The often-criticised Government Electronic Tenders Service (GETS) website is to be upgraded. Developed in 1996, the site is still the compulsory online site for core government departments, Police and the NZ Defence Force to advertise all ICT tenders.
The Ministry of Economic Development has issued a notice of intended procurement (NoI) for a replacement, provisionally known as Next Generation GETS, and will shortly put up on GETS itself an invitation to register interest.
“A replacement system is necessary to meet contemporary business needs, integrate with related MED websites and align with the government procurement policy, Cabinet mandatory rules and other associated policies and guidance,” the NoI states.
However, asked in what way it fell short of the policy and rules, an MED representative insists the current site does align with government policy. “Our Notice of Intended Procurement simply indicated the need for any replacement to continue to meet government procurement policy,” the MED spokesperson says.
“MED is continually developing its web presence and e-services,” he says. The www.business.govt.nz site, facilities for tenders to be filed electronically and support of standardised web-based procurement templates are cited as examples. “GETS needs to seamlessly connect into these evolving web services,” the MED spokesperson says.
The new design is expected to increase the level of self-service by agencies and suppliers, automating current manual tasks such as configuration and password resets. This is expected to free the GETS staff “to work with agencies and suppliers on more value-add activities,” he says.
GETS has often been criticised for its basic format and limited search capabilities and these are expected to be upgraded. Next Generation GETS is planned to work with handheld devices as well as desktop browsers.
Some users complain that the present site frequently reports a security certificate mismatch.
“Like other legacy systems GETS is progressively becoming unsupportable,” the MED spokesperson says.
“The underlying search engine is limited in scope. The GETS customer base have expectations in terms of functionality and flexibility that the current technology platform doesn’t allow for, and audit functionality is limited when compared with current standards.”
Ironically, the posting of the NoI itself illustrates another problem – rigidity of format. Despite being a preliminary notice requiring no reply, the form, like others of its type, carries a dummy deadline date for responses.
This is a “mandatory field” in the GETS format, a note explains, even though it has no meaning in this case.