Commonwealth opens $5.6 billion ICT spending for SMEs

Angus Taylor, assistant minister for digital cities, foreshadows closer engagement with SMEs to source the Commonwealth’s $5.6 billion annual spending program.

Federal assistant minister for digital cities, Angus Taylor, has weighed in behind small-to-medium enterprises under moves that increase access to the Commonwealth’s $5.6 billion ICT spending program.

This engagement involves submissions to an ICT Procurement Taskforce enquiry that will hand down findings in the New Year.

According to Taylor, the administration does not have the same “rivers of gold” that marked past procurement.

“Particularly with the Australian government, we had rivers of gold well beyond when other governments had them, so we got used to the idea that there was always money there to do something new. Well the truth is now, there’s not.”

He told a Canberra forum government spending represented a big number. “But the cost doesn’t end with that, because the other cost we load up is the cost to industry. We have about 70 ICT panels and that costs, we reckon, about $700million for you to manage.”

Moreover, procurement was not strategy-led. While tenders were tightly-scripted, these discouraged innovation. “The result is we get far less from a group of extraordinarily innovative creative entrepreneurial people.”

With digital services, Taylor said “Houston we’ve got a problem.” This is marked by citizens’ inability to navigate on-line services in an intuitive environment.

Planners needed to get the basis right, around the cloud, software robotics, internet of things, and advanced data analytics. “We’re not at that level. We’ve got to get these basics right first and that’s what we’re focused on.”

There were ongoing problems to solve. These incorporated governance, existing rules, as well as the technical delivery. Broader questions revolved around final ownership of ICT solutions, together with clearly-defined partnerships.

Industry-led business models needed to solve problems, said Taylor. This engagement would offer fresh perspectives, while delivering on the promise of agency-wide cost-savings.


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