Making it easier for startups and SMEs to help government deliver digital services

A major barrier holding back innovation in the way government delivers services is procurement. Our goal is to deliver services that are as accessible and seamless as ordering an Uber or banking online, but to achieve this we need to make it easier for innovative businesses to partner with government.

Procurement barriers can be costly for businesses of all sizes, but particularly for startups and SMEs who may find it difficult to navigate the red tape and jargon associated with some procurement processes.

Instead of enabling innovation and promoting new ways of doing things, current barriers may actually stifle innovation and make it difficult for a new product or great service from being rolled out across government.

And it’s not easy for government either. To work with startups and SMEs, government agencies have to navigate through a raft of legislative and policy requirements as well as their internal procedures. This puts a significant strain on resources and constrains our ability to be agile.

What if digital suppliers had just one place to go to offer their services? And if government, in turn, would have just one place to find all the help it needed to build world-class digital services? What if contracts were simpler and faster to execute?

We think that would help agencies to build and deliver better services across government more quickly and for less money. Not only would government benefit from the fresh ideas and innovation that competition brings, it also means more opportunities to support the startup sector and to bring SMEs onto an even playing field.

That’s the aim of the Digital Marketplace, which was announced last week as part of the the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda. Based on a similar UK model, the Digital Marketplace will be a catalogue of digital and technology services available for government agencies to use.

We’ll be doing extensive research with suppliers and government to make it easy to both supply to the marketplace and buy from it. It will mean that government gets to access a broader range of suppliers, and greater competition will drive better outcomes.

As part of the programme:

  • the directory will break down large scale IT solutions into individual components which scales down the procurement and allows for greater scope of innovation
  • business suppliers of software and hardware will be able to join the directory easily
  • government buyers will be able to easily search for services, identify suitable suppliers and procure the best value for money option for the project

We’ll follow user-centred design and work through a four-stage Discovery/Alpha/Beta/Live process to design, build and deliver a way for suppliers of technology and digital services to be matched with buyers across government. Of course, like all our work here, we’ll start small and continue to deliver valuable iterations over time based on user feedback.

We’ll learn from procurement reform happening elsewhere in Australia and right across the world, and we’ll work closely with the local digital community as we deliver this important reform.

A prototype version of the Digital Marketplace will be available in 2016.

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