small to medium-sized businesses to participate in technology spending.

Three new sourcing policies -- the Consider First Policy, the Panels Policy, and the Fair Criteria Policy -- will supplement the Capped Term and Value Policy as part of the Digital Sourcing Framework, Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said in a statement.

Keenan said the policies, which come into effect on July 1, 2019, will improve flexibility and increase innovation. He added that they would require agencies to make more considered investment decisions, simplify panel procurement, and increase fairness in digital sourcing.

The Digital Sourcing Consider First Policy is explained by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) as helping agencies make more considered investment decisions, and is backed by five principles: Be user-centred and prioritise usability; allow room for innovation; engage early and consult widely; consider the whole-of-life cost; and align with whole-of-government requirements.

Similarly, the Digital Sourcing Panels Policy aims to encourage competition, modernise panels to make them easier and clearer to use, improve access to emerging products and services, and reduce costs and duplication. 

Meanwhile, the DTA has touted the Digital Sourcing Fair Criteria Policy will increase fairness in digital sourcing by allowing more companies to sell to government, regardless of their size or previous experience with government.

Before procuring, a fair criteria checklist must be completed for each procurement of digital products or services that have a whole-of-life cost in excess of AU$80,000.

The policy should be applied prior to scoping proposed solutions and drafting requirements by Commonwealth entities, the DTA said. It will not apply when establishing a procurement panel arrangement or if companies are buying from a mandatory category of a digital whole-of-government certified panel, however.

The DTA is currently attempting to spread the AU$6.5 billion spent annually on IT by the Australian government across to smaller players by refreshing the way the government procures IT-related services.

On Thursday, the agency also announced the creation of the Digital Sourcing Network, which is aimed at providing a space for those making digital sourcing decisions to discuss cross-government procurement problems.

The first four working groups being launched next month will cover: Market research and engagement, articulating value for money, identifying and managing risk, and working with digital sourcing specialists as strategic partners.

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