DTA adds ‘ask the market’ feature to Digital Marketplace

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has expanded the feature set on its online procurement platform, allowing government buyers to prompt businesses for further information on tenders, including experiments and trial products, to assist the acquisition process.

The new ‘ask the market’ feature opens a new communication channel between buyers and sellers, giving government buyers an option to seek Expressions of Interest (EOI) or Requests for Information (RFI) from businesses.

With the platform upgrade, government agencies can approach sellers with questions or problems and then incorporate feedback before fully defining the solution requirements. Buyers can expect to receive a response through ask the market between five and 10 business days.

The EOI/RFI service is particularly “suited to exploratory or innovative procurements,” the DTA said in statement, “[uncovering] new expertise or trial products, and emerging technologies.”

More than 280 government entities have registered with the Digital Marketplace, about half of which are from Federal agencies.

The DTA’s Digital Marketplace is targeted primarily at Australian small-to-medium business, with the aim of “breaking down the barriers of entry for SMEs” and making it easier for businesses to compete for the Government’s $2.4 billion annual tech spend.

The DTA said it will review the new interaction pathways over the coming months and revise the new feature as required based on user feedback.

Since its launch in August 2016, Digital Marketplace has recorded nearly $350 million in procurements.

However, the procurement platform has presented mixed fortunes for local businesses.

Early last year, the former head of the DTA, Gavin Slater, expressed a lack of satisfaction with the online procurement service, saying the “conversion rate” for businesses winning work through the Digital Marketplace remained low after its first year of operation.

Despite the considerable number of businesses registered on Digital Marketplace (today numbering more than 1200) entities, many had reported difficulty securing work through the platform.