Procurement

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Stakeholders acknowledged the unique challenges presented by AI, and highlighted procurement as an area of opportunity and future growth. Guidance on effective procurement practice in the context of emerging technology and AI would be crucial in sourcing the right solution and for consistent approaches across the sector.

What we heard

The key messages were:

  • The NSW Government procurement process can be slow, and frameworks and policies should make it easier for start-ups and innovators to do business with the NSW Government

Stakeholders expressed the view that, while appreciating there are sound reasons for government procurement processes being robust, fair and impartial, there may be opportunities to reform procurement policies to allow for more timely adoption of emerging technologies. Overall, feedback on procurement reflected a lack of confidence in the ability to innovate and test solutions through proofs of concept.

  • Assistance is required in identifying and engaging AI-based technology solution suppliers with the right experience and capabilities, that meet certain standards

Government stakeholders expressed uncertainty about who the right or best suppliers are when sourcing AI-based technology solutions and which suppliers will deliver best value for money. This can be the case when sourcing any product. However, given the emergence of AI as a relatively new technology, this was considered an important factor.

There is a need to be able to identify suppliers that offer technology solutions and services that encompass AI capabilities. This would assist agencies in choosing the right supplier with appropriate AI-based technology solutions and with a track record in delivery.

  • There is a need to address concerns regarding off-the-shelf solutions and whether they can deliver the desired outcomes

Agencies wanted to be able to establish how well ‘off the shelf’ solutions can deliver their desired outcomes, whether they are fit for purpose, and whether they can be tested in a safe environment. Given the nature of AI and the need for ongoing refinement and adaptation of solutions, agencies were also keen to use suppliers who could stay with the project for continued testing and development.

  • Guidance and tools to ensure ICT/Digital Sourcing is best practice and minimises risks should be developed

The ICT Services Scheme has several tools and resources available to all eligible buyers and sellers, however consolidated guidance could benefit Government buyers to provide best practice and minimise risk. More work could also be undertaken to help agencies address data management, privacy, sovereignty and intellectual property that relate to AI and other emerging technologies.

Actions

The NSW Government will make access to AI-based technology solutions easier and more efficient:

 
Commitment Responsibility Timeframe
Develop guidance on procurement of emerging technologies, including through the AI User Guide DCS Immediate and ongoing
Explore the development of a supplier panel for AI assurance DCS Q2 2021
Identify AI-enabled technologies on buy.nsw DCS Q3 2021
Merge emerging tech buying guidance into the ICT Procurement Guided Buying product DCS Q4 2021
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