The federal government's Digital Transformation Agency will seek to overcome the problem of providers getting locked out of supply panels when it launches its new hardware marketplace.
The marketplace, which aims to increase the number of small to medium enterprises that can sell to government, is set to go live in the middle of 2018.
The portal will be a central place for government to buy monitors, tablets, PCs, servers and technical services. Product categories will be added one by one, starting with enterprise storage.
Over time, it will replace the existing Hardware and Associated Services panel, Mobile Panel or the Department of Finance‘s commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware panel.
"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," it wrote in a blog post.
The DTA conceded that one drawback of supplier panels was that many 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."
The new hardware marketplace will operate under an "open often" model, which will allow new sellers to join regularly. "These sellers will be able to offer products in one, or many, categories and add new products as new categories are added."
The DTA has taken industry consultation in developing the online portal, meeting with more than 30 businesses and industry organisations and 17 government agencies and getting 19 responses following the release of a discussion paper.
Some of the feedback included: simpler documentation that is easier to read and less expensive to be reviewed by lawyers; the option to put insurance in place once a supplier has won the work, rather than when pitching for a contract; and the option to propose pricing based on providing a service as well as for outright purchases.