The Digital Victoria Marketplace is set to go live next year, with trials of a platform complete and the government about to begin searching for a vendor to manage, maintain and enhance it.
Plans for the marketplace – which will be particularly used to encourage small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to bid for government IT work – were revealed earlier this year.
Minister for government services Danny Pearson said a request for tender “to source a vendor responsible for managing, maintaining and enhancing a new Digital Victoria Marketplace” would be released at midday on Tuesday.
Pearson said the state spent more than $130 million on eServices and IT infrastructure through state purchasing contracts.
He told iTnews that he hopes SMEs will be able to win a greater slice of that work by gaining visibility via the new marketplace.
However, there is no commitment or target from the government to source a certain percentage of its technology procurement from SMEs.
“The government is really keen on streamlining tech procurement because we recognise that increasingly as everything becomes digital, it’s really important that SMEs have the opportunity to participate in our procurement program,” he said.
The marketplace, once live, would offer “reduced barriers of entry to make it easier for SME businesses to participate” in technology procurement, Pearson said.
Pearson said that efforts to date meant the government had “a pretty clear idea of the scope, the specs and how [the marketplace] will work.”
“When you look at developing a solution like this, there’s a need to trial it, test it and make sure we get it right. That’s what we’ve done and we’re really confident that this marketplace is going to make a significant improvement and make it far easier for businesses to engage with the government,” Pearson said.
“What we’ve done is we’ve developed the product because we’re pretty clear in terms of the functionality that we’re seeking, and the vendor will ultimately run it.
“But this has been about engaging with departments or agencies on the government side, and engaging with businesses as well because we really want to understand what the vendors and suppliers are telling us.
“As a result of this extensive dialogue and engagement, we’ve developed a platform we think will certainly work effectively, and we’ll now be going out to market [Tuesday, for a vendor] to run it.”
Prospective vendors will be able to bid to manage and further develop the marketplace up until October 4.
The request for tender is expected to be published at midday on Tuesday.
The marketplace initiative comes under the auspices of Digital Victoria, the state’s less than two-year-old digital unit.
Pearson said Digital Victoria had “set a cracking pace across the Victorian public service (VPS)” so far, with several strategies and a remit to “play more of a coordinating and over-arching role across the VPS.”
The Minister said he had paid particularly close attention to enabling diversity of input into the creation of digital solutions and algorithms.
He would not be drawn on whether Digital Victoria’s coordination role would see it stand up whole-of-government technology platforms, though his comments indicated they may be in the works.
“I don’t have any announcements to make on that today but I’m very mindful and cognisant of ensuring that we continue to reform to continue to innovate, and we continue to work more broadly across government on those points,” he said.