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Government launches ICT Procurement Taskforce to make contracts more accessible

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The Federal Government has launched an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Procurement Taskforce to gather feedback from small and medium enterprises (SME’s) and startups on how government ICT contracts can be made more accessible to small innovators.

The procurement space has traditionally been dominated by a handful of major global IT companies, but as a positive change, the federal government is aiming to change with the launch of an ICT Procurement Taskforce.

Angus Taylor, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation in Canberra, launching the taskforce said,

The Australian Government is committed to improving the lives of all Australians through more effective digital services—the opportunity is too great to ignore. For this reason, the Government has established the ICT Procurement Taskforce to work with industry on how to make it cheaper and easier to deliver world leading digital services.

Taylor released a discussion paper and called for private sector submissions into opening up the government’s $5.6 billion annual tech budget to innovative smaller companies that have previously been excluded from doing business with government departments. In the official statement, Taylor added,

We’ve got to let the outside in; government needs to be porous. We need to open up our ICT contracts to smaller players to solve Government problems. To capitalize on digital solutions in the private sector, we need to remove barriers for start-ups and SMEs who want to pitch their ideas and win Government ICT work.

To further engage with smaller providers, the Taskforce is seeking feedback on how to improve innovation in government through ICT procurement, looking at the experiences smaller providers have had with the procurement process.

According to the Taskforce, decisions around procurement in the future must consider whether the best quality service can be provided by owning the solution, partnering for the solution, or providing the solution via high quality interfaces.

The consultation process will focus on the three key areas of rules, looking at how current rules and policies affect government procurement of technologies; capability, examining the knowledge and skills of the public sector and how this may affect ICT procurement outcomes; and culture, looking at the cultural factors in government that may affect procurement, with questions focusing on industry or external experience of government culture and where this can be improved. The Taskforce is taking submissions online, and will also be running roundtables on the issue.

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