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ICT panels to be slashed to half

The Federal Government will slash the number of its ICT panels as part of a plan to cut administrative overheads.

According to special minister of state, Gary Gray, half of more than 120 IT service panels currently operating across the government will be cut during the next three years.

The remaining panels will be limited via the establishment of a maximum three-panels-per-portfolio restriction, which, according to Gray, will still provide the IT industry with sufficient tender opportunities while retaining the required autonomy for portfolios.

"This policy will reduce the administrative overheads incurred by agencies in establishing their own panels and also for the IT industry in tendering for inclusion in the current large number of panels," Gray said about the cuts in a statement.

Gray added that the inclusion of a mandatory multi-agency access clause in newly established IT services panels is also expected to simplify procurement for agencies and improve access to Australian Government agencies for suppliers.

Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) first assistant secretary, John Sheridan, wrote in a blog post that the changes -- the product of consultation across industry and agencies -- would provide the flexibility agencies require as well as deliver operational efficiencies.

"Efficiencies are gained by reducing the large number of IT services panels that exist across Australian Government agencies and the burden this places on agencies and suppliers," the blog post reads.

"Competition is maintained by allowing a maximum of three IT services panels across each portfolio and thus providing IT suppliers with future panel tenders to which to respond."

Sheridan pointed out that while agencies currently used their own portfolio's panels to procure IT services, stripping these back to three panels would not result in a reduced pool of services from which to choose.

"Newly established IT services panels must include a whole-of-government multi-agency access or 'piggybacking' clause, ensuring that they will be available to all Australian Government agencies," the blog post reads.

"Over time, the first step an agency takes in securing IT Services will be to see what IT Services are available via its existing portfolio panel, followed by what is available via panels across the Australian Government.

"Only then will there be a need to investigate an approach to market via open tender. This is expected to significantly reduce time and dollars spent by agencies and suppliers alike."

The procurement changes follow the recent finding by AGIMO that open source software use is alive and well within the government sector.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @Tlohman


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