The Inland Revenue Department is buying 4900 PCs from Acer over three years in a deal worth several million dollars.
The agreement was revealed in the same week the country’s largest PC assembler and vocal critic of government procurement policies, The PC Company, shut the doors of its seven retail outlets pending restructuring caused by declining sales.
Colin Brown, managing director of the Hamilton-based PC Company, didn’t return calls. But, along with the Computer Manufacturers’ Association of New Zealand (CMANZ), which he helped found, he has repeatedly called for government agencies to give the domestic industry a fair chance when tendering for PCs.
However, IRD IT head Tony Lester says no New Zealand PC maker bid for the department’s contract. And asked whether the department considered local PC makers could meet the IRD’s volume and quality requirements, procurement manager Kevin Broughton said yes.
CMANZ chairman Peter Shirley (pictured) last week accused government agencies with “entrenched” supplier preferences of bypassing procurement guidelines. Those guidelines include a requirement that forthcoming contracts worth $50,000 or more be notified to the Government Electronic Tenders Service (GETS).
Shirley wouldn’t name specific instances when the guidelines were gone around, but says it has happened on numerous occasions.
He says agencies avoid going to public tender by reaching preferred supplier agreements.
The IRD deal includes a “syndicated procurement provision”, which allows other agencies to get the same terms from Acer without having to go to tender. The IRD’s Lester says such a provision has only a short useful life because PC market conditions change within a short time.
The government minister responsible for procurement policy, Jim Anderton, told Computerworld if a specific complaint was made, he would investigate it.