NZ-Aust join hands on therapy

While the bridging of the Tasman is in the news with calls for a single border, the effects of closer relations can already be seen in a call for IT services to a planned joint New Zealand-Australian regulatory body.

While the bridging of the Tasman is in the news with calls for a single border, the effects of closer relations can already be seen in a call for IT services to a planned joint New Zealand-Australian regulatory body.

New Zealand’s MedSafe and its Australian counterpart, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, have issued a joint call for expressions of interest in providing desktop and related IT services to a new trans-Tasman body that will come into existence in July 2005. The body will create the regulatory framework and legislation covering therapeutic products in both countries.

The IT services the new body will need include desktop support, LAN and WAN services and, potentially, supporting midrange servers.

Maintaining software licences for Microsoft, Oracle and Lotus Notes/Domino applications is a requirement and related back-up and business continuity is also needed.

Antivirus measures, asset management and IT consulting services are on the cards, and under the heading of “potential services” are listed midrange server support, database administration, Active Directory management, fax servers and videoconferencing services.

The legal basis for merging the two entities is a treaty signed in December by New Zealand and Australia committing them to adopt a joint scheme for the regulation of therapeutic products.

Existing IT services to the two organisations will be continued until the chosen provider to the new body takes up the contract. Tender documents express a preference for a single “prime contractor” and note that “a ‘clean break’ from the Australian and New Zealand parent organisations with respect to commercial and inhouse provision of IT services and support is envisaged”.

The two entities work across six sites and eight different organisations collectively provide IT support and services to the two bodies. Working with those providers on the transition is also a requirement of the tender.

Most equipment is leased and some is CSE (commonwealth supplied equipment), ie, gear in use at present, which the successful bidder will be able to use free of charge.

Among the CSE are some desktops, laptops, midrange servers, software licences, two computer rooms and telecomms links, including a Canberra-Wellington 512kbit/s ATM service.

Gen-i chief executive Garth Biggs says the challenges of providing a trans-Tasman IT service are little different to providing a nationwide one. Gen-i isn't involved in the tender and Biggs, speaking in general terms, not in reference to the tender, says the only issue with providing service to a client that operates on both sides of the Tasman is to make sure "you only have one customer - you'd be looking for clear evidence of governance and a single decision maker”.

Chief executive of Gen-i Australia, Tim Ward, says that when servicing trans-Tasman clients, "the time and effort to understand the unique needs of a client's business in each location requires a strong focus and investment in relationships and basic operational questions, such as transfer pricing models, need to be addressed”.

Gen-i has trans-Tasman clients in the insurance, travel and manufacturing industries and it was a contractor to Ansett in Australia and New Zealand before the airline's collapse.

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