The state governments desperately need to invest in more user-friendly tender sites so that looking for information on government tenders doesn't have to be a game of blind man's bluff.
In my opinion, the only Australian government tender site that consistently does what it's supposed to with minimum effort on the part of the user is the federal one, Austender.
The NSW tender site on the other hand doesn't seem to have recorded a large amount of the signed contracts in its archives. Take for example the contract IBM signed with Sydney Water for its customer relationship management system. My search turned up zip. Or the contract NSW Health signed for the implementation of Cerner software. I couldn't find it.
At least the NSW site works and sends regular updates, which is more than I can say for the current state of the Queensland tender site, which doesn't seem to be working at all. Every time that I go to www.tenders.qld.gov.au I'm told that Firefox can't make a connection to the server. Great. This morning when I needed to look at the tender site I managed to get in via the chief procurement office. Everybody loves workarounds. Add that to the fact that my registration disappeared without a trace so I had to re-register this morning and set up email notifications again. If you think about Queensland having to resort to using NSW's tender site after an SQL attack last year, it doesn't have a good history.
The Western Australian tender site has an annoying set up which has recently signed contracts split under agency headings. But if you want to click on more than one agency's contracts in multiple browser tabs it opens only one agency over and over and over again.
The Tasmanian tender site seems to work relatively well for me, but my colleague had so much trouble signing up to it that he gave up. There was a time too, where for no apparent reason I could discern the site wouldn't work on my computer (whereas it worked on everyone else's in the office).
Victoria has a new site that seems alright apart; however, it doesn't seem to be able to mail tender notifications and that the awarded contracts are still sitting in the old tender site. South Australia's site has a tendency to time out when you're trying to download documents. The ACT and NT sites appear to work fine although they, like the other tender sites, could definitely be more user-friendly. I pity the suppliers who have to deal with these sites as a matter of everyday business.
But it isn't the constant refreshing and dicking around which annoys me the most. The worst thing about tender sites is the extremely lengthy period of time between signing a contract and putting it up on the site. Why do months have to go by before the public is notified? And even after leaving such a ridiculous amount of time, the contract lists are often full of errors. I rang ASIC recently to find out if it was true that it was spending over $200 million on IT equipment. Rather sheepishly the spokesperson told me that there had been a typo and the amount was more around the $200,000 mark.
Please, please clean up the tender mess.