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Cloud Services Panel
I am pleased to announce that the Request for Tender (RFT) to establish the Whole of Government Cloud Services Panel has been released on AusTender. The RFT documentation can be downloaded from AusTender, FIN14BPAM2098.
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography, under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
The Panel aims to offer agencies scalable and flexible cloud services via industry offerings and do so in a way that reduces the burden on industry. I look forward to receiving a wide range of competitive responses.
In finalising the documents, we have taken into account the 418 separate comments we identified in the responses sent to us following our online consultation. This was a very helpful response and the greatest volume of comments we have received in such a consultation. I’d like to thank all the respondents, which ranged from individuals to large companies, for their contributions.
Generally, the proposed way ahead was well accepted. We have also agreed to and accepted a large number of the suggestions offered. However, some could not be accepted. This post discusses the main themes behind our decisions.
Panel vs. Multi-Use List
Several respondents requested a different approach to the procurement. This involved having a low hurdle and allowing vendors to supply whatever services they wanted. Often this request was accompanied by a view that the value for money judgement should be made by agencies at the contract point rather than in the establishment of the panel.
Such an approach would not create a panel. It would create a multi-use list, which is not actually a procurement. The differences are explained here. Our experience has shown that multi-use lists expand continuously but that almost all the companies on them receive relatively little work. While they can be used to establish a short list, this list must then be approached via a prequalified tender, not just a request for a quote. Thus, the process is longer and more involved and needs to be repeated each time an agency wants to conduct a procurement.
Conducting the value for money evaluation at the time of the tender, and thus creating a panel, allows the much simpler option of requesting quotes from the panellists chosen by the agency doing the procurement. We intend that the service catalogue, to be established as part of this work, will enable agencies to easily compare the services being offered and then chose from which to request quotes.
Inherent in the notion of establishing a panel, via a value for money evaluation, is the necessity to have something to compare. And, given resource limitations, which everyone has to some extent, we need to ensure that the evaluation can be done fairly and expeditiously. This has driven the choice to initially limit the number of services a vendor can offer and the categories which we will evaluate.
It also drove the use of costing scenarios. While we acknowledge that this comparison is difficult for some suppliers, it is necessary. Our plan is that, once a supplier is accepted for a particular category, the supplier will be able to add further services in that category without a tender evaluation. The opportunity to do this will be via additions to the services catalogue. Eventually, we envisage this being a largely self-service facility with only a final approval step by Finance.
Additional categories will also be able to be added at refresh points during the life of the panel. We have already assembled a list of suggested categories from the comments we have received. We will conduct additional consultation to determine which of those suggested are priorities for agencies and for vendors.
When we reach the refresh points, the current suppliers will not have to reapply to remain on the panel but will only have to apply for the new categories. The refresh points will be designed to facilitate entry by new entrants to the market.
Use of the NIST Definitions
Several respondents asked about our use of the NIST definitions to describe the services we are expecting to be offered. Some suggested that definitions that did not exclude managed services that are not strictly cloud based would be preferred. We didn’t accept these suggestions. This is a non-mandated, cloud services panel. It does not stop vendors offering managed services, nor agencies buying them. This is simply not the vehicle for that purpose.
The pricing offered by suppliers in their responses, if accepted, will be available to APS buyers from Finance. That is, they will not be publicly available. However, these prices will represent the maximum price for a service and will be able to be reduced via the quote process. Once the service catalogue is operational, vendors will also be able to reduce their prices unilaterally.
Your comments helped Finance to present a better request to the market. I really appreciate the assistance.
If you have questions about the RFT process please email the Tender Officer at email@example.com
Last updated: 06 January 2015