Tech ministers examine sovereign procurement

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The federal government is looking at using its procurement power to boost local industry and is examining the work of the New South Wales government’s new sovereign procurement taskforce as a potential model.

The second meeting of the new Karen Andrews-chaired Council of Digital Economy and Technology Ministers focused on how government procurement can be used to lift digital capability.

The meeting was attended virtually by tech-focused ministers from Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania, along with federal industry minister Karen Andrews and representatives from Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

The ministers discussed New South Wales government’s just-launched ICT and Digital Sovereign Procurement Taskforce as an “example of how jurisdictions are exploring ways to diversity ICT and digital partnerships and government spending”.

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The NSW government is a 23-person taskforce aiming to make it easier for local tech companies to access state government contracts. It is chaired by NSW customer service minister Victor Dominello and includes five senior government executives from customer service and Treasury, and 15 representatives from outside of government.

The taskforce was announced in July and will be looking to ensure the state has the necessary policies in place to ensure procurement spending has a positive impact on local industry development.

It will be defining sovereign procurement and what an SME is, build a current baseline on tech and digital sovereign procurement and set measurable targets for improving sovereign procurement outcomes.

The council also looked at the South Australia government’s new Go2Gov program, which gives startups and early-stage companies the chance to pitch solutions to public sector challenges, with the opportunity to become an ongoing provider to state government agencies.

“Ministers agreed to continue this discussion, including exploring the subject more once the NSW procurement taskforce had further progressed,” the meeting communique said.

The ministers also agreed that more can be done to support business digitisation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Digital Economy and Technology senior officials’ group will be continuing to work with industry to understand the areas of need for businesses across different sectors.

“They will also explore the most effective digital business support programs across all jurisdictions and agreed that best practices and resources for businesses will be shared to drive business digital transformation throughout Australia,” the meeting communique said.

“Jurisdictions will explore ways to promote awareness of digital initiatives and services available to businesses. The findings of this project highlight how response governments across Australia have been to business demand for COVID-19 support services, but more can be done.

“We can be more connected, we can share more information, and we can ensure businesses can more easily transition between Commonwealth, state and territory support services.”

The group will be meeting again in December to discuss a much broader range of issues and areas of focus, including mapping Australia’s artificial intelligence and autonomous systems capability, steps to improve the uptake of regulatory technology, opportunities to promote cybersecurity jobs pathways and how to strengthen industry-research collaboration.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

  1. Bill Caelli 4 years ago

    “Once upon a time” there was a draft “Buy Australian” Act in Federal Govt (See Hon John Button) which was intended to mirror the “Buy American ACT” in the USA. There is simply no doubt that Government/Public Sector purchasing was what created “Silicon Valley” in the immediate post-WWII period. An example is in the early formation of Intel Corp! The problem for Australia today is, as a totally dependent and subservient IT “colony” and with the growing national security significance of “cyberspace” as a warfighting domain, could a “Buy Australian” Act, at Local, State and Federal public sector levels, be enough to restart what once was? (Note: Trevor Pearcey and CSIRAC, 1949, SILLIAC at the University of Sydney 1952, CMAD in Melbourne, Hartley Computers in Brisbane, MicroBEE in Sydney, and on and on. ) There is a VERY BIG difference between USING a technology and its artifacts and actually creating, manufacturing and selling those basic artifacts; and doing the latter requires national leadership. Remember – we once even manufactured silicon chips here at AWA Microelectronics!!

  2. Janus 4 years ago

    …. and will the taskforce come up with the response to the procurement bureaucracy’s repeated statement that “we would love to buy Australian software but we can’t give any favourable treatment”. Then they allocate the evaluation to staff or consultants who favour foreign technology, and Australian software does not even get considered.
    This is not an exception – it is the norm.

  3. Karl Reedx 4 years ago

    This looks a bit like the od OFFSETTS program from the 70’s and 80’s.
    But, it isn’t the same methinks.

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