The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) today renewed a memorandum of understanding with ICT industry group the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) to “exchange information, experiences and expertise”.

The deal was last year criticised by the federal opposition for being too cozy a relationship between government and what is essentially a lobby group. 

At the time, then Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Husic slammed the MoU, suggesting it could be seen as a way of gagging the industry group from criticising the government’s tech policy, and the annual $10 billion government ICT spend should be enough of a motivation to communicate.  

Husic said the deal would also prioritise procurement from large global tech companies at the expense of smaller, local companies.

“When you look at the performance of the digital marketplace, it’s not the big tech players – who would normally be the members of the AIIA – that have the [difficulties],” Husic said in March last year.

“The procurement issues are with the smaller players, with the SMEs. They are the ones that have the biggest problems [in accessing procurement decisions] and they are the ones that the DTA should be focused on.”

Since the deal was signed in 2018 the government has signed large whole of government procurement deals with American giants Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, both AIIA members.

Labor has been contacted for its current position on the MoU.

MoU renewed

Today, the DTA and AIIA renewed the deal with few details of its existing impact. In a media statement the parties said the MoU will improve the delivery of services and the government’s broader digital transformation, and enables the information industry to “take an active role in delivering customer-focused improvements in government service delivery”.

The DTA, which leads the delivery of digital government services, says so far the MoU has helped facilitate collaboration between the two parties for initiatives such as “digital sourcing reform, the Digital Transformation Strategy and capability development”.

“Industry has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can assist government in improving services for people and businesses in Australia,” said DTA Chief Executive Officer Randall Brugeaud in the statement.

“Government must continue to work with industry to eliminate barriers and improve transparency so that all businesses, regardless of size, can contribute.”

The DTA did not respond to questions about specific examples.

AIIA Chief Executive Officer Ron Gauci said the renewal shows the commitment between government and industry to collaborate and share expertise.

“Collaboration between industry and government is imperative to drive innovation and improve government services. The AIIA and our members look forward to continuing to contribute to the digital transformation of government services.”

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