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DTA admits SMEs still 'shut out' from govt contracts

DTA admits SMEs still 'shut out' from govt contracts

Also find it difficult to break into the government market.

Credit: ID 55577476 © Victor Diola Jr | Dreamstime.com

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has admitted that small sellers in its current Digital Marketplace feel "shut out" from opportunities with government agencies.

In a blog post on the DTA’s website, the agency claimed that there is still plenty of room to improve its updated digital marketplace, which is expected to be available in 2024.

This is despite courting over 3,600 sellers joining the marketplace since 2018, with over 80 per cent being small- to medium-sized enterprises (SME) and 2 per cent being indigenous businesses (IB).

For example, the DTA claimed that it heard that it was common for SMEs and IBs to feel “shut out” of opportunities in the marketplace, as well as finding it difficult to break into the government market.

Additionally, it also claimed that opportunities would “routinely” go to a single or select small group of sellers.

“While direct sourcing is permitted in some scenarios under the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, we wanted to understand if there are other things driving this behaviour and if there’s anything we could do to encourage more competitive practices,” said DTA director Anthony Conway.

On the seller side of the equation, suppliers claimed they wanted more fair and open access to opportunities with less use of limited procurements, essentially holding the belief that only those with pre-existing relationships with governments are the only way to win business.

As for the procurements that were available, sellers wished procurements were better designed, with more information on the background to requirements, the problem to be solved and the measurable outcomes to be delivered.

Additionally, sellers also want buyers to engage them and communicate with them in more meaningful ways, preferably before the procurement need is defined; feedback at every stage in the process; consideration of the realities of running small businesses like sticking to deadlines, shorter evaluation timeframes and paying on time and an improved way for sellers to advertise and promote themselves.

Meanwhile, on the other side, the DTA claimed buyer feedback pointed towards the diversity in the procurement experience and capability impacting how often the platform was used. Additionally, large lists of sellers pushed buyers away from approaching new sellers and information from seller profilers needed “to be richer and more consistently complete”.

“Any improvements we make will not solve all of the problems Buyers and Sellers have raised,” Conway added. “We will still need to work across government to uplift procurement capabilities. But our hope is that we can make changes to the platform that could guide better behaviours and lead to better procurement outcomes for both our buyers and sellers.”

The blog post claimed that the feedback from both parties will shape the design of the new marketplace and contribute towards enhancements for the BuyICT platform.

The blog concluded with a mention of more opportunities for feedback during the procurement process to improve transparency and help sellers improve how they do business with the government and for buyers to be better customers.

That information will be explored in another research via the DTA blog, the agency added.

The blog post on the marketplace's improvement comes months after the DTA claimed that it “needs to take steps to improve competition” within technology marketplaces back in February.


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Tags DTAdigital transformation agency

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