More about procurement and whole-of-government arrangements

12 July 2019

The DTA has been working to make it simpler, easier and faster for buyers and sellers of ICT and digital services to interact.

The DTA manages the whole-of-government deals on behalf of Australian Government agencies to simplify the sourcing of a range of ICT products and services that are in common use across government.

What is a whole-of-government arrangement?

Whole-of-government arrangements cover goods and services that are commonly used across government and are put in place to maximise market benefits and deliver efficiencies and savings.

In the technology space, some suppliers are providing goods and services that are commonly used across government. As a result, the government ends up with many contractual arrangements covering the same goods and services, but with different terms, conditions and pricing structures, resulting in extra costs, complexity and delays for both buyers and sellers.

The government seeks to reduce the amount of money and effort spent by entities procuring goods and services by aggregating the volumes purchased across the whole of the government to secure substantial savings and significantly better contractual terms from suppliers and gain efficiencies in the procurement process.

When the government selects a supplier to be part of a whole-of-government deal, both parties engage in a negotiation process that can be long and complex in order to secure the best possible outcomes for the whole of government. Historical government expenditure with that supplier, along with other commercial and legal reference points are used in this rigorous process in order to ensure the best outcome for the government and taxpayers.

The supplier will not be able to engage with the government unless it is under the new agreement. At the same time, whole-of-government deals do not guarantee suppliers any new business, since individual agencies are responsible for their technology decisions.

What is the purpose of these arrangements?

There are a number of reasons the government uses whole-of-government arrangements including to:

  • Reduce the price of supply to agencies, regardless of their size or ICT budget, by using the consolidated buying power of government to save money
  • Ensure consistent terms and conditions for agencies by creating a single legal contract
  • Simplify and streamline the procurement process for agencies so they can focus on delivering better services to the Australian people

Do agencies have to use whole-of-government agreements?

Whole-of-government deals do not promote a particular technology or seller. Agencies are responsible for their decisions on the right technology partners to deliver on their business outcomes.

Agencies must also ensure their decisions conform to the new digital sourcing policies, aimed at increasing competition, fairness and participation of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in government procurement.

However, if an agency selects to engage one of the providers listed above, they are mandated to do so under the relevant whole-of-government arrangement in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

What is government doing to ensure SMEs can compete for government contracts?

While whole-of-government agreements are used to consolidate engagement with suppliers that already do business with government agencies, SMEs require opportunities for increased visibility, participation and simple, fast and clear sourcing procurement process.

On the policy front, the digital sourcing policies in effect from 1 July 2019 increase fairness in digital sourcing by allowing more companies to sell to government, regardless of their size or previous experience with government. They also make using panels easier and require agencies to make considered investment decisions.

In terms of procurement vehicles, the DTA’s various marketplaces has made it easier for sellers, particularly SMEs, to gain access to government contracts. The marketplaces simplify how sellers can gain access to government contracts by actively growing the volume and value of opportunities available. It ensures government is open-for-business and encourages competition and innovation from industry.

Since the Digital Marketplace’s launch in August 2016, contracts worth more than $300 million have been awarded to SMEs through our Digital Marketplace. This is more than 70 per cent of the total spend through the Marketplace.

The government remains committed to continue to simply procurement and assist Australian SMEs to engage better with government.

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