WA government signs NEC, Datacom, Atos for GovNext-ICT program

The Western Australian government has signed the three tech players as suppliers of IT infrastructure in a bid to reduce annual IT costs by up to AU$80 million.

The Western Australian government has signed NEC, Datacom, and Atos to provide IT infrastructure to service the entire state government over the next five years under the state's GovNext-ICT initiative.

WA Minister for State Development; Transport; Innovation Bill Marmion is expecting the newly formed agreements to save the state AU$60-80 million in IT infrastructure expenditure annually.

Under the new arrangement, all government agencies will purchase through one contract where the three vendors will continuously compete to sell their IT infrastructure services, with Marmion expecting this practice to reduce procurement costs and delays.

"We expect innovation to thrive under this arrangement through the stimulation of local industry, which in turn will ensure diversity of supply," the minister said.

"The GovNext-ICT contract enables agencies to have access to the latest and greatest technological offerings to assist with improving their online service delivery presence."

NEC's contract will include datacentre co-location services, private cloud services, public cloud integration, network and communication services, and identity management, in addition to general IT-related operations.

NEC will also implement a cloud brokerage service that it expects will enable government agencies to use Infrastructure-as-a-Services (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) under a utility model.

The state kicked off its GovNext-ICT program in late 2015, with Marmion highlighting the benefits of moving to a subscription-based model as a way of allowing the state to concentrate on delivering government services.

"It is estimated that if we continue along with the current 'own and operate' model, we will be forced to spend over AU$3 billion on ICT infrastructure in the next 10 years," Marmion said at the time.

The minister believes businesses and governments around the world are leveraging as-a-service resources from private industry, saying this has provided a great benefit to their operations.

"Given this, there is no reason for the WA government to buy, own, and operate its own infrastructure," he added.

The GovNext-ICT program replaced a model that was riddled with outdated approaches in which agencies owned and operated on-premises datacentres and server rooms, and ran their own isolated networks.

"This resulted in an ICT environment that is complex, duplicated, siloed, and expensive," the government previously said in a statement. "Furthermore, agencies are limited to the infrastructure they can afford to purchase and maintain. The complexity of this environment has made it difficult for government to take advantage of the as-a-service paradigm shift taking place with the ICT industry."

According to Marmion, the new IT procurement regime would also enable a cost-effective roll-out of Digital WA, a strategy that is aiming to have 70 percent of transactions with government online by 2020.

"Digital WA will transform the way services are delivered by the public sector, improving service delivery to all West Australians," he said.

Under Digital WA, the state government expects to simplify its technology platforms, systems, and standards; connect agencies and the community through digital services and system integration; and inform decision-makers, frontline staff, and the public with data and analysis on government initiatives.

Both the GovNext-ICT and Digital WA initiatives fall under the care of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO).

Giles Nunis was officially appointed as the first GCIO for WA in October 2015, with the Office of the GCIO only established three months prior under the Department of Finance umbrella.

At the time, WA Premier Colin Barnett said Nunis had an important role to play in helping to stabilise the government's IT costs, develop a whole-of-government IT strategy, and build the capacity of WA's growing IT sector.

"The government spends AU$1 billion to AU$2 billion on IT and this needs to be strongly managed to ensure we deliver the best value to West Australians," the premier said. "Nunis has the right combination of professional skills and practical experience, with a fundamental understanding of the private and public sectors and how to negotiate and deliver large IT projects."

In September, the West Australian Education and Health Standing Committee said it was hopeful that the establishment of the GCIO would put an end to the poor management of IT procurement and project management previously plaguing the state, noting that IT contracts in the state have the potential to "spiral out of control" if history is anything to go by.

IT services that fall outside the scope of works that NEC, Datacom, and Atos are contracted to deliver, such as application support and project management services, will continue to be delivered under the existing common use arrangements the government has in place with local suppliers, Marmion added.