Frustrated by the Digital Transformation Agency’s lack of progress on its Digital Marketplace platform, the NSW Government’s decision to go it alone is telling.
And the small team brought in to help design and deliver the new Buy.NSW procurement platform is Hypereal, a company founded by former Digital Transformation Office CEO Paul Shetler, former DTA Head of Digital Marketplace Catherine Thompson, and former DTA senior digital adviser Jordan Hatch.
The Buy.NSW digital procurement platform will go live on Thursday with a cloud marketplace, a platform for buying and selling cloud software, cloud hosting and infrastructure and cloud support services.
In coming months it will offer more digital and technology services. Over time, more buying pathways would be added to deliver a single place for all NSW Government procurement.
“A small team from digital advisory specialists Hypereal have helped us understand and deliver these changes,” a spokesperson for Finance Minister Victor Dominello told InnovationAus.com. “Going forward, Buy.NSW will be managed and curated by NSW Procurement.”
The launch of Buy.NSW brings the NSW Government – and the Hypereal team – full circle.
The NSW Government backed the then DTO plans for a Digital Marketplace more than two years ago, in March 2016. As the then Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Mr Dominello was both an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of a nationally consistent purchasing platform.
When the Digital Marketplace was delivered as an early beta in September 2016 by the Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation Angus Taylor, Paul Shetler, Catherine Thompson and the rest of the delivery team, the NSW Government had announced its intention to collaborate with the national platform.
As it turned out, NSW has no formal involvement with the DTA Digital Marketplace.
In practice, the contractual constructs that were required by NSW Government agencies were different to that available on the marketplace.
These differences were never resolved and precluded the uptake of the platform by NSW agencies. And so the caravan moved on with the state government hiring the ex-DTA Hypereal team.
While Paul Shetler is now only informally involved with Hypereal as close friends with the team (he is now part of the Accelerate HQ team), Catherine Thompson and Jordan Hatch remain key drivers of the Buy.NSW roll-out.
Both Mr Hatch and Ms Thompson left the DTA in the first half of last year when the agency began de-emphasising delivery capability.
Ms Thompson was Head of Digital Marketplace from June 2016 to May 2017 after an earlier career in corporate procurement and then digital procurement transformation.
Mr Hatch is generally known as a digital wunderkind. At 17 he was an instrumental part of the team that built Gov.UK, the UK government’s single web entry-point. He was the youngest person ever to enter the public service in Britain.
He was named in Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the technology sector and was an adviser to EU digital tsar Neelie Kroes as a teenager, co-founding the high-profile Code Week initiative in Europe. As a Hypereal co-founder, Mr Hatch now lives in Sydney.
Meanwhile, NSW continues to drive its own digital transformation effort to remain the stand-out among Australian governments. Much of the Buy.NSW work is unseen, involving the reform of backend finance and reporting systems.
Victor Dominello insists there are billions of dollars in productivity improvements and budget savings for the state if it can better run its procurement engine – including a whole-of-government e-invoicing platform.
“We have consistently heard from government CIOs, government buyers and industry that we can improve the way we do procurement,” a spokesperson told InnovationAus.com.
“We’ve engaged widely to understand the user pain points and needs from both sides.”
“Buy.NSW will make it simpler for sellers to register with NSW Government and to maintain the currency of their information in an online process. Buyers will find it easy to search and filter qualified sellers for their needs.”