Government agencies often buy ICT products through sellers on panels. These panels offer negotiated prices and terms and conditions, so government agencies are able to get the best value for money.
But they have their drawbacks. Panels are sometimes only opened to new providers every couple of years. We’ve heard from smaller businesses that they are locked out of panels, and the time and resources needed to respond to tenders sometimes stops them from applying.
As part of our work to reform ICT procurement and increase the number of small to medium enterprises who sell to government, we have been looking at ways to make panels simpler and easier for both buyers and sellers.
A new marketplace
A few months ago we began designing a new Hardware Marketplace.
It will be an online portal where government agencies can simply and easily find and purchase the products they need.
This will be a new way for agencies to buy these types of products so we’ve been working closely with both government and industry during this first phase of development.
We’ve met with over 30 businesses and industry organisations and 17 government agencies. We also released a discussion paper so we could collect feedback from those we didn’t get a chance to meet face-to-face. Through this we received another 19 responses.
Some of the things we heard from sellers is that they would like:
- documentation to be made simpler (and shorter!) so it is easier to read and will be less expensive to be reviewed by lawyers
- the option to put insurance in place once they have won the work, rather than when pitching for a contract
- the option to propose pricing based on providing a service as well as for outright purchases
All this feedback helped us improve the design of the Hardware Marketplace.
What will be available on the Hardware Marketplace?
The Hardware Marketplace will be a place for government to buy products like monitors, tablets, PCs, servers and technical services.
If you have previously been a buyer or seller using our existing Hardware and Associated Services panel, Mobile Panel or the Department of Finance‘s commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware panel (COTS), the Hardware Panel will replace these — gradually.
We’ll be releasing categories one-by-one, with the first — enterprise storage — going live in the middle of the year. Following more consultation, we’ll be adding more categories.
All existing users of the panels will be kept up to date as the changes are rolled out.
What is different?
The new Hardware Marketplace will be flexible so new categories can be added at any time.
It will also work on an ‘open often’ model, meaning new sellers can join regularly. These sellers will be able to offer products in one, or many, categories and add new products as new categories are added.
This flexibility means government can keep up with new technologies as they develop. It also means new start-ups with a great product to offer can sell it to government faster, instead of waiting a long time for a panel to open for new sellers.
The marketplace will be a one-stop-shop so government agencies only need to go to one place for computer hardware, instead of the three or more panels which previously covered these products.
And it means sellers can offer their services in one place, making it much easier to sell to government.
We want to hear more from industry and government about the proposed design of the Hardware Marketplace. We’ve just published a request for information through AusTender which includes a draft Head Agreement and Statement of Requirements.
We want to hear from all potential buyers and sellers, including those who may not apply for the initial categories on the Hardware Marketplace. This is important because once the request for tender is released, the Head Agreement will be the same for all future categories.
Feedback needs to be submitted by 5pm on Sunday 1 April.
We then expect to release the request for tender later in April.
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.