DTA opens door to Digital Marketplace 2.0

A new cohort of tech firms are being called up to join the federal government’s new and improved Digital Marketplace, which is poised to open in the second half of the year after a lengthy overhaul.

Applications for the Digital Marketplace Panel 2 arrangement opened on Friday afternoon, ending a redesign process that locked new sellers out of the existing marketplace for 12 months.

The new panel will replace the existing Digital Marketplace Panel, which has facilitated more than 27,000 contracts worth $15.9 billion since it was introduced in 2017 – almost double the $8.6 billion in contracts just 18 months ago.

Canberra Parliament

All 3609 existing suppliers will need to apply for the panel to continue offering services through the marketplace, which has been overhauled to take account of feedback during the lengthy consultation.

As many as 2000 comments and requests for amendments were received from sellers, buyers and industry associations during the course of the consultation, the Digital Transformation Agency revealed last week.

A major change to the panel agreement that underpins the Digital Marketplace is that startups and small to medium-sized enterprises will now be able to negotiate with agencies on who owns the intellectual property developed under contracts.

According to tender documents published on Friday, the final agreement includes standard and alternative clauses for IP rights, with the default position being “buyers will own IP in contract material”.

The documents also reveal changes since the release of the draft agreement in December that relate to the use of artificial intelligence, with buyers now able to impose conditions on any suppliers that uses AI for the provision of any services under a Digital Marketplace contract.

Additional requirements for suppliers, in the form of the Commonwealth Supplier Code of Conduct, have also been inserted. The code is currently in draft form but will be in place from April, according to the government.

In an open letter on Friday, DTA chief executive Chris Fechner thanked the suppliers on the marketplace for their patience while the agency was working to “get the new panel right”.

“We believe the result achieves a fair balance between the needs of different stakeholders – from contractors, indigenous businesses, and SMEs, to big vendors and government buyers,” he said.

As federal Parliament continues its probe of sovereign capability in the technology sector, Mr Fechner said it was the “DTA’s broader strategy to transform the way the government buys and uses digital products and services”.

“We want to make it easier, faster, and more cost-effective for government agencies to access the best digital solutions in the market…. [and] create a fair and competitive environment for sellers,” he said.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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