NSW govt relying on global tech companies to build local talent

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The New South Wales government’s head of procurement says the state will build capability and capacity by outsourcing technology work to multinationals, but is confident their social programs are developing and diversifying the local industry.

The state’s director of ICT and digital sourcing Mark Lenzner on Wednesday said he is relying on companies like Microsoft, SAP and ServiceNow to build and support the government’s digital infrastructure at a time when talent is in short supply.

“Everyone is struggling for digital talent, digital skills,” Mr Lenzner said on a panel at the government’s digital.nsw event.

“And whilst we would love many of those out there looking for work in that area to join the New South Wales government, we are also realistic that much of that capability and capacity will come from industry and we need to be prepared to partner with industry open our doors to doing business with industry, from whom much of that capability will come from.”

The NSW Government says it is trying to become more open to more technology suppliers

Mr Lenzner mentioned Microsoft, SAP and ServiceNow as the type of platforms typically adopted by the state government, and that it needed to focus on the ecosystems built around the global giants.

“It’s those organisations that we should be partnering with to attract the necessary capability to support our platforms. And I would also add that many of those organisations have fantastic social programs,” he said.

“So their ecosystems are not just focused on the traditional players — the global [systems integrators] — but more and more they’re doing their part in growing local businesses, whether they’re Aboriginal owned businesses or other social businesses.

“They’re doing their part in ensuring that digital capability in New South Wales and globally is as diverse as possible, and that’s the kind of diverse supplier ecosystem we also want.”

Mr Lenzner was brought into the state government from Westpac in 2018 to modernise procurement platforms and reform policies.

In the years since, a single procurement gateway has been created and the state government has allocated billions to a Digital Restart Fund focused on building consistent, reusable platforms across government.

A New South Wales procurement taskforce established last year also led to the creation of 30 per cent SME procurement target, potentially channelling hundreds of millions of dollars from the now $2.1 billion Digital Restart Fund to the local economy.

Mr Lenzner said the taskforce had focused on the retained benefit and capability of local procurement, and on sovereign capability to protect national interest.

The policy was tweaked this year after hitting problems, including global companies listing as SMEs on tendering marketplaces.

More changes in policy and culture will be needed to diversify government suppliers, Mr Lenzner said.

“Once you presume that we have that local capability and it’s here, I think we need policy frameworks in government and a cultural shift in government that encourages us to move away from our tried and proven incumbent providers and try a more diverse set of suppliers,” he said.

When given the chance, local suppliers can deliver “magic” to government technology projects, he said.

“There are great organisations in New South Wales ready to help us. We just need to have the environment that encourages them to want to partner with us,” Mr Lenzer said.

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